By Ken Feil,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Nonstop over-the-top fun for teens and up.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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 teamwork and self-sacrifice for the greater good.
Positive Role Models
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes -- lots of ethnic, cultural, and age diversity. The government, the military, and individuals put their lives on the line to save the Earth. That said, with one exception (a brave mother saving her child and her dog), the female characters serve basically as emotional support for the male leads. And two very stereotypical Jewish men hover around the plot, mostly for comic relief.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A 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?" Unmarried couple shown in bed; teens talk about virginity.
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Language includes "hell," "butt," "s--t and bulls--t," "ass," "son-of-a-bitch," "bastards," "goddamn, "schmuck," "Jesus," "Holy God," "booty."
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Products & Purchases
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."
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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 scene takes place in a strip club with scanty costumes. A man who claims to have been abducted by aliens is teased with comments like "Did they do any sexual things?" There's an unmarried couple in bed; teens talk about virginity.
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Where to Watch
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Based on 18 parent reviews
Silly popcorn fun
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A bit creepy
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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?
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.
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.
Talk to Your Kids 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 the violence in this movie compare to what you've seen in other sci-fi/action movies? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
How do the characters demonstrate teamwork? Why is that an important character strength?
Which characters are role models? Why? Did you notice any stereotypes in the movie?
- In theaters: July 2, 1996
- On DVD or streaming: May 11, 2004
- Cast: Bill Pullman, Jeff Goldblum, Will Smith
- Director: Roland Emmerich
- Inclusion Information: Black actors
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- Run time: 153 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sci-fi destruction and violence
- Last updated: April 19, 2023
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