Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Watching Smith & Goldblum Fly 90-Billion Light Years To Whoop ET's Ass (Or How I Spent My Fourth of July)

"Honey, why is our daughter standing on the furniture?"

In the words of President Whitmore / Bill Pullman, "The 4th of July will no longer be known as an American holiday." This statement became very true to me one Thanksgiving back in 1996 (at my young age my parents had to pre-view the movie before I could watch it on VHS - wow!  VHS!) From the moment I saw Bill Pullman deliver his speech, I was hooked on a new tradition. Forget about the yearly family and friends softball game followed by a barbeque. Forget about red-white-and-blue desserts and apparel. With an immediate screech of tires, those traditions took a backseat to my new annual viewing. And fireworks can no longer be watched without saying, "Didn't I promise you fireworks?"

As alluded to above, my 4th of July tradition also includes standing on furniture - usually a couch. In the absense of a couch it could be a chair. I have to stand on the object of choice and recite President Whitmore's speech with him. It doesn't have the same effect if you're not elevated. I really don't know why my dad was so surprised - it happens every year. There's also a guy who salutes the President (it's the third cut following the speech) - After he and I have saluted Whitmore, then I can sit down.

And I won't even begin to claim this tradition as my own.
                  In fact, @nickwoosttweets is here to give us his take on the holiday:

Nick: For most of America the Fourth of July means barbeques, pools, The Twilight Zone, and fireworks. For me July 4th marks another special event. Once a year I get to take Roland Emmerich's "Independence Day" off of its shelf, dust off the 365 days worth of caked on dust, and watch Will and Jeff (yeah, we're on a first name basis) save Earth from those nefarious alien invaders. The 4th begins with a day long quote-off  that culminates with a showing of the film that night. This began 16 years ago between my family and I with whatever "big" quotes I could remember.

Also, you bring up a good point there with the dust - it's important to note that both of us refuse to watch the movie on any day besides July 4th. It's a really strict commandment of the tradition. Except this year you decided to change the rules just a bit - You watched the July 2 portion on July 2 and so forth. How did that work out for you?

It worked as a nice countdown but I had to rewatch the whole thing on the 4th. It felt a bit like spoiling my dinner.

To expand the tradition, Nick and I just did a test lauch of the "ID4 Quote Game" (we'll have a better name for it in the future). Basically, the game spans over 3 days, starting on July 2. On each day, you're only allowed to quote material from that corresponding day in the movie.

The game really only has one rule - please, please do not say, "Welcome to Earth!" real fans can find better quotes than the overused one-liner (I have very few pet peeves, but this is one of them).

"Welcome to Earth" ranks among "I'm King of the World!" and "Luke, I am your father." They are the cubic zirconia of movie quote gems.

The whole thing was a little trickier than I had originally imagined. I'm ashamed to admit that I couldn't actually remember where each of the days ended. I actually kicked off Day One with a misappropriated quote (gasp!). But Nick swooped back in on Day Two with a strong restart.

"All you need is love. John Lennon, smart man, shot in the back very sad" was my proudest moment this year.

We'll have to make up a point system for next year when someone jacks that quote from you.

But it's about more than just quoting my favorite lines, the whole thing transcends enjoying a movie. It's about memories as well. Remembering how scared I was the first time Will Smith pops the hatch on the crashed fighter and we see an alien the first time. The first year I got through The Speech from memory and how much better it felt when I recited it standing on the couch (which has grown more and more awkward as I have grown older and taller). Finding a kindred spirit in Susan as we independently broke into The Speech at a barbeque and closed simultaneously with a "Today we celebrate our Independence Day!" for the ages.

I don't know it we'd ever be able to watch it together - the world might implode. And I don't think my dad could handle two people standing on the couch.

I'm still waiting for a Goldblumian solution to that problem.

This was actually my niece's first year watching the movie and she asked me, "Which President is that?"

If someone asked me that with genuine curiousity, I would tell them, "The greatest one we've never had."

In the words of Captian Hiller, "Amen, Reverend."

Each year brings a new memory and a new story to tell, building what has become one of my favorite yearly traditions for the fact that I have had a hand in shaping it from the start. That's a special feeling, seeing people join you in enjoying a small thing that means so much. For 16 years Captain Steven Hiller has promised us fireworks before heading out to El Toro, and for 16 years he has delivered. So for that I say 'thanks for the memories and next year have your barbeque on July 3rd' (he ignores me every year).

Thanks for stopping by Nick! And all you fans out there please join us next year for the 2nd Annual to-be-named quote game which we'll be moving over to Twitter.

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