One excellent year for movies was 1996. We’re talking The Birdcage, Jerry Maguire, The First Wives Club (don’t hate), Scream, Broken Arrow (don’t hate), The Cable Guy, Courage Under Fire (underrated), Happy Gilmore, Mars Attacks!, Matilda, and, of course, Independence Day.
Independence Day has everything: the impending apocalypse brought about by the arrival of super aliens; Bill Pullman playing the raspy guy-next door who became the President of the United States of America; the lovable braggadocio of Will Smith, who famously welcomes a slimy alien with a punch to the grill; Randy Quaid playing Randy Quaid; Harvey Fierstein playing Harvey Fierstein; Data from Star Trek who reappears in this box office smash as a frazzled, gentle scientist who hasn’t quite shaken off all that acid he dropped as a youngster; and of course, the hilarious and very Jewish father-son duo of Julius and David Levinson (Judd Hirsch and Jeff Goldblum).
Both actors are back in a sequel of the film, the not-so-originally named Independence Day: Resurgence, set for release next summer.
The recently released trailer makes it seem like the new movie will be taking itself too seriously, which is a shame. But the re-casting of Goldblum and Hirsch means that the bulk of the film’s humor will presumably come from them, which is a good thing. Exhibit A: In Independence Day, a yarmulke-clad Hirsch leads a prayer circle, welcoming all to enter, including a bad guy who’s has become scared and is searching for comfort. Hirsch begins to pray, reciting the Shma Koleinu, a Yom Kippur prayer.
“I’m not Jewish,” a man informs Hirsch. He replies, “Nobody’s perfect,” then continues to pray.
Jonathan Zalman is a writer and teacher based in Brooklyn.