I’ve covered a lot of different things since I started writing this little column. But we haven’t discussed the fact that two of my all-time favorite movies star rapper, actor, all-around amazing guy, Will Smith. I’ve been saving Independence Day for, well, nearer to Independence Day, and now the time has finally come. The fourth of July is under a week away and we need to discuss this blockbuster from 1996.
I mean, at age 11 I was pretty much the best age for me to be in love with this movie. Firstly, I love aliens, secondly, I love Jeff Goldblum and was about to hardcore fall in love with Will Smith (even though I WAS already a fan of Fresh Prince of Bell-Air I didn’t realize my love until this movie) and also, it opens with the song “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M. which was for a very long time my absolute favorite song. (Just TRY me on the lyrics, I once got 100% on that song on karaoke revolution so…I’m awesome.) I immediately got this movie as a Christmas present on VHS with a sweet holographic post card cover thing and I definitely watched all of the behind the scenes special effects specials I could get my hands on. I was downright FASCINATED by the fact that the exploding buildings were models! It’s madness!
This movie has an awesome cast (I already loved Judd Hirsch from watching SO MANY Taxi re-runs), it has pretty sweet aliens and it has actors that I came to love after (like Mae Whitman from Arrested Development and Adam Baldwin from Firefly!) and so, it has ruined my life. Here’s how:
1. I LOVE Will Smith.
I know I said this already but I’m massively in love with Will Smith. This movie…he’s awesome. Enemy of the State (my other all-time favorite movie starring him) he’s awesome. I love Men in Black. I was like, saddened when I realized I hadn’t made it to see Men in Black 3 (what kind of fan am I?!)
It’s not JUST oh, yes, I enjoyed Fresh Prince of Bell-Air or I really found The Pursuit of Happyness moving (duh, bawling my eyes out). This is also me making my husband watch Hitch because of Will Smith. Or like, me enjoying Hancock because of him. Like, I am blind to how bad something is because of Will Smith’s involvement. (Though, come on, I’m not on board with Wild Wild West, let’s not get crazy).
But I mean, he is one of the best actors at delivering horrible action movie one-liners. Some of his lines in Independence Day would be completely awkward except they’re coming from him so it totally works. I mean, the entire sequence when he’s dragging the alien through the desert and yelling at him is AMAZING.
2. Convinced That Aliens Invasion Is Imminent
I’m just saying, guys, this seems pretty real. I used to work at Who Wants to be a Millionaire and there was a contestant on who worked for NASA named Roger Storm who my friend and I GRILLED about aliens.
I mean, we just were really curious. And he said basically, and I’m not going to pretend I remember this verbatim, but it was essentially that it’s crazy to think we’re alone and that aliens are probably on their way but it will take a long time for them to get here.
So, there you have it. We also asked him, “how big’s a star?” and I pressed him for more details about aliens already having come here. He wouldn’t let slip about Area 51 but I knew he had to keep SOME secrets.
I mean, aliens were really cool when I was growing up so when I went to Roswell, New Mexico this past year I was a kid in a candy store. So many aliens signs everywhere.
Basically, when the aliens get here I’m pretty sure it’ll be okay. As long as we respect the aliens I think we’ll make it.
Then, duh, Jeff Goldblum will get a brilliant idea from a comment about catching a cold. Computer viruses are so hot right now. You know, in the 90’s.
3. Learned All About Expendable Best Friends
My mom has taught me many things. I’m sure she’s not even aware of most of the things I’ve learned from her. But I distinctly remember after my obsession with Independence Day, my mom teaching me about “Expendable Best Friends.” Now, I did some googling and it doesn’t appear to be actually accepted as a movie trope but I know better. Just look at My Girl, Beaches, Bridge to Terabithia (I’m partial to the book though), Scream (and lots of horror movies but it works best here) and you can see people losing their best friends and dealing with that.
But guess what?
BOTH WILL SMITH AND VIVICA A. FOX HAVE EXPENDABLE BEST FRIENDS IN INDEPENDENCE DAY!
I mean, that’s crazy! Poor Harry Connick Jr. and poor Girl From Saved by the Bell: The College Years Who Plays New Fake Jessie (okay her name is Kiersten Warren but I obviously knew her from SBTB). You only die because you’re best friends with important characters!
These are really awesome scenes though, so I think it’s okay. Also, one of the best things Harry Connick Jr. says is “You’re never gonna get to fly a space shuttle if you marry a stripper.” Rough.
4. That. Speech.
I mean, one of my claims to fame is I NEVER confuse Bill Pullman for Bill Paxton. You know why? Because of this movie and because of Titanic. There’s no way for me to get these guys mixed up in my mind.
And you know what? Bill Pullman is first in my heart because of this speech. I LOVE a good movie speech. I also have a really good memory for certain things.
The opening of Aladdin used to be one of my favorite things to recite, the opening song from Beauty & the Beast, all of When Harry Met Sally… and this speech from Independence Day. (Okay, I guess I just have a great memory of lines from movies since I could just keep giving examples of movies but whatever, dudes!)
Here’s the speech:
“Good morning. In less than an hour aircraft from here will join others from around the world. And you will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of mankind. Mankind, that word should have new meaning to all of us today. We cannot be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps it’s fate that today is the fourth of July and you will once again be fighting for our freedom Not from tyranny, oppression or persecution but from annihilation. We’re fighting for our right to live, to exist. And should we win today, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday but as the day when the world declared in one voice “we will not go quietly, into the night! We will not finish, without a fight! We’re going to live on, we’re going to survive!” Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!”
And…I did that from memory. For whatever that’s worth.
5. That Scene In the Kitchen With The Liquor
I understand that I’m just recapping another scene for you but this scene is one of my favorite parts in the movie. David figures everything out about the aliens (because, duh, it’s Jeff Goldblum so he’s a genius) and luckily has a contact in D.C. (his ex-wife, Connie – but duh, he still loves her because we already know he’s still wearing his wedding ring) so he has to go down and be reunited with her and it’s always like, a little tense with them. Duh.
But this scene in particular is one of those things that happens in movies but you’re like DOES THIS REALLY HAPPEN IN REAL LIFE? And the idea of someone doing this in real life kills you but you’re also like “well, you did have a great job opportunity, Connie.” UGH!
Connie: Haven’t you ever wanted to be part of something special?
David: [slams glass down] I WAS part of something special.
“]Connie: If it makes any difference, I never stopped loving you.
Ugh, too much. Also, Connie goes on to play Blair Waldorf’s mom on Gossip Girl so she’s basically my hero.
I just love that even though they KNOW aliens exist they still roll their eyes at Russell talking about his abduction. Like, guys, the aliens are RIGHT here. You know they exist now! Come on!
(All photos my own or screengrabbed by me)