Independence Day

  • Review Date: August 9, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1996

Common Sense Media says

Nonstop over-the-top fun for teens and up.
  • Review Date: August 9, 2005
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1996

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

It's clearly stated that the people of earth, divided into nations, religions, etc., have the ability to put away their differences and unite for their common interests. In this case, all the leaders of the world come together to fight for the right of the planet to exist.  Also promotes self-sacrifice for the greater good.

Positive role models

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes -- lots of ethnic and cultural diversity. The government, the military, and individuals put their lives on the line to save the Earth. With one exception (a brave mother saving her child and her dog), the female characters serve basically as emotional support for the male leads. Two very stereotypical Jewish men hover around the plot, mostly for comic relief.

Violence

Buildings, major landmarks, and citizens are destroyed by fireballs; cars careen through the air; airplanes explode; spacecraft, both large and small, wreak jet-ray havoc on the hapless Earth. Then, the aliens appear: tentacled, huge, slimy, and powerful. Scientists perform an autopsy on one that morphs into an even more grotesque creature. There are multiple aerial firefights, one-on-one serpent attacks, and an alien-speaking-through-a-human moment that's truly spooky.

Sex

In one of the many subplots, stripper passes some dancers onstage then finds some strippers backstage in very little clothing. A man who claims to have been abducted by aliens is teased with comments like "Did they do any sexual things?"

Language

Some mild expletives and insults throughout: "hell," "butt," "s--t and bulls--t," "ass," "son-of-a-bitch," "bastards," "goddamn, "schmuck," "Jesus," "Holy God," "booty."

 

Consumerism

Coors, Arrowhead water, Minute Maid, Wells Fargo bank, IMB, Reebok, HBO, and heavy on the Coca-Cola.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

One character, a father of young kids, is a slurring, self-pitying drunk through most of the film, constantly swigging from a bottle. Cigars are passed out and smoked as a means of celebrating victory over the attackers, though one character does say, "Smoking is not healthy."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Independence Day is an action-packed science-fiction film filled with scenes of the fiery destruction of entire cities and the people who live in them, along with smaller scale personal fatalities and some pretty grisly aliens. The filmmakers take pains to introduce some very likeable characters, only to explode them soon afterward. This movie was the gold standard of sci-fi effects and air battles when it was released in 1996, and older kids and teens that have a firm understanding of the difference between fantasy and reality will enjoy the ride. There's some swearing (i.e. "hell," "schmuck," "ass," "s--t," "bastard," "goddamn"), and one short scene takes place in a strip club with scanty costumes.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

INDEPENDENCE DAY follows the plotline of several previous Hollywood sci-fi disaster movies. The story features a wide variety of social types reacting to the arrival of aliens and the aliens' eventual attack on the planet Earth, which include: The President (Bill Pullman) and Press Secretary (Margaret Colin) in D.C.; the First Lady (Mary McDonnell) on a publicity junket; a marine pilot (Will Smith) and his stripper girlfriend (Vivica A. Fox) in Los Angeles; a cable technician (Jeff Goldblum), his father (Judd Hirsch) and boss (Harvey Fierstein) in New York City; and an alcoholic crop duster (Randy Quaid) and his family in rural California. After the initial spectacular deluge, in which the alien attackers lay waste to L.A. and New York City, a majority of this diverse crew collaborates to survive and eventually vanquish the invaders.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Independence Day harks back to the classic alien-invasion movies of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as the disaster movies of the 1970s. These sources provide campy material for the film to quote from as well as advanced special-effects technology. References to The War of the Worlds (1953), The Day the Earth Stood Still, and imagery from Earthquake and The Towering Inferno provide chuckles to knowing audiences. Overblown performances by Smith, Brent Spiner (as an addled scientist from Area 54), Hirsch, and Fierstein will no doubt tease a few guffaws, as well.

This is the film that sky-rocketed Smith to blockbuster action-hero status. It's clever, intensely thrilling, and if you can recognize the stock stereotypes and movie plots, very funny.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about stereotypes associated with action-disaster movies, as well as how race, class, and gender are represented in Independence Day.

  • How does this film compare with other alien-invasion films?

  • Do you like the mix of comedy and scariness?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 2, 1996
DVD release date:May 11, 2004
Cast:Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith
Director:Roland Emmerich
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Science Fiction
Topics:Space and aliens
Run time:153 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sci-fi destruction and violence

This review of Independence Day was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old Written bytheshadowcom March 9, 2010
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Not to realistic(I've seen to much new movies). Good movie tho.

Kid, 12 years old Written byKinbJune June 13, 2010
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

We Still Haven't Learned our Lesson

This was a good movie in my opinion. It was saying that you shouldn't judge aliens just because they're aliens and their 93,000,000,000,000 mile trip to Earth. Boy was that message wrong because the aliens just start attacking, but in a way, it kind've shows the way we humans act. For example, the aliens said that they were a traveling race, probably because they left their planet uninhabitable, which is what we're doing right this minute. It also means that we always judge a book by its cover most of the time.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bymrsmollyj March 16, 2011
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Action hero type of movie. I think my kid can handle it.

I watched this movie and wondered if my 9 year old could see it. It's very human motivating. There are some obvious curse words but ones I think my 9 year old understands is "adult language". My true concern is that it's scary. Lots of people die but off screen like in an okay action movie. But it is human motivating. We beat the bad guys by uniting the world and joining together.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models

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