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The 5 best 4th of July movies to watch on Netflix

It’s finally July, the season for barbecues, gatherings, and fireworks. Americans countrywide will inevitably brave the heat in the nether-most parts of the country to celebrate Independence Day with family, friends, and possibly a spirited film that encapsulates the season. Thankfully, Netflix has you covered in that latter category. There’s a fun assortment of films that encapsulate themes of patriotism, the 4th of July holiday, or the mid-Summer vibes we’re certainly all feeling at this very moment.

There’s a bit of something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a serious drama or a family-friendly comedy. The Fourth of July can most assuredly be celebrated with a Netflix subscription in hand if you know what you’re looking for. So, pop some popcorn, grab a beverage, and flip on the streaming service. We’ll point you in the direction of some excellent selections perfect for your Summertime-feels and Fourth of July celebration

A League of Their Own (1992)

Cast members of A League of Their Own (1992)
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Perhaps one of the greatest American baseball classics in cinema, A League of Their Own should truthfully need no introduction. While the Fourth of July isn’t a primary theme of the film, the story of this WWII-era women’s baseball league will inspire all the American zeal necessary to complement the holiday. Starring Tom Hanks (A Man Called Otto, Sully), Geena Davis (Beetlejuice, Thelma & Louise), pop sensation Madonna, and famed actress and talk show host Rosie O’Donnell, the film follows a team in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League as they rise to stardom.

This 1992 sports classic will inspire laughter, smiles, and possibly even tears. A League of Their Own is one for the ages and is so culturally significant that it has been preserved in the United States National Film Registry. Whether you’ve seen it before, or are a newcomer, this is one to consider for your holiday viewing pleasure.

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

Universal Pictures

This award-winning film starring Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick) in the role of the real-life Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic is as thought-provoking as it is thematically relevant to the holiday the film is named after. Directed by Oliver Stone (Platoon, Heaven & Earth) and co-written by Stone and Kovic, the film details the veteran’s first-hand accounts of his service during the Vietnam War. If you’re expecting a “for country and glory” epic, you’d be mistaken. In fact, Born on the Fourth of July doubles down on its anti-war message and highlights not only the physical adversities of soldiers on the ground but the soul-shattering toll they inevitably bear when every decision or action becomes a moral quagmire.

Kovic, who was actually born on the Fourth of July, lives a life that fundamentally challenges his original views on true patriotism. It’s a drama for a far more mature audience. But the context of its message and eventual propositions are timeless.

Unbroken (2014)

Jack O'Connell in Unbroken.
Universal Pictures

The Angelina Jolie-directed film Unbroken is a biographical drama covering former Olympian and Army officer Louis “Louie” Zamperini who survived the unthinkable in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The film is based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand entitled Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption. Zamperini manages to survive 47 days stranded in the ocean before being claimed as a POW by the Japanese. As one can expect during a conflict as hot as World War II, tensions were high, and Louie was subjected to cruel treatment by his captors.

The film ultimately exudes the spirit of survival, resilience, and redemption – notions representative of those who truly fight for freedom and independence regardless of nationality. Ultimately, Unbroken is inspirational and it never lingers overly long on sensations of darkness and despair opting for triumph as a satisfying counterweight and end result. So, rest assured that while this PG-13 account may be an emotional journey, it’s not relentlessly bleak.

We’re The Millers (2013)

A family of four looks to the left in We're the Millers.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Dramatic, serious, overtly political, or edgy might not be your bag. Perhaps, you’re looking for a few laughs this July Fourth holiday. Netflix serves up one hilarious comedy starring Jennifer Aniston (Friends, Marley & Me), Jason Sudeikis (Ted Lasso, Horrible Bosses), Emma Roberts (Abandoned, The Hunt), and Will Poulter (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3). This comedy begins with your typical friendly neighborhood pot dealer, David Clark (Sudeikis), who is indebted to a drug lord. He must smuggle drugs from Mexico to clear his debt. So, he convinces his neighbor, a stripper, and a transient 19-year-old to pose as his family on vacation during the trip.

As you can expect, this ploy is upended by plenty of hilarity and chaos that the faux-Millers invite to their RV doorstep. Stupid decisions, high-flying passions, and a climactic Fourth of July Fireworks send-off encapsulate this uniquely awkward situation. While the tone is light, don’t invite the young ones to this R-rated comedy.

Black Hawk Down (2001)

Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you are looking for a great war movie, Black Hawk Down is one of the best offerings you’ll find on Netflix. This Ridley Scott-helmed film is a cinematic explosion of the chaos that unfolded following the U.S. military’s raid of a Somali National Alliance leader’s home in Mogadishu. While the particular target of the raid is believed to have been behind heavy bloodshed in the region, the SNA was able to rally local Mogadishu occupants against the American soldiers who were primarily there on a democratic and stabilizing mission. This began with the downing of a Black Hawk helicopter.

The film depicts Ranger and Delta Force operatives standing their ground amid an overwhelming and surprising attack. It’s a harrowing view of how easy it can be for regional tensions to boil over into a deadly catastrophe. However, the film highlights the rigors of being a combat operator and how important it is that they band together to survive the day or die trying.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Hinton
Chris is a passionate and creative writer whose abiding fondness for cinema, video games, television, novels, and comic books…
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