When the barbecue has been eaten and the fireworks all safely set off there may come a point this Fourth of July where you and your kids find you’re ready to just chill out with a fun movie. But which movie? Sure, you could watch the latest summer Blockbuster or pull up Frozen for the 900th time — Or you could opt for one of these 20 family-friendly patriotic films. From tales about baseball to stories pulled straight from American history, these films keep the Fourth of July spirit rolling all weekend long.
While younger kids may prefer following Fievel’s daring adventures in
An American Tail or cheering on the Rockford Peaches in A League Of Their Own, middle school-aged children may prefer to learn about the lives of real American heroes in Hidden Figures, Harriet, 42, or Selma. For families that love action, Men in Black, Independence Day, National Treasure, and Captain America: The First Avenger offer stories packed with thrills.
With 20 family-friendly films centered around patriotism, freedom, or just plain summer fun on the list to choose from, you’re sure to find at least one movie on the list that everyone in the house can agree on. So assemble some festive
red-white-and-blue treats and get ready to hit “play.” 1 An American Tail
Like many of the real-life families that have immigrated to America, the Mousekewitzs are in search of a better life. When cats destroy their home in Russia in 1885, the mouse family decides to seek a new life in America. But while sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, young Fievel Mousekewitz becomes separated from his family after being thrown overboard during a fierce storm. Thankfully, a bottle carries Fievel to New York, where two immigrant mice and a kind cat help him find his family.
Stream An American Tail, rated G, on Peacock. 2 A League Of Their Own
Few things are as emblematic of America as baseball. The sport is, after all, America's National Pastime. For all the patriotic feels, cue up
A League Of Their Own. The film stars Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell, and Lori Petty among others and centers around a professional all-female baseball league that gets its start after World War II. Coached by Jimmy Dugan, a grumpy baseball has-been, the girls must learn to put aside their own rivalries and differences if they have any chance at winning. Stream A League of Their Own, rated PG, on HBO Max. 3 Hidden Figures
Celebrate the Fourth of July by diving into the stories of real-life American heroes.
Hidden Figures tells the true story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson — three brilliant Black women whose incredible mathematical work at NASA launched astronaut John Glenn into space and cemented America’s achievements in the so-called Space Race. Stream Hidden Figures, rated PG, on Disney+. 4 Annie
I know what you’re thinking: How is a film about an orphan hoping to find her real parents a Fourth of July flick? It’s true that, as a whole,
Annie isn’t a film centered on a patriotic message. However, Annie officially finds her forever home with Daddy Warbucks on the Fourth of July and the pair launch a massive fireworks display to celebrate the occasion. Stream Annie, rated PG, on either Starz (the 1982 version starring Carol Burnett and Tim Curry) or Disney+ (the 1999 version starring Kathy Bates and Alan Cumming). 5 National Treasure
Nicolas Cage stars in
National Treasure, a film that follows a young historian named Benjamin Franklin Gates as he searches for a trove of treasure hidden away by the nation’s founding fathers during the American Revolution. But can a secret coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence lead Gates to the treasure before his rival finds it and pockets it for himself? Stream National Treasure, rated PG, on Disney+. 6 The Sandlot
The summer of 1962 is an eventful one for Scottie Smalls. It’s when his family moves to the Los Angeles suburbs, where he befriends a group of kids who spend their days playing baseball at the neighborhood sandlot. Over the course of the summer, the boys have a series of adventures, including multiple run-ins with a monster of a dog known as “the beast” and a meeting with a former professional baseball player. Keep your eyes peeled for the film’s fun Fourth of July scene.
Stream The Sandlot, rated PG, on Hulu. 7 Night At The Museum
Desperate for a job, Larry Daley (played by Ben Stiller) applies for a job as a night-time security guard at the Natural History Museum. What he didn’t count on, however, was just how busy the museum would get after hours. On his first night on the job, Larry discovers an Egyptian curse brings the museum’s exhibits to life every night. Can he brush up on his history fast enough to keep the museum’s displays from getting into too much trouble?
Stream Night at the Museum, rated PG, on Disney+. 8 The Incredibles
After superheroes are banned from using their superpowers by the government, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl settle into quiet suburban lives as average citizens. Fifteen years and three children later, Mr. Incredible is called on to stop a rogue robot. When he’s captured, his superhero family must band together to save him and their town.
Stream The Incredibles, rated PG, on Disney+. 9 Miracle Miracle details the true story of Herb Brooks triumphant return to the ice. Twenty years after being cut from the 1960 U.S. Olympic hockey team, Brooks is called to coach the nation’s 1980 team to Olympic gold. After assembling a team of top-notch college players, Brooks struggles to train them to function as a team rather than individual hotshots. Can they come together to defeat the long-standing champion team from the Soviet Union and bring home a victory for the United States amid the Cold War? Stream Miracle, rated PG, on Disney+. 10 Becoming
What better way to mark the Fourth of July holiday than with a closer look at the life of a first lady. In the documentary
Becoming, former First Lady Michelle Obama shares her life, hopes, and sense of purpose with viewers as she travels from city to city to promote her memoir of the same name. Stream Becoming, rated PG, on Netflix. 11 Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The First Avenger is set in 1941 as the world remains embroiled in World War II. Rejected by the army due to his small stature, Steve Rogers signs up for an experimental super-soldier program in a last-ditch effort to do his part for the war effort. After being injected with a special serum and subjected to rays, Steve becomes a super-soldier and given the nickname Captain America. He then attempts a solo mission to infiltrate a Nazi fortress and rescue a group of American soldiers being held prisoner there. Stream Captain America: The First Avenger, rated PG-13, on Disney+. 12 Harriet
While the Fourth of July is often focused on celebrating America’s freedom from Britain with events like parades, fireworks, and backyard barbecues, the truth is Black people in America were far from being free when the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776. Take a moment with your family to reflect on America’s dark history of slavery with
Harriet, a biographical film about abolitionist Harriet Tubman and her involvement in The Underground Railroad. Stream Harriet, rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime or Hulu with a Cinemax add-on. 13 Independence Day
After an unknown extraterrestrial race launches a global attack on Earth in an effort to destroy every last living thing, the United States government must forge an international coalition and launch a counter-attack on the Fourth of July. With the planet under attack, an unlikely group of heroes bands together to save the world.
Stream Independence Day, rated PG-13, on HBO Max. 14 Hamilton
Lin-Manuel Miranda brings the story of one of America’s founding fathers to life in the Broadway musical
Hamilton. Over the course of two acts, viewers are taken through a number of notable moments in Alexander Hamilton’s life, including his marriage to Elizabeth Schuyler and his role in the American Revolution. Thankfully, families can now enjoy Hamilton without purchasing airfare to New York City. Stream Hamilton, rated PG-13, on Disney+. 15 Lincoln
Infuse your family’s Fourth of July with a bit of history by streaming the biographical historical drama
Lincoln. The film, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, focuses on the final months of President Abraham Lincoln’s life and his attempt to abolish slavery via the 13th Amendment. Stream Lincoln, rated PG-13, on HBO Max. 16 Men in Black
Kay and Jay, a team of secret agents known as the Men in Black, are the heroes most humans know nothing about. The pair supervise and manage alien refugees who secretly live among humans. When an unauthorized alien crash lands on Earth and begins killing other aliens while searching for a device known only as The Galaxy, Kay and Jay are sent to neutralize the problem.
Stream Men In Black, rated PG-13, on Starz. 17 42
In 1946, Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play Major League Baseball. But as
42 reveals, breaking baseball’s color barrier was no walk around the bases. While Robinson finds an ally in Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, he still faces racist and hostile baseball fans, white players who refuse to play with him, and an unrelenting pressure to “prove” his worth on the field. The late Chadwick Boseman stars as Robinson. Stream 42, rated PG-13, on HBO Max. 18 Selma
Set in the mid-1960s, Selma chronicles how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. organized
the Selma to Montgomery march in Alabama in response to the violent oppression and overt racism Blacks across the country were facing, especially when attempting to vote. Despite his arrest and numerous threats against himself and his family, King persisted with his plans to march. When the first marchers set off on March 7, 1965, Alabama state troopers violently attacked them with clubs and tear gas, sparking national outrage. A few days later, King led followers on a second march attempt, followed nearly two weeks later by a third march, where members of the Alabama National Guard were ordered by President Lyndon Johnson to protect the 25,000 marchers. King’s tireless activism ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Stream Selma, rated PG-13, on Amazon Prime. 19 Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front
Set sometime after America entered World War II in 1941,
Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front centers around 3rd-grader Molly McIntire as she struggles to understand and cope with how war is changing her and her family’s daily lives. Part of the film focuses on Molly’s desire to win the role of “Miss Victory” in an upcoming patriotic performance put on by her school. Stream Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front, which is unrated but recommended for children age 7 and up, on YouTube, Apple TV, or Amazon Prime. 20 Miss Juneteenth
While many characterize the Fourth of July as a celebration of freedom, the holiday does not mark a day when
all Americans were free as the enslavement of Black people in America continued for nearly 100 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed. As a result, many Black communities mark Juneteenth as the holiday commemorating the day all slaves were finally notified of their freedom. Share the history of Juneteenth with your family by streaming Miss Juneteenth. The film tells the story of a former Juneteenth beauty queen, now a single mom, as she pushes her own teenage daughter to compete in the Miss Juneteenth Pageant. Stream Miss Juneteenth, which is unrated but recommended for children 14 and up, on Amazon Prime with a BET+ add-on