Four films for the Fourth

Just like our forefathers, we want freedom — freedom from bad movies.

by Sarah Harper


Fourth of July is a holiday built for patriotic activities, like fighting with your uncle about Obamacare, setting off semilegal fireworks and eating burnt meat.

But what are we to do when the fun is over? How do we get our kicks when the parades have reached their ends, the mosquitoes are driving us nuts, and we can’t see the fireworks behind all those trees?

A&E has combed through its memory bank and its Netflix account to find you four of the best Independence Day films, no matter who you’re stuck in front of the TV with:




Directed by Andrew Fleming

Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Williams


What if everything you knew about Watergate was wrong? What if the scandal really hinged on the naiveté of two teenage girls? That’s the premise of “Dick,” the goofball parody in which Michelle Williams and Kirsten Dunst get White House VIPs high and harbor girlish crushes on Richard Nixon, aka Dick.

Williams and Dunst are the ultimate 15-year-old pals whose rash but good-natured choices determine the course of history. The best part is when they accidentally become the informant Deep Throat to Will Ferrell’s childish Bob Woodward.

To say this movie is hilarious is such an understatement that it borders on lie, akin to Dick himself croaking “I am not a crook.”


FOR THE POLITICO: “All the President’s Men”


Directed by Alan J. Pakula

Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Robert Redford


This movie is often named as one of the best films ever made, so it’s also good for the film buff in your life.

It’s the actual story of newspapermen Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein cracking the case of the Nixon administration’s wrongdoings wide open. It’s not at all a parody like “Dick” — it’s actually pretty serious. The film starts out with five burglars breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters. Richard Nixon’s tightly woven web of lies unravels from there.

Fun fact: This was the first movie that Jimmy Carter watched during his presidential term.


FOR THE ACTIVIST: “Born on the Fourth of July”’


Directed by Oliver Stone

Starring: Tom Cruise, Raymond J. Barry and Caroline Kava


A Vietnam War firefight paralyzed Ron Kovic. After the war, he faced even more crippling hardship — people back home just didn’t seem to care about his problems or those of his brothers in arms.

Kovic became a fervent anti-war activist. His autobiography “Born on the Fourth of July” was transformed into a screenplay, partly thanks to another Vietnam veteran, Oliver Stone.

The movie was the first to lead Tom Cruise to the Oscars water — he got his maiden Academy Award nomination for playing Kovic.


FOR THE TWEEN: “My Date with the President’s Daughter”


Directed by Alex Zamm

Starring: Dabney Coleman, Will Friedle and Elisabeth Harnois


It’s a mad-cap escapist fantasy where the president’s daughter gets to ditch the Secret Service and have a kooky night with the guy she met at the mall (Babe alert: He’s played by Will Friedle, aka Eric Matthews from “Boy Meets World.”) For once, the prez’s daughter gets to live like a normal girl — a normal girl who has intense adventures and a hunky love interest, that is.

Note: Even if we disregard Mandy Moore’s travesty, “Chasing Liberty,” there’s another movie standing at the fore of the White House offspring genre — “First Daughter” (2004), starring Katie Holmes is the black swan to “My Date with the President’s Daughter.” In spite of its made-for-TV nature, “My Date” is undoubtedly the superior of the two — and not just because it’s Katie Holmes-free.