It’s time once again to toast the red, white and blue for the 4th of July. In addition to firing up the grill and lighting up the night with sparklers or fireworks, consider taking a break from the heat to watch one of these 7 movies that celebrate America … or the best things about America!

1776 and The Patriot double feature – While there are some great miniseries (such as John Adams) and a blockbuster musical (Hamilton) that focus on the American Revolution, there surprisingly aren’t that many mainstream movies that revolve around the time when our nation became a nation. One of the most historically accurate is 1776, which was adapted from the hit Broadway musical of the same name, and depicts the drama during the Continental Congress leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

One of the most well-known movies about the founding of our nation — even though it’s not that accurate — is The Patriot, a 2000 Roland Emmerich drama starring Mel Gibson. It covers the period of the Revolutionary War in the years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. Gibson plays a father who’s reluctant to enlist in the colonial militia, but eventually does after his two oldest sons (Heath Ledger and Gregory Smith) decide to join the fight. 

Independence Day – Nothing’s going to bring Americans together like kicking some alien butt, am I right? Watch it for Will Smith. Watch it for Jeff Goldblum. Watch it for Area 51 conspiracies and general awesomeness. Watch it for President Bill Pullman’s rousing speech. Just watch it!

An American Tail – In this 1986 animated adventure backed by executive producer Steven Spielberg, brave immigrant mouse Fievel gets separated from his family as they travel from Ukraine to America. The little guy must survive on his own until he can figure out how to find everyone. It’s a family-friendly celebration of our country, but just be forewarned that you WILL be singing its Oscar-nominated and Grammy-winning song “Somewhere Out There” for the rest of the day. Possibly the rest of the weekend.

Apollo 13 – What’s more American than Tom Hanks? Tom Hanks AS a US astronaut! This Best Picture nominee will keep you on the edge of your seat as director Ron Howard recounts the disastrous Apollo 13 lunar-landing mission and how the crew at Houston’s (as in “Houston, we have a problem”) NASA Mission Control Center got the astronauts back home safely. It’s a great testament to the American spirit and American ingenuity.

Field of Dreams and A League of Their Own double feature– OK there might be ONE thing more American than Tom Hanks as a US astronaut, and that’s baseball. America’s favorite pastime is front and center in both of these movies, even though they’re drastically different. Field of Dreams stars Kevin Costner as a man haunted by the poor relationship he had with his late father. He then starts hearing and seeing ghosts of baseball past who tell him, “If you build it, they will come.” So he proceeds to build a baseball field in the middle of nowhere, as you do. I’m being a little glib, but rest assured that this Best Picture nominee isn’t as crazy as it sounds!

With A League of Their Own, we’ve got baseball AND Tom Hanks, so this truly might be the most American movie of all time. Penny Marshall directs a star-studded cast (Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and many more) that may portray a fictional 1940s women’s baseball team, The Peaches, but the league they’re playing for was very real: the AAGPBL, or All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Come on, you know you want to hear Hanks deliver one of his most famous lines of all time: “There’s no crying in baseball!”

No matter how you choose to celebrate, we’re wishing you a safe and happy 4th of July!

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