July 4th, Independence Day, is just over a week away. Like all great patriotic holidays, it’s important that you celebrate it to the utmost of your ability. After all, if you don’t, the terrorists win. Here’s a list of movies (in no particular order) that may help you get into the right state of mind for the Fourth:
1. The Patriot
This movie is the first one that comes to mind because of its plot. It’s a movie about one man’s quest for vengeance during the American Revolution. Mel Gibson kills Redcoats with a hatchet. What’s not to like?
2. We Were Soldiers
Another Mel Gibson classic, We Were Soldiers is about the Battle of Ia Drang, in which elements of the 1st Cavalry Division engaged with the North Vietnamese Army. Focusing on one battalion of the 7th Cavalry Regiment, the film shows how the “Air Cav” fought off forces many times their number by utilizing superior tactics, helicopters, and the fighting spirit of the American soldier.
Yeah, I know. It’s not about America. It still has the “Fuck you, England” spirit that was an essential part of the birth of our nation. It’s an all-around badass movie, and if you haven’t seen it, you’re wrong. Plus, I had to include the whole Mel Gibson trilogy.
4. Independence Day
Not only is July 4th the day we declared independence from the British, it’s also the day we kicked some alien ass in this 1996 movie.
The battlefield isn’t the only place Americans kick the shit out of our opponents. This movie chronicles the “Miracle on Ice” during the 1980 Winter Olympics when the U.S. hockey team beat the Soviets. This game is also considered the birth of the “USA!” chant.
6. Forrest Gump
Aside from being one of the best movies ever made, Forrest Gump is a downright American movie. It’s the story of a man who, despite his shortcomings, achieves great things. What things? He plays football for Alabama, is awarded the Medal of Honor, is a ping pong champion, and makes a ridiculous amount of money in the shrimp business.
7. Just About Anything With John Wayne In It
This doesn’t require explanation.
8. Born On The Fourth Of July
Just the name gets this one on the list. While not at all an upbeat film, it shows the difficulties veterans, especially those who’ve been wounded, face, both from physical injuries and psychological struggles such as PTSD.
9. Animal House
This one may seem out of place, but it’s not. The Library of Congress has deemed it as being culturally significant and it’s considered one of the funniest movies of all time. Also, not putting it on here would constitute badmouthing the United States of America. That’s not how I roll.
10. Red Dawn
I’m referring to the original, but you can also watch the new one if you really want to. Either way, nothing says patriotism like a bunch of small town high school kids killing commies. Be careful — every time I watch this movie, I end up going out and buying a lot of ammo. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, kids.
11. Field Of Dreams
Say whatever you want, baseball is America’s pastime and this movie is almost the quintessential baseball movie. The next one on the list takes that title.
12. The Sandlot
You probably grew up with this movie. Not only is it a great movie about baseball, it’s a great movie about growing up as an American male. Plus, growing up, we all knew a Smalls, a Squints, a Ham, and maybe even a Yeah-Yeah.
13. The Karate Kid
I’m referring to the original. This is a classic American underdog tale. Daniel-san is trained in the art of karate by Medal of Honor recipient Mr. Miyagi. After a series of trials and tribulations, he eventually beats Johnny, the best Cobra Kai student.
14. Rocky IV
Rocky Balboa comes out of retirement to fight a commie. Avenging his friend’s death and winning one for America, Rocky defeats the Ruski and, in doing so, probably contributes to the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. Pure speculation, of course.
15. Saving Private Ryan
Considered to be one of the best war movies ever made, this movie obviously deserves a place on this list. Focusing on the events during and immediately following Operation Overlord, the D-Day invasion, this movie puts a select group of men from the 2nd Ranger Battalion in harm’s way for an unusual mission. They must risk their lives in order to save the life of one man. What’s more American than that?
16. Top Gun
Here, read this.
17. Black Hawk Down
Like many other movies on here, Black Hawk Down is an extraordinary war movie. It’s the story of Operation Gothic Serpent, sometimes called the Battle of Mogadishu. The effects in this movie are incredible, it’s a Ridley Scott production, and it focuses on some of our most elite warriors: Army Rangers, Delta Force, and the incredibly badass aviators of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR).
General Patton is my personal hero so there is no way this movie wasn’t going to be on this list. The opening scene, where Ol’ Blood and Guts gives his famous speech, is enough to make you want to go out and slaughter some terrorists. Throughout the movie, actor George C. Scott’s portrayal of “America’s Fightingest General” will send shivers of patriotism up your spine.
19. To Hell And Back
What’s better than an actor playing a decorated soldier? A decorated soldier playing a decorated soldier. That’s right. In this movie, Audie Murphy, a Medal of Honor recipient and one of the most decorated soldiers of World War II, plays himself.
20. Team America: World Police
Some people might argue that this movie satires American national security policies and our attempts to unilaterally solve world problems. I say that it accurately depicts how America unilaterally solves world problems. It’s your typical big budget action film except there wasn’t really a big budget and there weren’t high paid actors. Instead, there were puppets playing the characters. The movie was made by the guys behind South Park, so it’s obviously hysterical.
21. Just About Anything With Clint Eastwood In It
Again, no explanation needed here.
22. D2: The Mighty Ducks
The Mighty Ducks go international in the sequel to what is one of the greatest sports films ever made. Kicking ass at home wasn’t enough, so they had to go abroad. Plus, the Bash Brothers are TFTC.
23. Act Of Valor
Critics gave this movie a hard time because of poor acting, but who cares? Active duty Navy SEALs played Navy SEALs. That’s called accuracy, not acting.
24. Apocalypse Now
This movie is pretty trippy, but it’s still an amazing piece of art. It’s actually the story of the book Heart of Darkness transposed into the Vietnam instead of 19th century colonial Africa. There are some really great scenes, most notably the “Ride of the Valkyries” scene. If you’re not familiar with Wagner late 19th century work, this is the scene when Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore’s air cavalry flies in and attacks the Vietnamese while playing the aforementioned song on PA speakers. It’ll get you going.
25. Full Metal Jacket
This movie will help you get into the spirit for the 4th of July and for next semester’s pledges. Honestly, the second half of the movie, after boot camp, isn’t really that great when compared to other war movies out there. The first half is just pure hazing, good old-fashioned, patriotic hazing.
There are my 25 recommendations. Obviously, there are many other great movies out there that are extremely patriotic and will be great to watch in the lead up to July 4th.
Although they’re technically not movies, I’d like to note that Band of Brothers and the Pacific are also incredible miniseries and would definitely be great to watch in the next few days.