It's with this idea in mind that I began my first full viewing of the 1996 classic Independence Day in probably five years. I usually come in somewhere in the middle whenever it's on TBS for the four hundredth time during the month of July. The late 90s where an excellent time for action movies especially if you liked volcanoes, asteroids, and plots that only had one or two differences. Independence Day was unique-ish at least at the time. The movie is patriotic without being nationalistic and uplifting while still having some sad moments. The pace is quick so while you like the characters and empathize with them, you don't get attached. You expect that some of them are not going to make it and it's okay. When aliens are attempting to exterminate the human race causalities can't be avoided.
This movie has everything: explosions, science, aliens, Harry Connick, Jr., the White House, comedy, tacky dolphin jewelry, Robert Loggia, cute kids, Data from Next Generation. Everything.
So with a week left until Independence Day, toast some marshmallows and make a s'more or two and enjoy the most patriotic movie of the 1990s Independence Day.
- I don't know the last time I watched the movie from the beginning. I did not remember that the movie started on the moon. The entire invasion is obviously retribution for astronauts walking on the moon. Thanks Neil Armstrong.
- Excellent use of R.E.M's "It's the End of the World As We Know It". Do you remember when it was a badge of coolness to actually know all of the lyrics?
- Literally everyone is in this movie: the guy who plays the museum director in The Mummy (Erick Avari), Jim Piddock (from several Christopher Guest movies), the older daughter from Mrs. Doubtfire, the cute guy from Detroit Rock City oh and Will Smith, Robert Loggia, Bill Pullman, Mae Whitman, and Jeff Goldblum. And Harvey Fierstein.
- Bill Pullman is the President! I think we should all dream hard for a world where this is the truth. Lone Starr should be President.
- "Daddy let me watch Letterman." "Traitor." Mae Whitman is so adorable as the first child.
- I've never reconciled the fact that the women in the film are pretty stereotypical: the graceful, smart First Lady, the uptight communications director, and the stripper with a heart of gold. Couldn't we have done a little better?
- If you didn't have a crush on Jeff Goldblum when this movie came out, you did after you saw it. He's nerdy and funny and still in love with his wife who happens to be the President's communications director. And he's nice to his dad and is an excellent chess player. Of course he also saves the day. No big thing.
- OMG Harvey Fierstein is in this movie! I forgot he was in this movie. We're only fifteen minutes in and if the movie ended right now, it would be worth it.
- Randy Quaid has built a career on playing idiots and this movie doesn't disappoint in that department (at least in the beginning). I like his character's story arc and his family. More on his alien abduction later on.
- I like the special effects in this movie. They're classic and wonderful and not overwhelming even when the monuments and significant American symbols are being destroyed.
- Mae Whitman doesn't actually cry in this movie but I feel like this movie was another great place for her to hone her crying skills. Don't believe me? Check out this Buzzfeed article on her epic cries.
- The pacing of this movie is one of my favorite parts of the experience. The run time clocks at 2:25 and the aliens make their first move 24 minutes into the movie. You'd think that you'd get bored but you don't the movie moves between the connected stories at an excellent pace and actually moves. I have been to more movies in the last 3 years that should be a good 45 minutes shorter than they are. We could learn a lot from ID.
- We finally meet our two doomed characters: the First Lady (Mary McDonnell) and Harry Connick, Jr.. You know that the First Lady is doomed in her delivery of the line "I love you" when the President tells her to come back home. Something bad is going to happen to her and it's okay. Not okay that she's doomed but okay because you have time to process that it will happen. Same for HCJ: he's comic relief that might interfere with Will Smith's mugging so he has to go. He does deliver one of my favorite lines, "You're never gonna get to fly on the space shuttle if you marry a stripper."
- Fun fact: the White House interior scenes were filmed on the set that was built for The American President. This is my dad's favorite movie (it's his You've Got Mail). It was also used for Mars Attacks!.
- "You punched the President?" I love Judd Hirsch in this movie too. Literally, everyone is in this movie.
- If you're trying to disaster plan for alien invasions, move to Des Moines. L.A., New York, and DC will go first so move to Iowa.
- Jasmine's dog is awesome.
- So let's discuss Will Smith: this is the only Will Smith movie that I enjoy him in. He's one of those actors who annoys me because he has little to no range and yet is in every movie (or at least was in every movie). Ali and Six Degrees of Separation were pleasant surprises but everything else is terrible. He's smug and mugs the entire time. At least in this movie he plays a pilot so I expect the smugness. Like Tom Cruise, I never willingly go see Will Smith movies. I only saw the first Men in Black because I adore Tommy Lee Jones. I do enjoy him in this movie especially the scene where he's dragging the alien through the desert and talking to it. And his "Welcome to Earth" before punching the alien. Beyond that, Will Smith in a movie makes me irrational. I want to punch him in the face because than he would stop being so freaking smug.
- Jasmine (the amazing Vivica A. Fox) drives a huge truck through destroyed L.A. and finds the First Lady. Of course, Jasmine voted for the other guy.
- Y'all it's Adam Baldwin. This movie should have 100% more Adam Baldwin. Basically, there should be a movie within a movie just about Adam Baldwin's character. I would totally watch that. And never be bored.
- And then Data, I mean, Brent Spiner, appears as the creepiest scientist who is not really a bad guy. He's just lived at Area 51 (yes that Area 51) forever and is really into aliens. Of course, this isn't going to end well. Shady.
- Fun fact: the US military was originally on board to provide technical advisement on the film UNTIL it was revealed that part of the plot involved Area 51.
- "You just have to get through their technology." So basically getting to the actual alien is a lot like helping one of my clients navigate the internet?
- Helpful tip: Don't dissect an alien if you don't know if it's dead or not. Bad things will happen.
- You know what this movie could use? Harvey Keitel. I don't know what he'd do in this movie but I feel like he'd be really awesome in it.
- The President tries to convince the alien that peace is the answer. The alien declines. Obviously the only answer is to have Adam Baldwin kill it.
- I like the four love stories in the movie: Connie and David, Jasmine and Will Smith, the President and First Lady, and Randy Quaid (Russell) and his family. They all make sense.
- I find it incredibly amusing that Houston is where they decide to launch a nuclear attack against the aliens. Houston - just let that sink in for a minute.
- Have I mentioned how much I love Jeff Goldblum in this movie? He figures out how to give the mothership a "cold" and saves the day again (this is the second time so far). Connie's comment, "Now he gets ambitious" is also perfect.
- This is the greatest speech of all time:
31. And then he suits up and joins the other pilots on their mission. Because he's a former combat pilot and the best president ever.
32. "I picked a hell of day to quit drinking." Russell - the unexpected hero of this movie. Again another great story element to this movie. I like everyone. Except the aliens.
33. Did I mention that they use morse code as a way to communicate with armies around the world? Take that aliens wiping our our technology. We've got morse code.
34. "Didn't I promise you fireworks?" Will Smith ends it for us with a mildly smug comment while we watch alien ships burn. Thanks Will Smith. Just keep smoking that cigar.
And that's Jenga. (Bonus points if you get that movie reference.) There you have it - one of my favorite movies from 1996. I was still in high school and did not yet feel like suspending disbelief while watching movies was for the weak. If you just can't help yourself and need to question the believability of this movie, check out this video (courtesy of Jessica).
Gratuitous Adam Baldwin photo