I've talked to some people that say they've been watching The Patriot in honor of our independence day. They've said that in these troubled times, it reminds them of how our country started. I, for one, think that's a bit sad. I liked The Patriot okay when I saw it; but I've always thought of it as Braveheart Lite. British=Bad, Americans=Good. I think we can do better. Here are 10 other films that are better examples of the American character.
1)Mr. Smith Goes to Washington: Frank Capra classic about a small town man with strong moral values unwittingly exposing corruption in the government he is elected to. Corny, sure. But Jimmy Stewart's warm presence should be enough to sell this movie to anyone.
2) The Majestic: The Frank Darabont film that no one saw. Jim Carrey plays a Hollywood screenwriter in the 1950s. He winds up on the Hollywood blacklist ruining his career and his life. Through series of circumstances he winds up in a small town with no memory of who he is. The towns folk mistake him for their town's favorite son. This film discusses the price of war, the witch hunts of the 50s.
3) The Right Stuff: The genesis of NASA. The story of the original seven astronauts. It is also the story of America's evolution from World War II into the space race of the 1960s. Peppered with interludes featuring Sam Sheperd as a young Chuck Yeager, this film is part western, part adventure, all American.
4) Cinderella Man: The story of James Braddock, a boxer who was believed to be used up, defying the odds in the Great Depression to defeat the heavy weight champion and become number one. Americans have always loved underdogs, perhaps it is because we once were the underdog. This film is beautiful, inspiring and well done.
5) The War: Kevin Costner plays a Vietnam vetran who has returned to his family in Mississippi. This movie weaves racism, marriage and growing up into the quintessential American story.
6) Avalon: Barry Levinson's masterpeice set in his hometown of Baltimore. This film shows several generations of a family of immigrants grow from their entry into the country until the age of television in the 1950s. A beautiful rememberance of times gone by and the importance of family.
7) Good Night and Good Luck: A portrayal of Edward R. Murrow's on air battle against McCarthyism and the communist witch hunts across America in the 50s.
8) Trumbo: This documentary explores the life, career, tragedy and eventual triumph of Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Subject to the HUAC hearings as one of the Hollywood Ten, Trumbo managed to rise above the bullying and express his displeasure with his government through script writing. Principled and flawed, Trumbo was the quintessential American.
9) Sullivan's Travels: The film that partially inspired O' Brother Where Art Thou?, is a brilliant comedy directed by the great Preston Sturges. This movie is all about a film director who is tired of making comedies and wants to get to the heart of America during The Great Depression...with hilarious results.
10) Hero: This film pokes fun at America's idolization of media heroes. Dustin Hoffman plays Bernie LaPlante, New York scumbag who saves several people from a plane crash. Andy Garcia plays John Bubber, homeless war vet who takes credit for the rescue. At the end of the film Hoffman says: ...what you realize is that there ain't no truth, just bullshit. You find the layer of bullshit you prefer, and that's your bullshit." That wisdom sums up the entire film.
And those were just the ones off of the top of my head and lets face it, they're all better representations of America than the offerings of The Patriot. (Man, I miss Riggs)
Anyway, did I miss any? Is there a film that should be on this list, let me know.
I chose these films because America is more complicated than good versus evil. Many of these films portray our country's flaws and shortcomings as well as our humor and strength. Happy American Independence Day!