Independence Day Movie Poster Image

Independence Day

Nonstop over-the-top fun for teens and up.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Release Year: 1996
  • Running Time: 153 minutes

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 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.


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.


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.


Language includes "hell," "butt," "s--t and bulls--t," "ass," "son-of-a-bitch," "bastards," "goddamn, "schmuck," "Jesus," "Holy God," "booty."



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 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.

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.

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 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 2, 1996
DVD/Streaming 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
Character strengths:Teamwork
Run time:153 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sci-fi destruction and violence

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Parent Written bymrsmollyj March 16, 2011

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
Kid, 12 years old June 13, 2010

America's Popcorn Flick

From the first minute of viewing, I implore you to set your brain to power-saving mode; if you initiate any sentient thought, or thought in general, as to the validity of the plot, characters, setting, or any detail of this movie, you will find yourself monumentally disappointed with why and what you spent at the cinema. This is a popcorn flick, pure and simple. It is meant for those that choose to enjoy explosions for the sake of explosions, and fighting for the sake of wiping out an alien race within two days of their arrival, which is completely realistic, if you don't think about it. Have fun!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much consumerism
Kid, 10 years old March 9, 2010
Not to realistic(I've seen to much new movies). Good movie tho.