Happy Birthday ‘Murica: 10 Patriotic Guilty Pleasures That Leave Us Weeping Every Time

Stop trying to fight it, you know you love a good cry—and what’s more, you love a good, classic heart-swelling movie that will leave you weeping. Allow yourself to shed a tear while you watch Sylvester Stallone dominate the ring or when Ben Affleck says goodbye to his love as he fulfills his American duty. Whether you’re skipping town and heading off to the beach or watching fireworks near the wafting smell of BBQ, carve out some time for a good cry with films like Rocky IV, Armageddon, Independence Day, Apollo 13, and more. Plus, check out where you can watch them streaming now.

Sylvester Stallone’s ROCKY IV—“If I can change, and you can change, everybody can change.”

When it was released in 1985, Stallone’s Rocky IV was a pro-American suckerpunch. The fourth Rocky installment follows what happens when the titular star gets pitted against Soviet pro-boxer Ivan Drago. Naturally, there are sweat, tears, and American flags aplenty.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

Michael Bay’s ARMAGEDDON—I don’t want to miss a thing…

Bay’s sci-fi disaster movie with a heart of gold made everyone cry in 1998 with its original song, “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. Starring a massive cast of Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, Liv Tyler, Owen Wilson, and many more, the film follows a group of blue-collar drillers sent by NASA to stop an astroid from colliding with Earth.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

Steven Spielberg’s SAVING PRIVATE RYAN—“I’ll see you on the beach…”

Grossing nearly $500 million dollars in its theatrical run, Spielberg’s epic war film remains one of the most important of genre. Starring Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, and Matt Damon, the harrowing WWII drama follows a group of U.S. soldiers after the Normandy Landings.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

Robert Zemeckis’ FORREST GUMP—“Life was like a box of chocolates…”

Zemeckis’ seminal epic film is heart-swelling classic, once touted by Roger Ebert as “a magical movie.” Starring Tom Hanks and Robin Wright the film covers four decades in its titular character’s life, charting American history alongside the personal. It now resides in the National Film Registry for its cultural significance.

Available to watch on Netflix Instant, iTunes, and Amazon

Ron Howard’s APOLLO 13—“Houston, we have a problem…”

Howard’s historical drama was hailed by Janet Maslin as film that “unfolds with perfect immediacy, drawing viewers into the nail-biting suspense of a spellbinding true story.” Starring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Gary Sinise, and Ed Harris, the film centered around the 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission and displays that quintessential sense of American bravery.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

Terrence Malick’s THE THIN RED LINE—“I was a prisoner. You set me free…”

Referred to by Gene Siskel as “the greatest contemporary war film I’ve seen,” Malick’s 1998 drama came after his 20-year absence from filmmaking. Starring Sean Penn, Jim Caviezel, Nick Nolte, Elias Koteas and other actors who were notoriously cut out, the film is an adaption of James Jones’ autobiographical 1962 novel that centers on the conflict at Guadalcanal during WWII.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

Tony Scott’s TOP GUN—“I feel the need, the need for speed.”

Scott’s 1986 action drama-meets-romance may live on as one of Tom Cruise’s most memorable performances, but it’s also the film that gave us Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away.” Centering on an adorably young Cruise and a perfectly coiffed Kelly McGillis, the film follows a young Navy Pilot and his RIO officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise who are given a shot to train at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons School.

Available to watch on Netflix Instant, iTunes, and Amazon

Roland Emmerich’s THE PATRIOT—

Taking place during the Revolutionary War, Emmerich’s film is where historical war drama and family tragedy collide. Hailed as a “grand epic full of action and emotion,” the film stars Mel Gibson to Heath Ledger tell the story of farmer who leads up the Colonial Militia after his son is murdered by British officer.

Available to watch on iTunes and Amazon

Gus Van Sant’s MILK—“You gotta give em’ hope… you gotta give em’ hope…”

What better time than right now to watch Gus Van Sant’s moving Harvey Milk biopic? The 2008 drama starring Sean Penn follows the iconic gay activist’s struggle to become California’s first openly gay elected official and give a voice to those who were silenced. A.O. Scott called the film a “marvel,” going on to say that it “is a fascinating, multi-layered history lesson. In its scale and visual variety it feels almost like a calmed-down Oliver Stone movie, stripped of hyperbole and Oedipal melodrama…”

Available to watch on Vudu and Amazon

Roland Emmerich’s INDEPENDENCE DAY— “A toast, to the end of the world…”

It wouldn’t be the 4th of July without watching Roland Emmerich’s sci-fi disaster movie. Starring Will Smith, Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum, the iconic film follows the aftermath of a deadly alien invasion and the human population’s fight to retaliate. Grossing over $800 million in its theatrical run, the film now holds the title of 47th highest grossing film of all time.

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