It's hard to believe it, but 4th of July weekend is here! While we know most of your weekend will be spent outside on the beach, grilling with friends, or watching fireworks, sometimes you need a little escape from the festivities. So for this week's Friday Five, we're giving you our go-to 4th of July movies. Maybe it gets too hot, maybe it rains a little, or maybe you just want to unwind with a huge summer blockbuster after a long day. Whatever the reason, if you want to settle in with a movie this weekend, we've got you covered!
It feels like the only way to kick off this list is to start with the most important summer movie of all-time: Jaws. Not only did Steven Spielbergh’s breakthrough hit make a generation afraid of the ocean, but it fundamentally changed Hollywood. And although it absolutely led to some not-so-great trends in the movie industry, Jaws is a masterpiece. It takes place over a harrowing 4th of July weekend on Amity Island, and it’s unbelievable how well this 1975 classic holds up. The terror, suspense, and agony all ring through almost 50 years later, despite the lacking special effects. Not to mention a score that lives on with perhaps the two most memorable notes in movie history. This is the one movie that, without fail, we return to every 4th of July. If you haven’t seen it in a while, we recommend finding the biggest screen you can, and basking in the horror of Jaws.
This one is right in the title. All these years later, it is hard to imagine a 4th of July Weekend without an Independence Day marathon on. It’s like how they play A Christmas Story on loop. But it shouldn’t be lost on people how absolutely revolutionary this movie was. It had Will Smith, maybe the biggest movie star in the world, punching an alien in the face! The ad campaign featured the destruction of Washington, DC! Bill Pullman gives one of the greatest inspirational speeches in movie history! It’s easy to look down on summer blockbusters, but movies like Independence Day are why they endure. At times, it feels incredibly dated -- Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith save the world with an AOL dial-up-era computer virus. But even with some hacky cliches, I can’t imagine a 4th of July Weekend going by without tuning in to at least hear Will Smith yell “Welcome to Earth!”
Speaking of fighter pilots… this list wouldn’t be complete without Maverick, Goose, and the crew of Top Gun. I’m not sure what season this movie actually takes place during (just that it’s hot), but it is chock-full of summer activities. Playing beach volleyball with your buds? Check. Drunken karaoke with the boys? Check. Gunning down MiGs with the lads? OK, maybe that’s just Top Gun. Like Independence Day, it’s hard to write about this movie without just listing out all of the most iconic moments. There are cheesy quotes, high-flying action, and a soundtrack for the ages. It’s also probably the sweatiest movie of all-time, which adds to the summery feel of the SoCal setting. Throw in a lot of over-the-top 80s patriotism, and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect 4th of July movie.
Trying to escape the heat? Why don’t you head down to the ice with the Disney classic Miracle. While this movie takes place almost entirely during the winter, it feels incredibly appropriate to relive the most famous US Olympic win amidst the fireworks of the 4th. Especially for those of us that weren’t alive in 1980, Miracle is a monumental touchstone in sports history. It’s the only way that we could even come close to experiencing the joy of Team USA’s upset over the Soviet Union. Kurt Russell is pitch-perfect in his role as the legendary coach Herb Brooks, and the entire cast of oddball hockey players is incredibly endearing. And when the Al Michaels call comes in as the clock runs down? Goosebumps every time.
At the end of a long weekend of drinking and barbecuing in the sun, it’s nice to just kick back and enjoy some good, dumb laughs. And that’s where Caddyshack comes in. While the other blockbusters on this list are great, summer is supposed to be about low-stakes fun, and Caddyshack has it in bunches. Chevy Chase and Bill Murray get a lot of the memorable moments in this classic, but Rodney Dangerfield might steal the show, operating at the peak of his comedic powers. The behind-the-scenes stories are almost as legendary as the movie itself, including the explosive finish that matches any fireworks display you’ll see this weekend. So in case you don’t have time to hit the links on your long weekend, you can at least be there in spirit with Caddyshack.