It’s July 4th, and you know what that means — scrambling for a story idea that hasn’t been exploited yet. Much. Hey, it’s the American way. And in Hollywood Cinema, you’ll find plenty of pandering to the home crowd, some more effective then others.
Here are our Top 5 Great American Moments in Hollywood Cinema.
5. Independence Day – The Prez Rallies the Troops
Gotta admit, Roland Emmerich’s “Independence Day” doesn’t really hold up to repeat viewing. And this is coming from a guy who saw it twice in theaters. It’s actually pretty bad, in a good-bad sort of way. Over the years I’ve actually grown to hate Will Smith’s generic “smart-mouth black guy” character in the movie, and I think by now everyone has pretty much ridiculed the film’s “upload a virus to the alien computer using an Apple” bit to death, so I won’t pile on. The film’s best American moment has to be when Bill Pull, playing the film’s President, rallies the troops for one final attack against the invading (and seemingly invincible) alien horde. Hell, he even references independence day!
4. Armageddon – Bruce Willis and the Rough Necks Save the Day
Michael Bay gets a lot of crap for overly jingoistic visuals in his movies, but I like to think of Michael Bay as a guy who appreciates his country … and likes to blow shit up to prove it. You’ll find plenty of American flags waving patriotically in a Michael Bay movie, including in his killer asteroid flick “Armageddon”. What the film teaches us is that, America is so awesome, when the whole world is in peril, we ride to the rescue. Hell, even our roughneck oil drillers are capable of saving the day … in exaggerated slow motion, no less. That’s how awesome we are, dammit.
3. Rocky IV – Rocky Beats Drago
Also known as the film that gave us Dolph Lundgren, a college graduate with a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering who decided to try his hand in the vacuous world of movie acting, “Rocky IV” also pitted America against the Russians during the Cold War-era of the ’80s. Facing a seemingly unstoppable foe that soaked up steroid injections like the Red Behemoth he is, Rocky was outmatched, outmuscled, and even outcountried — the fight took place in Russia. But you know what? Rocky wasn’t out-American, that’s for damn sure, and he came out swinging and eventually won the battle. While not exactly the greatest example of subtle Hollywood moviemaking (okay, it was probably as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face), the film did prove one thing: never, ever mess with a guy wearing stars and stripes on his boxing trunks.
2. Team America – Theme Song
Hey, the word “America” is in the title! So it’s pretty much a given that Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s criminally underappreciated marionette movie would end up somewhere on our list. A parody of everything that’s wrong with American foreign policy as seen through the eyes of two brilliant satirists, “Team America” managed to do everything all at once — build up America, tear it down, build it back up again, only to tear it down some more. Bonus points: it did it all with impossibly fake looking marionette puppets! The film’s theme song offers up all of America’s greatness, warts and all. Who are we? We’re America — Fuck Yeah!
1. Saving Private Ryan – Landing at Omaha Beach
I know what you’re thinking: “Wait, I thought this was a humorous article?” True, a lot of great cinematic American moments can be taken from some of Hollywood’s less-than-prestigious offerings, but you can also find some stunning examples from the Award-winning ones. Take Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan”, which offers up one of the most visceral, painful moviegoing experience of my lifetime. (I have never flinched more during a movie than during “Ryan”.) Nothing exemplifies the film more than its nearly 30 minutes storming of Omaha Beach to open the film. Through all the deaths, violence, and horror, one thing is clear: when the chips were down and something had to absolutely get done, you send in the Americans come hell or high water. In this case, there were both … hell and high water. And oh yeah, the rest of the film ain’t bad, either.