Ben Stiller, Night at the Museum, Battle of the Smithsonian, patriotic movies for your next family movie night

Looking for patriotic movies for the whole family? Josie Ortega suggests 4th of July flicks that adults and kids can enjoy together.

4th of July Family Movie Night Crowd Pleasers

With limited options, adjusted vacation plans, and plenty of family togetherness, we may feel at a loss when it comes to making plans to celebrate America’s Independence Day this July 4.

In a summer like no other, enjoying an inspiring patriotic movie might serve to remind us Americans that we’re part of a story that’s larger than ourselves. We have much to be grateful for, and we, too, can be patriots who work toward “a more perfect union” where we all enjoy the “certain unalienable Rights [of] Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

To supplement the weekend fireworks and hotdogs, fire up the ol’ television—or even better, a sheet and a projector for a DIY outdoor movie theater! Grab your watermelon slices and popsicles, and enjoy and a patriotic Family Movie Night. 

Hamilton Musical, patriotic movies for your next family movie night, 4th of JulyAmerican Revolution Movies

Hamilton. When my husband, whose alma mater is named for Alexander Hamilton, told me there was a rap musical coming to Broadway based on that Founding Father’s life—I laughed and called it the worst idea in the world. Never let it be said that I don’t admit my errors! Disney Plus will be offering the Original Cast Broadway production of Hamilton beginning this July 3, and every family member will find something to love: the dancing, the Schuyler Sisters, the devilishly clever music—with references to everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to Biggie Smalls. (I mean, I feel like I could just end this post now, but I guess I’ll go on . . .)

Johnny Tremain. Witness the Boston Tea Party through the eyes of a young silversmith’s apprentice. Confession: This classic Disney patriotism moved me to tears last summer when I watched it with my kids. 

The Patriot. (R.I.P. Heath Ledger.) If you like this one, research the true history of the guerrilla militia leader on which Mel Gibson’s character is based: Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox!

Patriotic Washington, DC Movies

Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Our family loves this second installment of Ben Stiller’s Night at the Museum series, in which they hit a lot of the highlights on the National Mall. It’s super funny, with Hank Azaria as an entertaining (read: not very threatening) villain.

National Treasure. OK, this conspiracy theory treasure hunt adventure was a little over the top for me, but our kids called it the Best Movie Ever. And the adults could not help but be entertained by Nicolas Cage.

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Jimmy Stewart stars in one of my husband’s favorite films.

James Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, patriotic movies for your next family movie nightPolitical Rom-Coms

These comedies would probably work best with older kids, teens, and adults—or when you’re pretty sure the littles will fall asleep 20 minutes in after they’ve been playing on the slip-n-slide all day. As always: parents, make the call!

Coming to America. Eddie Murphy plays an African prince who moves to New York to find a bride.

The American President. POTUS, played by Michael Douglas, dates lobbyist, played by Annette Bening. 

Dave. Kevin Kline’s character is a regular citizen who happens to be the President’s doppelgänger. When the President falls into a coma, the puppet masters tap Dave to stand in. He might make a better job of it, and he might just be a better romantic match for the First Lady (Sigourney Weaver).

Of course, if you haven’t already binged The West Wing on Netflix, now is the time to do so! I’m betting that, whatever your politics, a Bartlet-Santos ticket would win in a landslide. 

Tom Cruise, Top Gun, patriotic movies for your next family movie night

Patriotic Movies to Make You Chant U-S-A!

Because sometimes you just want to get pumped up and wear your Red, White, and Blue.

Apollo 13. I remember experiencing a palpable tension in the theater, followed by exhilarating relief. Such catharsis may be just what the doctor ordered during a pandemic! Also: America’s Dad, Tom Hanks.

Top Gun. My advice: skip the tongue kissing part.

Rocky 4. Just some Cold War boxing!

Independence Day. At once totally patriotic, and totally global: a world united behind Will Smith kicking out the alien invaders.

What are your family’s Independence Day traditions? Share your favorites and plan your next Family Movie Night on FamilyApp!

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