Ten Reasons Why ‘Independence Day’ is My Favorite Movie

Ten Reasons Why 'Independence Day' is

Yes, you read the headline right

There are a few admissions one should not make as a reporter at Variety, and I’m going to tell you the biggest one: “Independence Day” is my favorite movie of all time.

I know how this sounds, and it’s terrible. I sit a few desks away from our film critics and they’re probably worried I’m going to infect them with my bad taste. But the truth is that I’ve never had more fun in a movie theater than I did during “Independence Day,” and here are ten of my best reasons why.

1. Worrisome attraction to Bill Pullman.

Nine-year-old me didn’t understand the feelings she had for Bill Pullman, and 26-year-old me doesn’t quite get them, either. Perhaps it’s because he’s got an earnest version of Alec Baldwin’s fake-gravelly voice from “30 Rock,” and this tricks me into thinking he is dark and mysterious (26-year-old me and 9-year-old me fall for the same men, apparently). Whatever’s going on, he’s fun to watch.

2. Jeff Goldblum is among the closest we’ve gotten to a Jewish superhero.

That heading almost read that Goldblum is THE closest we’ve gotten, but apparently Wikipedia has a whole list of Jewish superheroes, and he’s on it (along with Judd Hirsch’s character!). Goldblum may also be the original hipster: plaid-clad, bike-riding, environmentally conscious and tormented — the thinking woman’s sex symbol. Only Goldblum’s geeky genius and increasingly protruding chest hair save earth.

3. Randy Quaid’s loser-turned-winner story.

Quaid plays an alcoholic crop duster who can’t even manage to spray the right field. But by the end of the movie, he quits drinking and miraculously flies his plane into juuuuuuuuuuuuuust the right spot on the alien spacecraft, thereby igniting a chain reaction that blows the whole thing up into massive spacecraft fireballs which land on earth. This brings me to my next point:

4. Massive fireballs.

No one knows how to blow up the White House quite like Roland Emmerich, and “Independence Day” is the best evidence of that (although to be fair, I haven’t seen his latest pic “White House Down”). The special effects are impressive and earned “Independence Day” the VFX Oscar in 1997. And they still hold up pretty well in a CGI-saturated world.

5. Will Smith punching an alien.

I think you will agree with me that this requires no further explanation. “Welcome to Earth,” Smith barks at the alien, which is probably the best thing one COULD say after punching an alien. Smith then DRAGS the alien through the desert, referring to its tentacles as “dreadlocks.” I’m going to ignore the racial undertones of this, because it’s July 4th and that means America is perfect. When a caravan of Quaid’s trailer buddies finds him, Smith knows EXACTLY how to get to Area 51, even though the president doesn’t even know it exists.

But the president is still amazing because of —

6. Bill Pullman’s speech.

American presidents have made a lot of moving speeches throughout history. I’m not saying that Pullman’s pep talk is more inspiring than the Gettysburg Address. I’ve just never seen a drunken film major with an American flag cape climb to the roof of a West Philly house party and recite that ENTIRE THING.

7. Judd Hirsch’s Yiddishisms and accent.

“If I knew I was going to meet the president, I would have worn a tie. Look at me, I look like a schlemiel.” It’s like I’m watching my own grandfather hunch over a steering wheel as he argues with Goldblum about how fast to drive to the White House. “What’s the rush? You think we’ll get to Washington, it won’t be there?”

8. Words of wisdom.

“You’re never going to get to fly the space shuttle if you marry a stripper,” Harry Connick Jr. says after he finds out that Smith wants to propose to his exotic dancer girlfriend. Not exactly the type of advice my mother would give me, but perhaps it will be useful one day.

9. Story arcs.

The four guys who save the world all have little story arcs, and you care about them: SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVEN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE IN THE LAST 20 YEARS: Smith gets to fly into space after all. Goldblum wins back his ex. Pullman becomes the kind of leader every U.S. president dreams of being, and nobody ever manages in real life. Quaid kind of comes out on top, despite the fact that he dies: He redeems himself to his kids, quits drinking AND blows up a giant ship full of aliens.

10. But maybe the best thing about “Independence Day” is:

20th Century Fox is developing another “Independence Day.” I predict two versions: One patriotic event film, and one film that Fox hopes will get into China: U.S. forces team up with the Chinese to save the world while teaching us a lesson about the perils of the West along the way.

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  1. cswebber says:

    I, too, would like to add my name to the long list of people that LOVE this movie, still, to this day.

    And I also wanted to point out how insanely accurate one half of your prediction was. I mean, the Chinese pilot and the Chinese General had somewhat pivotal roles. Consequently, I’m hoping China buoys up IDR’s box office enough for another sequel.

    Also, can you provide me with two possible outcomes for my near future? I would really appreciate that. Thanks!

  2. kathryn says:

    I also love this movie, but can ANYONE tell me who is walking along side of the President after he has climbed OUT of his cockpit. It IS NOT a Sutherland, or at least if it is he refuses credit. Thanks for the answer if anyone has one.

  3. Karyn says:

    I also love this movie for all of the same reasons pointed out. I watch it whenever it is on and never grow tired of it!

  4. bhash says:

    Ill take it a step further and say your number 5 is my number 1 favourite movie moment of all time. I’m in my thirties and haven’t been in a fight in a long time but I have often fantasized that if the alien and i lived in the same apartment complex (which i would insist on) and it left lint in the dryer lint trap,, or decided that he would like the 7/11 clerk to check a massive pile of losing lotto tickets, or maybe looked at me wierdly. Ok so maybe i have to lower my alien punch standards would have to lower my punch standards – but to fulfill my ‘welcome to earth alien punch fantasy’ certain sacrafices must be made…I might also quote a prolific schoolyard bully who I once overheard proclaiming “This is what I represent in ’96” – this was used for a human punch. Thats different I think.

  5. nice says:

    “I’m not Jewish.”
    “Nobody’s perfect.”

  6. paskuniag says:

    Being a financial news editor who is also a movie fan gives you added credibility, in that you can say, for example, that if my Disney shares take a dive, it will be due to the rampant failure at the BO of “The Lone Ranger”. And I’ll believe it.
    PS I like ID4, too, but my own favorite movie is “1776”. See you in left field!

  7. Cros says:


    Possibly you left this off your list:

    11. I was 9 at the time, a very impressionable age.

    (A film I saw when I was 9 is still my favourite film, ever. The Sound of Music)

  8. This is precious. Variety just fell off the credibility cliff. Financial News Editor? Really? Reading that in tandem with this bit of opinion fluff makes me inclined to trust The Hollywood Reporter. Or maybe Entertainment Weekly, for all the gravitas it provides. Damn, people, I do hope you were joking when you let this editor scribble a fawning piece of drivel on Independence forcrissakes Day.

    • Frank W says:

      Cinematic Cleve! As my favourite movie is Citizen Kane and Casablance is #2, Star Wars # 3 (well used to be) and my 12 year old self’s #1, The Omega Man is still in my top 10, I think you’re being too harsh on ID4.

      If the financial news editor is inspired to write her love for ID4 during Independence Day, why shouldn’t she?

      ID4 is a “Popcorn Epic.” It doesn’t fire on all cylinders–I actually hate most of the president’s contrived speech, though it ends great–and the extended edition shows how the whole movie could have really sucked, but i do feel it was a great movie for what it is, even copying the Chuck Yeager/The Right Stuff walk at the end. Even though it’s a little stupid in the dialog, I cry when Randy Quaid sacrifices himself to save his kids. Unfortunately, he did survive but was captured and tortured by the aliens and is hiding out in Canada with his wife where the brain implants don’t work.

      One of the best things the movie shows is the ingenuity of filmakers when they have little money to work with. The budget was around $70 million as I recall and what they were making easily could have cost a then whopping 200 million! I don’t know all of the behind the scenes details but watching a behind the scenes doc, they used multiple cameras to film one dangerous fire stunt and use it more than once because of different angles. For effects they used a mixture of models and CGI (back when CGI could keep costs down).

      Just watching the film over and over, observations tell me more than half, if not all of the movie was filmed at one location, the old “Hughes” plant in the desert and the interiors of all the operations rooms in several locations were all filmed there, just redressed each time.

      The other interesting thing I noticed is that since there is a credit to a company that owns the jet fighter replicas, that in the initial alien attack, not ONE SINGLE PLANE IS BLOWN UP! lots of trucks and such, but no planes. That’s one way to save.

  9. Edward Shoniwa says:

    I love the movie because it breakers race and occuipation difference for the ultimate purpose to save the world.

  10. This is in my top ten movie list. The presidential speech still raises the hairs on my arms.

  11. Alex says:

    About the only film I can watch all the way through anymore. It’s pretty impressive.

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