The USA was born on July 4, 1776, when the founding fathers adopted The Declaration of Independance. Each year on the 4th of July, American families celebrate Independance Day with barbecues, picnics, and fireworks. A great way to end the celebration is with a movie. 4th of July movies for families are full of history, adventure, nostalgia, and humor. Still, most importantly, watching these films inspires renewed family patriotism.
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 US came to be and to remind adults who may have forgotten.
The New World
This 2005 film 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
This 1989 movie 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.
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.
This 1963 film 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.
This 2013 movie 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 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.
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 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 1990 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.
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.
This 1986 animated film musical comedy is 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.
Nostalgic 4th of July Movies for Families
Nostalgic 4th of July movies are visual history lessons that are fun and heartwarming.
Set in 1962, this film, filled with baseball, swimming pools, fireworks, and barbecues, is the epitome of July 4th nostalgia. 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 growing up and facing your fears.
This 2004 movie is an uplifting and inspirational movie 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.
The 1994 movie is about Forrest Gump, a slow-witted innocent 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 and has a sweet, feel-good ending.
Classic July 4th Movies for Families
Classic films about America are often as relevant today as they were decades ago.
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
This 1939 classic film is 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, this 1942 musical 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.
War Hero Movies for the 4th of July
American soldiers are the heroes who are the guardians of the American way of life.
Saving Private Ryan
This 1998 Spielberg film 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. This 2006 film tells the story of these American heroes.
4th of July Movies that Empower Women
The recognition and empowerment of women have long been on the American woman's agenda.
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.
This 2016 film 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.
A League of Their Own
What family wouldn't like to see a baseball movie on the 4th of July, but this one's a bit different. Its baseball heroes are women. This 1992 film is a fictionalized account of the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. This league was formed when most male league baseball players were sent to fight in World War II.
4th of July Civil Rights Movies
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."
This 2014 film 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.
The Rosa Parks Story
This film, 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.
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.
Visual History Lessons
Any great 4th of July movie is a visual history lesson that can make you laugh, cry, and understand the struggles, successes, diversity, and oneness of the United States of America. The unofficial motto proposed by the founding fathers in 1776 was E Pluribus Unum. This is a Latin phrase meaning "One from many." And on Independance Day, the "many" celebrate the birth of their nation as "one."