Ah, the 4th of July. A holiday that celebrates the day America was officially born, and, for most Americans, it encapsulates everything that's great about summer. Family time, cold lemonade, grilling out, a feeling of freedom, and the nostalgia of being a kid. If you're looking for few movies to watch with the fam that capture the rare magic of the 4th of July, look no further.
This list has movies that are full of adventure, laughs, history, adventure, nostalgia, and patriotism. Whatever type of 4th of July movie you're in the mood for, we've got you covered.
4th of July Movies That Are Fun for Kids & Adults
Let's start with some of those classic summer movies that kids and their parents can all enjoy for the 4th of July. Chances are, if you're a parent, you might've loved these films when you were a kid. Time to pass Lady Liberty's torch to your kiddos!
Set in 1962, The Sandlot is the epitome of July 4th nostalgia, filled with baseball, iconic one-liners, Wendy Peffercorn, fireworks, and barbecues. The crew even plays their rival team in the annual 4th of July baseball game. However, this film is not about winning or losing a baseball game; it's about friendship, growing up and facing your fears.
Miracle is an uplifting and inspirational movie from 2004 based on the true story of the unlikely Gold Medal victory of the United States hockey team during the 1980 Winter Olympics, one of the great upsets in sports history.
Starring another national treasure, Nicolas Cage, National Treasure is a fun and truly action-packed adventure of a nation-wide treasure hunt - and it all starts with stealing the Declaration of Independence. Not the most patriotic move on Nick's part, but worth it for the story that ensues.
For parents looking for ways to keep their kids learning over the summer, watching movies with a bit of historical background is a really fun way to do it. Think about asking your kids how much of the movie they think was accurate in terms of the history and facts, and follow by looking up more information together when the movie ends.
The 1986 animated film American Tail is a musical comedy about a Russian mouse family escaping to America to get away from cats. Fievel, a young mouse, gets separated from his parents on the way to America. Alone in the New World, Fievel looks for his family, makes new friends and stays hopeful even as he dodges the cats the family thought they left behind in Russia. It was so good they even came out with two sequels.
Remember the Titans
Remember the Titans is a 2000 film that's based on actual events that happened in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1971 the local school board was forced to integrate an all-white school with an all-Black school. The year is seen through eyes of the football team, whose head coach came from the Black school.
As the boys and the adults learn to depend on and trust each other, the football team becomes the community's unifying symbol. This is a true classic that is loved by many because it's about so much more than football.
A League of Their Own
The 1992 film A League of Their Own is a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League - an instant home run in the classic movie department. The league was formed when most male league baseball players were sent to fight in World War II. Add this to your list and enjoy fun performances from Gina Davis, Rosie O'Donnell, Madonna - oh, and Tom Hanks is there, too.
The Music Man
Have a musical moment with none other than The Music Man. Although, he doesn't really know anything at all about music - he's a con artist salesperson trying to convince a town to buy his instruments with the false promise of starting a boys' band. This summer flick will put you in that nostalgic 4th of July mood - and it does actually take place during 4th of July.
Action-Packed PG-13 4th of July Movies for Families
Families with older kids will have a blast watching these more mature movies full of thrills and laughs that capture the American spirit.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Follow Marvel comic book superhero Captain America in his origin story. In an experiment, he is transformed from a small WWII hero to a super-soldier, now prepared to take on the villains of the story. This one will definitely put you in the mood to celebrate America! It's also our Family editor's top pick to watch with your pre-teens or teens this summer.
Top Gun & Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun tells the story of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) at Top Gun, a Naval Fighter Weapons School where the best pilots in the navy are trained. This movie has all the thrills and romance you could want from an 80s flick. And even if you haven't seen the first one, don't miss its sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, which continue's Maverick's story as he returns 40 years later as an instructor at Top Gun.
The 1994 movie is about Forrest Gump, a lovable, gentle man whose only desire is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart and how he gets caught up in the 20th century's most significant events. This film is the ultimate underdog story and a virtual history lesson that takes you into historical and pop culture moments throughout Forrest's epic life.
Independence Day was an absolute classic for many 90s kids. What's more American than fighting off aliens who are threatening not only the U.S., but the whole world, on the 4th of July? I can't think of anything. Check this one out for a guaranteed good time.
Historical 4th of July Movies for Families
There's a lot to learn about US history, and the 4th of July is the perfect time to introduce kids to how the our country came to be, and to remind adults who may have forgotten - but in a fun way.
Stream Hamilton on Disney+ for an exciting musical exploration of Hamilton's experience during the American Revolution and after. If you're like the rest of us, the hip hop and R'n'B Broadway tunes will go straight onto your pump-up playlist.
The New World
The 2005 film New World is a dramatization of the legendary Pocahontas' relationships with Captain John Smith and John Rolfe, who journeyed to the new world and established Jamestown, the first American colony.
A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation
A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation is a film from 1989 that dramatizes the events of the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It highlights the different philosophies and beliefs of the founding fathers, how they created the Constitution, and how difficult it was to get everyone to work together.
Johnny Tremain is a 1957 Disney movie about an apprentice silversmith who attended the Boston Tea Party and other high points of the American Revolution.
Based on a Broadway musical of the same name, 1776 follows the Continental Congress's political struggle in the days leading to the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
War Hero Movies for the 4th of July
American soldiers are the guardians of the American way of life, and these films explore the stories of our heroes throughout the centuries.
Da 5 Bloods
This war drama tells the story of four African American veterans who return to Vietnam to find the remains of their fallen squad leader - and hidden gold. Directed by Spike Lee, you're bound to be entertained by the unique story of Da 5 Bloods.
The Patriot is a Revolutionary War epic starring Mel Gibson. He begins as a peaceful farmer who, after his son is killed, is pushed to lead a militia group to help fight the British soldiers.
Saving Private Ryan
The 1998 Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan begins with the Allied invasion of Normandy Beach on June 6, 1944, but goes on to tell of the search for private James Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. On this search, Captain John Miller and his men are surrounded by the brutal realities of war, and each discovers the strength to triumph over the uncertainties of war with honor, decency, and courage.
Released in 1989, Glory is a war film is filled with some little-known US history. It's the riveting story of the heroes of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. A regiment of African Americans wanting to ensure the freedom of enslaved Americans during the US Civil War.
Flags of Our Fathers
A photograph of six US soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima during WWII became a symbol of victory for a war-weary nation, and the soldiers who raised the US flag became heroes. Flag of Our Fathers (2006) tells the story of these American heroes.
4th of July Movies That Celebrate Rights for Everyone
The 4th of July is the perfect time to watch a movie that honors this phrase from the US Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal."
Follow the story of Harriet Tubman, based on real historical events. Harriet was an abolitionist who helped free hundreds of slaves via the Underground Railroad, making her one of the truest American heroes in history.
The 2014 film Selma chronicles the unforgettable true story of a tumultuous three-month period in 1965 and tells how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his brothers and sisters in the civil rights movement created change that forever altered US history.
On the Basis of Sex
Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a historic career. She struggled for equal rights, and her early cases regarding gender discrimination led to her nomination and confirmation as US Supreme Court Associate Justice. The 2018 film, On the Basis of Sex, follows RBG's life from her entrance into Harvard Law School to walking up the steps of the US supreme court building.
The Rosa Parks Story
The Rosa Parks Story, released in 2002, tells the story of a strong but gentle Black woman who stood up for what was right. Rosa Parks was not the first Black person to refuse her seat on a bus to a white person. Still, Rosa Parks' refusal led to a seminal event in the US's civil rights movement, the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama. In this movie, Rosa recalls events leading up to her act of peaceful defiance.
The Help is 2011 film is about a Southern white girl who dreams of being a writer and returns to her small town during the 1906s civil rights movement and ends up writing a book from the African American maids' point of view. As it turns out, the town's maids have a lot to say about the white families for which they work and the daily hardships they face.
Hidden Figures (2016) is based on the unbelievable true-life stories of three mathematically brilliant African-American women recruited by NASA. Known as "human computers," Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson transcended both gender and racial bias to achieve a historical event that restored the USA's confidence, turned the Space Race around, and galvanized the world.
Coming to America Movies for the 4th of July
Lady Liberty says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." The US welcomed immigrants, grew, and prospered due to those who bravely traveled to America to find a better life.
Far and Away
The 1992 film Far and Away is an old-fashioned epic romantic adventure tale of two Irish immigrants who make it to New York City and then travel to Oklahoma to take part in the big 1893 land run and claim valuable land that once belonged to Native Americans for their own.
My Family is a 1995 film about three generations of a Mexican American family told by the oldest son of a Mexican man who made a one-year journey, on foot, from Mexico to Los Angeles. It then follows the problems a Mexican American family faces assimilating into the American culture.
4th of July Movies About American Presidents
There are many movies about US Presidents to select from for 4th of July family viewing. What follows are three of the best and most inspiring.
Lincoln is a 2012 American biographical, historical drama that brings the past to life and is a great family history lesson. It focuses on the nuts and bolts of Lincoln's presidency while giving viewers an inside look at one of the most tumultuous times in our country's history.
PT-109 (1963) is the dramatization of President John F. Kennedy's heroic WWII military experiences. President Kennedy commanded a PT boat that sank after being rammed by a Japanese destroyer while on patrol in the South Pacific. The film chronicles the story of the survivors.
The Butler (2013) is about a sharecropper's son who grew up in the 1920s as a white family's domestic servant. Eventually striking out on his own, he (Robin Williams) becomes a butler in the White House. In this position, he served eight US presidents up close and personal and witnessed 30 years of American history.
Black and White July 4th Movies That Are Just as Good Today
Classic films about America are often as relevant today as they were decades ago.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) is a classic film that tells the story of Jefferson Smith. Jeffery, the poster child for patriotism, is appointed to fill a vacancy in the US Senate. But his plans to establish a national boy's camp quickly collide with political corruption. Mr. Smith doesn't back down and continues to believe that children are the future and that the average American can make a difference in the country's future.
Modern Times is a 1936 silent film comedy classic about Charlie Chaplin's Little Tramp's struggle to survive in the industrialized modern world. Film historian Jeffrey Vance writes in an essay for the Library of Congress that "Modern Times is perhaps more meaningful now than at any time since its first release."
Yankee Doodle Dandy
If unabashed patriotism and flag-waving are what you want for your family on July 4, the 1942 musical Yankee Doodle Dandy is for you. This classic movie follows George M. Cohan's life from his early days as a child-vaudeville star until his comeback when President Roosevelt presented him with a Gold Medal authorized by Congress in 1936 for composing two of America's most patriotic songs, Over There and The Grand Old Flag.
American Frontier 4th of July Movies
Movies that tell tales of the Westward journeys of hardy and adventurous Americans are likely to be favorite for Independence Day family viewing.
Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier
This big-screen 1955 movie Davy Crockett was edited from television episodes. It features Davy Crockett in a coonskin cap battling Native Americans, becoming a US congressman, and making his last stand at the Alamo.
Little Big Man
This 1970 film is endlessly entertaining and makes an important statement about Native American Indians, the West, and the American dream. Little Big Man dramatizes the life story of 121-year-old Jack Crabb, who was brought west as a settler, was rescued and raised by the Cheyenne and sat at the foot of Old Lodge Skins, who instructed him in the Cheyenne way of life.
Celebrate the US With a Memorable Movie
For a holiday as great as the 4th of July, it's no surprise there are so many movies that either take place on the 4th or tell an inspirational story that captures the American spirit. You can't go wrong when it comes to celebrating your country with your family, and munching on some 4th of July cookies while watching a fun film is one way to do it!