For many people, this Fourth of July weekend is sure to be a busy one — Parades! Picnics! Parties! But when the fireworks have all stopped and you’ve been rendered immobile after consuming too many grilled things — or if you just need a few hours to not talk to your family and friends — you can still get into the spirit of the weekend with some movies.
Here’s a list — far from encyclopedic, but a good start — of holiday-relevant viewing available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu (some are admittedly a bit of a stretch, but not every movie can be 1776):
Bruce Willis — that steely-eyed icon of American can-do grit — is tasked with saving the world from a Texas-sized asteroid threatening to wipe out humankind. Meanwhile, Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” will threaten to take over your brain after only one listen.
Wet Hot American Summer and Wet Hot American Summer: The First Day of Camp
For the millions of Americans who’ve spent a Fourth of July at summer camp, theWHAS movie and series will bring back all those hours of macrame, capture the flag, and awkward adolescent social interactions. But funnier, and with Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and Janeane Garofalo.
Coming to America
The classic tale of a prince willfully turning himself into a pauper by way of employment at a fast food restaurant, Eddie Murphy’s high-born character ditches his royal status so he can work at a McDonald’s knockoff, belittle Arsenio Hall, woo the girl, and get the true American experience.
The Sum of All Fears
Based on the Jack Clancy novel, CIA agent Jack Ryan has to foil a sinister plot to push the U.S. and Russian into World War III. Morgan Freeman gets involved and imparts wisdom at some point. True, Ben Affleck is not the Jack Ryan that Harrison Ford or Alec Baldwin were in earlier movies, but at least he’s not in a superhero costume this time.
You know what they say about life, sometimes it can be boiled down to fictionalized versions of important events in American history in a movie starring Tom Hanks.
How to Make an American Quilt
Romantic drama about a group of women who come together every year to make quilts and tell stories about their lives. A spy thriller it is not.
Unsung Heroes: The Story of America’s Female Patriots
A documentary profiling some of the top-ranking women in the U.S. military.
Nick Offerman: American Ham
Nick Offerman’s secrets to a happy life involve red meat and minor nudity in this comedy special.
Of Men and War
A 2015 documentary following several veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, winner of a special jury award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.
Twelve O’Clock High
This 1949 drama stars Gregory Peck as a brigadier general tasked with turning a bunch of jaded pilots into World War II heroes. Think Mighty Ducks, but with war instead of hockey, and Gregory Peck instead of Emilio Estevez.
Beavis and Butt-head Do America
Because your love of America doesn’t have to be pure, celebrate your independence by screaming, “I NEED TEEPEE FOR MY BUNGHOLE!”
Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden
A dramatic recreation that follows U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 from training for a critical mission through the nighttime raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound.
Ken Burnsapalooza: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
If you’re in the mood to eat up hours upon hours of time, documentarian Ken Burns is your man.
Making the American Man
Another documentary, this one takes a look at “the makers of American-made goods for men, and the resurgence of clothing manufacturing gin the United States,” according to IMDB.
A National Geographic series that “depicts some of America’s fiercest scientific and technological rivalries, including Colt vs. Wesson, Edison vs. Tesla, and Jobs vs. Gates.”
Maverick! Goose! Iceman! Kenny Loggins!! Hotshot fighter pilots compete to be the best at The Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School while Tom Cruise learns some important life lessons about falling in love with your instructor.
The Ides of March
Nothing more American than political scandal, am I right? And even though Ryan Gosling is a Canadian, we’ll allow this movie on the list, since it’s an intense look at a (mercifully fictional) presidential primary campaign.
The Jackie Robinson Story
The Dodgers legend stars as himself in the 1950 drama about Robinson’s journey to becoming the player that broke long-enforced ban against non-whites in Major League Baseball.
The Tuskegee Airmen
Laurence Fishburne stars in this tale of “The Fighting 99th” — the first squadron of African American U.S. Army Air Corps fighter pilots in WWII.
Spirit of the Pony Express
The story of how the Pony Express became the Pony Express at the beginning of the Civil War. Also, PONIES!
See our write-up above. Same movie; different streaming service.
Larry the Cable Guy and some of his friends get mistaken for Army Reserves, and are sent off to war woefully unprepared. We can only assume hilarity ensues, or maybe it’s a dark existentialist drama about the barbaric nature of man. Either way: Larry the Cable Guy.
Saints and Soldiers
Four American soldiers team up with a British guy fighting the bad guys in Europe in World War II to get back behind Allied lines after being separated during the Malmedy Massacre.
Medal of Honor: The History
Not to be confused with Medal of Honor the video game, this documentary narrated by Gary Sinise looks at the history of the medal itself.