Making the Grades
Independence Day is everything any 1950's audience would demand from a good flying saucer attack flic. What's amazing is this thing still flies in the sophisticated 1990's. In an era where my PC usually can't connect with a Mac, it's amazing that Captain Hiller (played by Will Smith) can upload a file into an alien mainframe at light speed.
This movie demands you turn off your sense of reason in s few places, including the casting choices. It is hard to see Bill Pullman (Mr. Wrong) as U.S. Presidential material, and picturing the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Will Smith's best known role) in charge of saving the planet is just frightening. Yikes!
That aside, this alien shoot 'em-up has the same key component of others in this genre-- violence. Although the President does try to negotiate, he only receives a reply of "no peace," which the alien utters through someone else's vocal chords. Fortunately, with the exception of this scene, most of the other action is not particularly explicit.
Another thing this movie borrows from its predecessors is the black and white demarcation line between the good and bad guys. Here all the creatures look and smell identical, so it's assumed the aggressive one the President attempts to communicate with represents the entire colony. Because he is such a dark and faceless monster, it is easy to justify retaliation as self-defense.
Other concerns for parents include Hiller's girlfriend, who is a stripper (a sample of her work is the only sexual content in the film), and the cigar the main character uses as a "reward." Insisting he and his partner must smoke it when the battle is over may prove motivational, but it's a sad example for the many young people who are likely to be attracted to this production.
Certainly Independence Day will provide thrills, even if the story is old. However, parents may want to sit close to the remote control if they chose to share this film with their older children.
Home Video Viewing Alternatives
Here are some ideas for home video titles that are related to Independence Day.
Alien pictures abound on the silver screen. Look for everything from the invading kind War of the Worlds (1952 and the remake in 2005) to the cute and friendly E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (or its re-release in 2002).