Best of America

Best 4th of July Movies the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Whether watching with the kids, the neighbors, or yourself, these movies are great choices around the 4th of July.

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American Graffiti

American GraffitiEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: To revel in '60s-era Americana at its finest. You're watching with: Anyone from teens to grandparents. Critics say: "A brilliant work of popular art, it redefined nostalgia."—Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

Independence Day

Independence DayEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: Something more explosive than the fireworks outside. You're watching with: A whole party of loud people. Critics say: "Splendidly cheesy entertainment."—Carol Buckland, </iframe

Stand By Me

Stand By MeEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: A summer movie that offers something to chew on. You're watching with: Teens who will connect with the adolescent characters, grandparents who will identify with the setting. Critics say: "A small, quiet film that walks tall and resonates long after."—Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

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GloryEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: Something truly, deeply patriotic. You're watching with: Adults or more mature teens. The movie contains violence. Critics say: "A strong and valuable film."—Roger Ebert

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise KingdomEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: A vision of summer camp adults can enjoy. You're watching with: Grownups or savvy older teens: some borderline "R" situations mean youngsters should steer clear. Critics say: "It's a fable about what it feels like to be 12 years old and afflicted, from head to toe, by a romantic crush the size of a planet."—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

My Girl

My GirlEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: A thoughtful coming of age story that's tailored to the season. You're watching with: Just a few people, tweens and up: This drama-comedy will spark discussion but won't fill the room. Critics say: "A modest, likable piece of work, with a handful of charming, low-key performances."—Hal Hinson, Washington Post

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Top Gun

Top GunEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: Explosions, volleyball montages, and jet planes. You're watching with: Sugar-filled children or grownups who've had a few afternoon beers.. Critics say: "The aerial sequences.. are as thrilling... as any ever put on film."—Gene Siskel

Free Willy

Free WillyEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: Nothing more than a fun, summery diversion. You're watching with: Young kids. Critics say: "It's like Lassie with whales."—Scott Weinberg, eFilmCritic,.com

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a MockingbirdEmma Kapotes/, iStock/YinYang
You want: To celebrate the holiday with a classic American story. You're watching with: An engaged audience: The movie will spark discussion, but it may not rival the fireworks outside. Critics say: "Storytelling doesn't get much better than this."—Empire Magazine

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