30 Movies for the 4th of July Holiday: Best Independence Day Films


July brings family vacations, trips to the beach and lots of backyard barbecues! And of course, 4th of July celebrations!! Here’s a list of 4th of July themed movies to watch over the holiday weekend.

4th of July movies

It’s that time of year again! The summer in July brings family vacations, trips to the beach and lots of backyard barbecues! And of course, fireworks celebrations for the 4th of July!!

But for those looking to spend their Independence Day inside curled up comfy on the couch (after eating a little too much at that 4th of July BBQ), we have the perfect accompaniment. A 4th of July themed movie!

To qualify for the list, the movie needs to be about American history, patriotism, culture, traditions and values. Or have some element of a July 4th celebration, enough to evoke the sentiment of the holiday.

This list includes Independence Day movies in all genres, from classics to comedy to drama and romance, even some horror for those less serious brave celebrants (like me, I love “Jaws“).

We’ve also included 18 family friendly movies (G, PG and PG-13), appropriate for viewing with all members of the family.

There is a FREE movie checklist you can download to keep track of what you want to see.

Links included below to the where the movies are streaming FREE (where available).

Read to the end for BONUS movies streaming FREE

What makes a good 4th of July movie?

  • A movie about American history
  • A film that illustrates American patriotism
  • A movie about American culture and spirit
  • A movie that highlights American values and traditions
  • A feel good movie that includes some Independence Day celebration element

Who is this list of Independence Day movies for?

  • Family movie night over the July 4th holiday weekend
  • People needing some feel good American patriotism inspiration
  • History buffs wanting to watch a movie about American history
  • Anyone looking for a fun movie to watch over the July 4th holiday that has a 4th of July tie in

What information is provided about each July 4th movie in this selection?

  • Movie image
  • The movie title and release year of the movie
  • Director
  • A list of actors in the movie
  • Genre
  • The MPAA rating
  • Link to the movie in IMDb – For movie reviews, where to stream, ratings, trailers and lots more.

30 Movies to Watch this 4th of July Holiday Weekend

1. 1776 (1972)

  • Director: Peter H. Hunt
  • Actors: William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard
  • Genre: Musical, Drama, History
  • MPAA Rating: G
  • IMDB: 1776 on IMDb

“1776” is a musical retelling of the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Set during the Second Continental Congress, it brings to life the debates and discussions of the founding fathers with a unique blend of history and show tunes. With vibrant performances and catchy songs, this film captures the spirit of the American Revolution in an engaging and entertaining way.

2. Nashville (1975)

  • Director: Robert Altman
  • Actors: Keith Carradine, Karen Black, Ronee Blakley
  • Genre: Drama, Music
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • IMDB: Nashville on IMDb

“Nashville” is a mosaic of American life set against the backdrop of the country music scene in Nashville, Tennessee. This ensemble film weaves together the lives of 24 characters over five days, culminating in a political rally. It offers a satirical and poignant look at fame, politics, and American culture in the 1970s.

3. Team America: World Police (2004)

“Team America: World Police” is an irreverent puppet animated satire from the creators of “South Park.” The film follows an international police force dedicated to maintaining global stability, hilariously tackling everything from Hollywood to terrorism. It’s a bold and outrageous take on American interventionism and global politics.

4. The Sandlot (1993)

  • Director: David Mickey Evans
  • Actors: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • IMDB: The Sandlot on IMDb

“The Sandlot” is a nostalgic coming of age story about a group of young boys who bond over baseball during the summer of 1962. The film centers around Scotty Smalls, a new kid in town who learns about friendship and adventure from the local sandlot team. This movie captures the spirit of childhood summers and the love of the game.

5. Air Force One (1997)

  • Director: Wolfgang Petersen
  • Actors: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • IMDB: Air Force One on IMDb

“Air Force One” is an action packed thriller starring Harrison Ford as U.S. President James Marshall. When terrorists hijack the presidential plane, Air Force One, the president must use his military training to save his family and the hostages on board.

6. Gung Ho (1986)

  • Director: Ron Howard
  • Actors: Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe, George Wendt
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • IMDB: Gung Ho on IMDb

“Gung Ho” is a comedy drama that explores the cultural clash between American and Japanese workers when a Japanese company takes over an American car plant. Michael Keaton stars as Hunt Stevenson, a laid off foreman who tries to bridge the gap between the two cultures to save the factory. The film offers a humorous yet insightful look at industrial relations and the challenges of globalization in the 1980s.

7. Independence Day (1996)

  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Actors: Will Smith, Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • IMDB: Independence Day on IMDb

“Independence Day” follows humanity’s fight for survival against a massive alien invasion. As giant spacecraft decimate cities around the globe, a group of disparate heroes, including a brash pilot (Will Smith), a brilliant scientist (Jeff Goldblum), and the President of the United States (Bill Pullman), come together to launch a counterattack. With groundbreaking special effects and an epic battle for Earth, this film is a perfect blockbuster for the Fourth of July.

8. Southland Tales (2006)

  • Director: Richard Kelly
  • Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Seann William Scott
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Sci-Fi
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • IMDB: Southland Tales on IMDb

“Southland Tales” is a sprawling, dystopian sci-fi comedy drama set in a near future Los Angeles. It weaves together multiple storylines involving an action star with amnesia (Dwayne Johnson), a psychic porn star (Sarah Michelle Gellar), and a twin brother duo (Seann William Scott) amidst societal collapse and political intrigue. Known for its ambitious narrative and eclectic style, “Southland Tales” offers a darkly humorous and satirical look at American culture and politics.

9. Jaws (1975)

  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Actors: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss
  • Genre: Adventure, Thriller
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • IMDB: Jaws on IMDb

“Jaws” is the quintessential summer thriller, directed by Steven Spielberg. The film centers on a small New England beach town terrorized by a great white shark. As the shark claims more victims, the local sheriff (Roy Scheider), a marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss), and a grizzled shark hunter (Robert Shaw) team up to hunt it down. “Jaws” remains an influential classic that changed the landscape of blockbuster filmmaking.

10. The Patriot (2000)

  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Actors: Mel Gibson, Heath Ledger, Joely Richardson
  • Genre: Action, Drama, History
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • IMDB: The Patriot on IMDb

“The Patriot” is an epic war drama set during the American Revolutionary War. Mel Gibson stars as Benjamin Martin, a reluctant hero and widowed father who is drawn into the conflict after a brutal attack on his family. With his son (Heath Ledger) by his side, Benjamin leads a militia against the British forces. The film combines intense battle scenes with a personal story of vengeance, courage, and sacrifice, showcasing the human cost of war and the fight for freedom.

11. Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

“Born on the Fourth of July” is a powerful biographical drama based on the life of Vietnam War veteran Ron Kovic. Tom Cruise delivers a compelling performance as Kovic, a patriotic young man whose life is shattered when he is paralyzed in combat. The film follows Kovic’s journey from a zealous soldier to a disillusioned anti war activist, illustrating one man’s struggle for identity and purpose.

12. Flight of the Navigator (1986)

  • Director: Randal Kleiser
  • Actors: Joey Cramer, Paul Reubens, Veronica Cartwright
  • Genre: Adventure, Family, Sci-Fi
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • IMDB: Flight of the Navigator on IMDb

“Flight of the Navigator” is a family friendly sci-fi adventure about a young boy named David (Joey Cramer) who is mysteriously transported eight years into the future without aging. During his absence, he discovers he has been taken aboard an alien spacecraft piloted by a friendly robot named Max (voiced by Paul Reubens). As David and Max embark on a journey to uncover the truth and get David back home, the film blends excitement, humor, and heartwarming moments, making it a delightful and nostalgic adventure for all ages.

13. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

  • Director: Ted Kotcheff
  • Actors: Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Terry Kiser
  • Genre: Comedy
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • IMDB: Weekend at Bernie’s on IMDb

“Weekend at Bernie’s” is a dark comedy that follows two young employees, Larry (Andrew McCarthy) and Richard (Jonathan Silverman), who discover that their boss, Bernie (Terry Kiser), has been killed after inviting them to his beach house. To avoid being implicated in the murder, they pretend that Bernie is still alive, leading to a series of hilarious and increasingly absurd situations. The film’s slapstick humor and outrageous premise make it a lighthearted and entertaining watch.

14. Rocky (1976)

  • Director: John G. Avildsen
  • Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young
  • Genre: Drama, Sport
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • IMDB: Rocky on IMDb

“Rocky” is an iconic sports drama that tells the rags to riches story of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone), a small time boxer from Philadelphia who gets a once in a lifetime shot at the world heavyweight championship. With gritty determination and heart, Rocky trains for the fight of his life against reigning champion Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Its inspirational storyline, memorable characters, and stirring soundtrack have made it a timeless classic and a symbol of the American dream.

15. National Treasure (2004)

  • Director: Jon Turteltaub
  • Actors: Nicolas Cage, Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Mystery
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • IMDB: National Treasure on IMDb

“National Treasure” is a thrilling adventure film that follows historian and treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) as he seeks to uncover a hidden trove of riches buried by the Founding Fathers. Clues to the treasure are encoded in historic American documents, leading Gates and his team on a high stakes chase across the country. It’s an engaging and educational adventure for the whole family.

16. Armageddon (1998)

  • Director: Michael Bay
  • Actors: Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton, Ben Affleck
  • Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • IMDB: Armageddon on IMDb

“Armageddon” is a high octane disaster film that revolves around a team of deep core drillers, led by Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis), who are recruited by NASA to prevent an asteroid the size of Texas from colliding with Earth. With only days to save the planet, they embark on a perilous mission to drill into the asteroid and detonate a nuclear bomb. It delivers a gripping tale of heroism and sacrifice.

17. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Sizemore
  • Genre: Drama, War
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • IMDB: Saving Private Ryan on IMDb

“Saving Private Ryan” is a powerful war drama directed by Steven Spielberg. The film is set during World War II and follows Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) and his squad on a mission to find and bring home Private James Ryan (Matt Damon), whose brothers have been killed in combat. The movie is renowned for its realistic and harrowing depiction of war, particularly the D-Day invasion of Normandy. “Saving Private Ryan” is a moving tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of soldiers.

18. The Great Escape (1963)

  • Director: John Sturges
  • Actors: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough
  • Genre: Adventure, Drama, History
  • MPAA Rating: Not Rated
  • IMDB: The Great Escape on IMDb
  • Streaming FREE on Tubi

“The Great Escape” is a classic war film based on the true story of a massive escape by Allied POWs from a German camp during World War II. The prisoners plan a daring escape through a series of tunnels, facing numerous challenges and risks along the way. Known for its suspenseful narrative, memorable performances, and McQueen’s iconic motorcycle chase, “The Great Escape” is an enduring tale of courage and ingenuity.

19. The Purge: Anarchy (2014)

  • Director: James DeMonaco
  • Actors: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Zach Gilford
  • Genre: Action, Horror, Sci-Fi
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • IMDB: The Purge: Anarchy on IMDb

“The Purge: Anarchy” is the second installment in the dystopian horror series directed by James DeMonaco. Set in a future where the government sanctions an annual 12 hour period during which all crimes are legal, the film follows a group of strangers who band together to survive the night. Led by Sergeant Leo Barnes (Frank Grillo), they navigate the chaos of the streets, facing various threats and moral dilemmas. Its a social commentary of violence and survival in a lawless society.

20. 4th of July (2022)

  • Director: Louis C.K.
  • Actors: Joe List, Sarah Tollemache, Paula Plum
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama
  • MPAA Rating: Not Rated
  • IMDB: 4th of July on IMDb

“4th of July” is a comedy drama that tells the story of Jeff, a recovering alcoholic and jazz musician living in New York City. Struggling with sobriety and personal issues, Jeff decides to confront his family during their annual Fourth of July vacation. It blends humor with heartfelt moments as Jeff seeks to reconcile with his past and move forward with his life.

21. True Grit (2010)

  • Directors: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
  • Actors: Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon
  • Genre: Drama, Western
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • IMDB: True Grit on IMDb

“True Grit” is a critically acclaimed Western drama directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. This adaptation of Charles Portis’s novel stars Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, a grizzled U.S. Marshal hired by a determined young girl, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), to track down her father’s killer. Accompanied by Texas Ranger LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), they embark on a perilous journey through hostile territory. The film is celebrated for capturing the essence of frontier justice.

22. The Straight Story (1999)

  • Director: David Lynch
  • Actors: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Harry Dean Stanton
  • Genre: Biography, Drama
  • MPAA Rating: G
  • IMDB: The Straight Story on IMDb

“The Straight Story” is a heartwarming biographical drama that tells the true story of Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), an elderly man who embarks on a journey from Iowa to Wisconsin on a lawnmower to reconcile with his estranged brother. Along the way, Alvin meets various people who are touched by his determination and kindness. The film is a departure from Lynch’s usual style, offering a simple yet profound tale of family, forgiveness, and perseverance.

23. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

“Captain America: The First Avenger” is a superhero film set during World War II. Chris Evans stars as Steve Rogers, a frail young man who is transformed into the super soldier Captain America through an experimental serum. As he battles the Nazi organization HYDRA, led by the villainous Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), Captain America becomes a symbol of hope and heroism. The film serves as an origin story for one of Marvel’s most iconic characters.

24. Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

  • Director: David Wain
  • Actors: Janeane Garofalo, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter
  • Genre: Comedy, Romance
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • IMDB: Wet Hot American Summer on IMDb

“Wet Hot American Summer” is a cult comedy set on the last day of summer camp in 1981 and follows the antics of both the campers and counselors as they try to wrap up unfinished business before the final day ends. The movie is a hilarious parody of camp films and 1980s pop culture. Its over the top humor, absurd situations, and memorable characters have made it a beloved classic among fans of offbeat comedy.

25. Fiddler on the Roof (1971)

  • Director: Norman Jewison
  • Actors: Topol, Norma Crane, Leonard Frey
  • Genre: Drama, Family, Musical
  • MPAA Rating: G
  • IMDB: Fiddler on the Roof on IMDb
  • Streaming FREE on Tubi

“Fiddler on the Roof” is a classic musical film, based on the Broadway musical of the same name. Set in early 20th century Tsarist Russia, the story follows Tevye (Topol), a poor Jewish milkman, as he tries to maintain his religious and cultural traditions amidst external pressures and changing times. Tevye’s faith and endurance are tested as his daughters choose their own paths in life, each defying traditional expectations. With memorable songs like “If I Were a Rich Man” and “Tradition,” the film is a touching and timeless exploration of family, faith, and resilience.

26. Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)

  • Director: Michael Curtiz
  • Actors: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston
  • Genre: Biography, Drama, Musical
  • MPAA Rating: Approved
  • IMDB: Yankee Doodle Dandy on IMDb

“Yankee Doodle Dandy” is a spirited biographical musical starring James Cagney in an Oscar winning performance as George M. Cohan, the legendary American entertainer. The film chronicles Cohan’s life from his early days in vaudeville to his rise as a renowned composer and performer of patriotic songs, including “Over There” and “You’re a Grand Old Flag.” Celebrated for its energetic performances and patriotic fervor, the film serves as a tribute to Cohan’s impact on American theater and music.

27. Uncle Sam (1996)

  • Director: William Lustig
  • Actors: William Smith, David “Shark” Fralick, Christopher Ogden
  • Genre: Comedy, Horror
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • IMDB: Uncle Sam on IMDb
  • Streaming FREE on Tubi

“Uncle Sam” is a horror comedy that centers on Sam Harper, a deceased Gulf War veteran who returns from the dead on Independence Day to exact revenge on those he believes are unpatriotic. As he dons an Uncle Sam costume, Sam goes on a murderous rampage in his small town. The film blends dark humor with slasher elements, creating a satirical take on patriotism and national pride. “Uncle Sam” offers a unique and twisted perspective on the Fourth of July.

28. 42 (2013)

  • Director: Brian Helgeland
  • Actors: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie
  • Genre: Biography, Drama, Sport
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • IMDB: 42 on IMDb

“42” is a biographical sports drama that tells the inspiring true story of Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. Chadwick Boseman stars as Robinson, who faces intense racism and adversity as he breaks baseball’s color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey, the team’s general manager who supports Robinson throughout his journey. It highlights Robinson’s significant impact on American sports and civil rights.

29. Hamilton (2020)

  • Director: Thomas Kail
  • Actors: Lin-Manuel Miranda, Phillipa Soo, Leslie Odom Jr.
  • Genre: Biography, Drama, History, Musical
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13
  • IMDB: Hamilton on IMDb

“Hamilton” is a filmed version of the hit Broadway musical created by Lin-Manuel Miranda. This historical drama, performed by the original cast, tells the story of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers, through a unique blend of hip-hop, jazz, and traditional show tunes. The film captures the energy and innovation of the stage production, with Miranda starring as Hamilton, alongside a talented ensemble including Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr and Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton. “Hamilton” offers an engaging and educational look at the early years of the United States, highlighting themes of ambition, legacy, and political intrigue.

30. An American Tail (1986)

  • Director: Don Bluth
  • Actors: Dom DeLuise, Christopher Plummer, Erica Yohn
  • Genre: Animation, Adventure, Drama
  • MPAA Rating: G
  • IMDB: An American Tail on IMDb

“An American Tail” is an animated adventure film that follows the journey of Fievel Mousekewitz, a young Russian mouse who immigrates to America with his family, dreaming of a land where “the streets are paved with cheese.” Separated from his family upon arrival, Fievel embarks on a quest to find them, encountering various challenges and making new friends along the way. With its heartfelt story and memorable songs, including “Somewhere Out There,” the film explores themes of hope, resilience, and the immigrant experience, resonating with audiences of all ages.

BONUS Independence Day Movies Streaming FREE

Revolt! American Revolution 1775 – 1783 (2020)
Oppenheimer: Genius Or Madman? (2023)
Independence Daysaster (2013)
The First American (2018)
The Jackie Robinson Story (1950)
A League of Their Own (1992)
Hamilton: One Shot to Broadway (2017)
The 4th (2016)

Thanks for reading this article for 4th of July movie inspiration!

If you’re looking for more movies to watch with the family, than checkout our other family friendly articles!

We also have an article on the 100 Best Family Movies for Movie Night you can checkout next!

For some Summertime movies, read this article 25 Best Summer Movies to Enjoy This Season.

Or how about some more films about American history or culture?

33 Movies About American Presidents to Watch for Presidents Day Weekend
26 Top Football Movies for Sports Fans
25 Best Sports Movies of All Time

And don’t forget, every article comes with a FREE movie checklist!

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We hope to see you again soon!

best 4th of july movies checklist

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So, what are your thoughts on the movies included in this list? What additional movies would you have included? What movies would you have left off?

We encourage all comments and discussion!

Everyone is welcome!





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