Patriotic-ish Movies You Can Stream If You’re Stuck Indoors This July 4th

For many people, this Fourth of July weekend is sure to be a busy one — Parades! Picnics! Parties! But when the fireworks have all stopped and you’ve been rendered immobile after consuming too many grilled things — or if you just need a few hours to not talk to your family and friends — you can still get into the spirit of the weekend with some movies.

Here’s a list — far from encyclopedic, but a good start — of holiday-relevant viewing available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu (some are admittedly a bit of a stretch, but not every movie can be 1776):

Netflix

Armageddon
Bruce Willis — that steely-eyed icon of American can-do grit — is tasked with saving the world from a Texas-sized asteroid threatening to wipe out humankind. Meanwhile, Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” will threaten to take over your brain after only one listen.

Wet Hot American Summer and Wet Hot American Summer: The First Day of Camp
For the millions of Americans who’ve spent a Fourth of July at summer camp, theWHAS movie and series will bring back all those hours of macrame, capture the flag, and awkward adolescent social interactions. But funnier, and with Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and Janeane Garofalo.

Coming to America
The classic tale of a prince willfully turning himself into a pauper by way of employment at a fast food restaurant, Eddie Murphy’s high-born character ditches his royal status so he can work at a McDonald’s knockoff, belittle Arsenio Hall, woo the girl, and get the true American experience.

The Sum of All Fears
Based on the Jack Clancy novel, CIA agent Jack Ryan has to foil a sinister plot to push the U.S. and Russian into World War III. Morgan Freeman gets involved and imparts wisdom at some point. True, Ben Affleck is not the Jack Ryan that Harrison Ford or Alec Baldwin were in earlier movies, but at least he’s not in a superhero costume this time.

Forrest Gump
You know what they say about life, sometimes it can be boiled down to fictionalized versions of important events in American history in a movie starring Tom Hanks.

How to Make an American Quilt
Romantic drama about a group of women who come together every year to make quilts and tell stories about their lives. A spy thriller it is not.

Unsung Heroes: The Story of America’s Female Patriots
A documentary profiling some of the top-ranking women in the U.S. military.

Nick Offerman: American Ham
Nick Offerman’s secrets to a happy life involve red meat and minor nudity in this comedy special.

Of Men and War
A 2015 documentary following several veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, winner of a special jury award at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Twelve O’Clock High
This 1949 drama stars Gregory Peck as a brigadier general tasked with turning a bunch of jaded pilots into World War II heroes. Think Mighty Ducks, but with war instead of hockey, and Gregory Peck instead of Emilio Estevez.

Beavis and Butt-head Do America
Because your love of America doesn’t have to be pure, celebrate your independence by screaming, “I NEED TEEPEE FOR MY BUNGHOLE!”

Seal Team Six: The Raid On Osama Bin Laden
A dramatic recreation that follows U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 from training for a critical mission through the nighttime raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound.

Ken Burnsapalooza: The Roosevelts: An Intimate History
If you’re in the mood to eat up hours upon hours of time, documentarian Ken Burns is your man.

Making the American Man
Another documentary, this one takes a look at “the makers of American-made goods for men, and the resurgence of clothing manufacturing gin the United States,” according to IMDB.

American Genius
A National Geographic series that “depicts some of America’s fiercest scientific and technological rivalries, including Colt vs. Wesson, Edison vs. Tesla, and Jobs vs. Gates.”

Amazon Prime

Top Gun
Maverick! Goose! Iceman! Kenny Loggins!! Hotshot fighter pilots compete to be the best at The Top Gun Naval Fighter Weapons School while Tom Cruise learns some important life lessons about falling in love with your instructor.

The Ides of March
Nothing more American than political scandal, am I right? And even though Ryan Gosling is a Canadian, we’ll allow this movie on the list, since it’s an intense look at a (mercifully fictional) presidential primary campaign.

The Jackie Robinson Story
The Dodgers legend stars as himself in the 1950 drama about Robinson’s journey to becoming the player that broke long-enforced ban against non-whites in Major League Baseball.

The Tuskegee Airmen
Laurence Fishburne stars in this tale of “The Fighting 99th” — the first squadron of African American U.S. Army Air Corps fighter pilots in WWII.

Spirit of the Pony Express
The story of how the Pony Express became the Pony Express at the beginning of the Civil War. Also, PONIES!

Hulu

Top Gun
See our write-up above. Same movie; different streaming service.

Delta Farce
Larry the Cable Guy and some of his friends get mistaken for Army Reserves, and are sent off to war woefully unprepared. We can only assume hilarity ensues, or maybe it’s a dark existentialist drama about the barbaric nature of man. Either way: Larry the Cable Guy.

Saints and Soldiers
Four American soldiers team up with a British guy fighting the bad guys in Europe in World War II to get back behind Allied lines after being separated during the Malmedy Massacre.

Medal of Honor: The History
Not to be confused with Medal of Honor the video game, this documentary narrated by Gary Sinise looks at the history of the medal itself.

Hulu Is Working on a Live-Streaming Television Service

We may soon have another live-streaming television service to choose from as Hulu is apparently looking to get in on the action. Intended as a competitor to the traditional pay-TV providers, Hulu’s new venture would operate much like Sling TV and Sony’s PlayStation Vue and offer content at a monthly price of around $40 USD. And since it’s conveniently owned by the likes of Disney and Fox, you can bet that the likes of ABC, ESPN and FX will all be available. Somewhat odd, however, is the fact that NBCUniversal — another part-owner of Hulu and one of the more reluctant entries into the world of streaming television (probably because it’s owned by traditional cable provider Comcast) — probably won’t be participating. On the plus side, however, the service will probably offer an online DVR system, as well as on-demand access to old episodes of some shows (a la Hulu as it currently exists).

The new Hulu service is expected to be available as early as next year.

The Reason You Should Stop Paying For Cable

Like a lot of consumers tired of paying a hundred dollar monthly bill, I cancelled my cable subscription several years ago. Instead I rely on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, all streamed directly to my TV via a tiny Roku. Is it perfect? No, I don’t have any sports access. And I can’t watch live broadcasts.

But nothing’s perfect in life, and my TV setup now is in many ways far superior to the ancient cable box technology still imposed on paying customers by the big service providers. The obvious draw is the price. I’m paying a lot less money for basically the same service. Another advantage is the fact that I decide when to start and stop my programs. I don’t know how everyone else watches TV, but when I still had cable, I felt like the TV was always just on in the background. It was like the default way I lived my life.

What was worse was that there was never really anything on. I’d flip channels aimlessly before landing somewhere that spoon-fed me reruns I would have never actually made a deliberate choice to watch. Either that or I’d let the remote fall on one of the twenty-four hour cable news channels, while talking heads foamed at the mouth, constantly reminding me what a bunch of idiots the other half of the country is.

As a result of cutting the cord, I find that I watch a lot less TV, but that the TV that I do watch is something that I’m meaningfully engaged with. Instead of just settling for watching the second half of Spider-Man 2 because it happened to be playing on TBS, I can sit down and make it a point to watch a movie or a show from start to finish. Or I won’t watch anything, because it’s nice to not have the TV constantly yapping at the periphery of my consciousness.

Which is all to say, cable sucks. But that’s not really saying anything new. And again, I don’t have sports. Which, seriously, sports broadcasters, figure out a way to give me my local teams at a reasonable monthly price. I’d absolutely pay.

But while I’m largely satisfied with my current setup, there are few nagging problems that drive me crazy every time I settle in to watch some TV. And I guess I’m largely looking at you here, Hulu.

My biggest complaint with Hulu is, as a paid service, why do I still have to sit through the same amount of commercials as if I’m watching regular TV? I thought the whole point of the monthly subscription was that I’d get to skip the same old advertisements that do not influence at all how I’m going to spend my money.

And when I say the same old advertisements, I’m talking literally. Hulu has this annoying habit of showing the same two or three commercials on loop. Worse, they’re not even real commercials. It’s a bunch of low-budget clips, stuff you’d never see on a TV channel, obviously geared toward this idea of streaming TV as a low-budget form of entertainment.

At least, that’s what it seems like. There’s no other explanation as to why, during a twenty-minute sitcom, I’m forced to watch, four or five times, those cheesy commercials for some Internet exercise video service. I can’t even remember what it’s called. See, I’m watching these commercials on repeat and I can’t even remember the name. That’s not effective advertising.

Hulu, just stop it. I know, I know, I’m paying less money, I’m getting the same programming as if I had cable, but I’m still paying something. Should the price for convenience really be to see how many times you can annoy me during a half-hour period?

And I guess to a larger extent, I’m just so sick of being forced to view advertisements in every direction I turn my eyes. I know that advertising has to exist at least a little bit, but it’s becoming this plague, seeping into every corner of everything that I do. All of my web sites, all of my TV, it’s all ads, everywhere. Shea Stadium was replaced by Citi Field, and now the major sports leagues are trying to figure out how we can start advertising on jerseys. And who’s buying up all the ad space? Citibank? Coca-Cola? Does Coca-Cola really need to put its logo on sports jerseys to sell soda? Can’t we have just a little bit of personal space in our lives free from advertising? Because I’d pay a little extra to not have to have my senses constantly invaded by ads.

Also, Hulu, I’m getting really tired of how, every time I finish watching a show, you start automatically playing some other show that I have no interest in. I get it, you’re thinking, well, I have him sitting down and watching TV, maybe he’ll be too lazy sitting there on his couch to stop this next program from playing. Yes, I’m lazy, but no, I’m not going to start watching Hart of Dixie just because you say so. At least give me the option to turn this feature off.

Anyway, my current setup is still a lot better than the cable box. If you’re on the fence about cutting the cord, I say just go for it. You can always go back to overpriced cable bills if you really miss having a menu of hundreds of channels you’ll never actually watch.