It's the fourth of July aka Independence Day, and though the day means little to us Brits other than a chance to gawp at some pretty fireworks, it's the perfect occasion to strengthen English-American relations.
With a song in our heart and a bald eagle perched on our shoulder, we're celebrating our brash transatlantic cousins by singling out the cheesiest, most jingoistic scenes in American cinema.
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Rocky IV (1985) – Eat canvas, Russia!
Rocky Balboa wasn't just fighting Ivan Drago in 'Rocky IV'. He was fighting PREJUDICE. He was fighting INJUSTICE. He was fighting the entire nation of the USSR. Thankfully, because Sylvester Stallone wrote and directed the film, Rocky kicked all of their asses. The Cold War comparisons are hardly subtle – Stallone, wearing his red, white and blue shorts, faces off against the cold, steely behemoth of Dolph Lundgren – but come the final fight, you're left in no doubt who comes out on top, when Rocky emerges the champ and is immediately draped in a giant American flag. Even his lunkheaded victory speech ("If I can change... YOU can change!") brings the Russian Politburo to their feet. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
Team America: World Police (2004) – America: F*** Yeah!
South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone turned to puppets to parody the kind of Hollywood action movies they hated – ones with flag-waving heroes who'd happily destroy the rest of the world to save 'Murrica. The brilliant theme tune, 'America (F*** Yeah)', is the highlight of the movie, with Parker and Stone singing the virtues of the greatest country in the world: "NFL! (F*** yeah!) Rock 'n' roll! (F*** yeah!) Internet! (F*** yeah!) Slavery! (F*** yeah!)". Tongue-in-cheek though it obviously is, the theme has since been co-opted by many American sports fans, who enjoy the sentiment but maybe don't quite get the joke.
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Independence Day (1996) – "Today we celebrate... our independence day!"
Nothing brings a nation together like an alien invasion – finally, an opposing force we can ALL agree to kill! – and ‘Independence Day’ sees the American people club together to rally against the largest onslaught of CGI special effects known to man. The turning point is President Bill Pullman's chest-thumping speech: "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate... our Independence Day!" It certainly was nice of the aliens to invade on the fourth of July – if they'd have popped round on Thanksgiving the US would have been too stuffed full of turkey to fight back.
Street Fighter: The Movie (1994) – Guile wins!
Of the many reasons 'Street Fighter: The Movie' sucked harder than a black hole, the casting of famous Belgian Jean-Claude Van Damme as all-American soldier William F. Guile was the most confusing. Commander of the AN (that's the UN for thickos) and leader of the fight against Raul Julia's villain M. Bison, Van Damme's Guile gave the most inspiring speech it's possible to give in broken English: "I'm going to get on my boat, I'm going to go upriver and I'm going to kick that sonofabitch Bison's ass so hard that the next Bison wannabe is gonna feel it!" When the two came to blows in the final fight, Guile flexed his muscles just long enough to show off the star-spangled banner he had tattooed on his bicep. K.O.!
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The Patriot (2000) – Capture the flag
Mel Gibson must have liked the taste of FREEEEEDOOOOOOMMMM he sampled in ‘Braveheart’, because he brought some home to his captive American audience in 'The Patriot'. As homely farmer Benjamin Martin, Gibbo leads the fight against the evil Brits in the American Revolution, making sure his country remains the land of the free and the home of the brave. The final battle scene sees Mel pick up Old Glory and start waving it frantically, yelling "HOLD THE LINE!" and "PUSH FORWARD!" free in the knowledge that he definitely won't die because he's Mel Gibson. His fellow soldiers, suitably inspired, push on to victory, without ever questioning the fact that, actually, isn't Mel Gibson Australian?
Battleship (2012) – The USS Missouri sails again
We were on board with ‘Battleship’ when Taylor Kitsch was exchanging bon mots and cannon fire with a giant alien grasshopper space-boat, because we expected nothing less from a blockbuster based on a board game. What we weren't expecting, however, was a scene of such jingoistic, flag-waving, Stars-and-Stripes-saluting nonsense it made Michael Bay look subtle. With all his battleships sunk, Kitsch resorted to recruiting the decorated OAP Navy veterans aboard the USS Missouri – now a museum ship stationed in Pearl Harbour. Thankfully, the ship was in full working order (ahem) and the old fogies were all ship-shape and ready to send E.T. to a watery grave. Why? Because AMERICA, son.
Invasion USA (1985) – Everything Chuck Norris does
There's no point in Hollywood making a ‘Call Of Duty’ movie – they already made it in 1985 and cast Chuck Norris as America. Invasion USA is the kind of nonsensical action movie Chuck Norris would have you believe was entirely possible if Chuck Norris wasn't around to stop it from happening. A group of foreign spies, led by a vaguely Soviet Richard Lynch, invades America's borders and brings, er, Florida to its knees – but Chuck Norris bows for no man. The bearded one-man pain factory repels the foreign invasion with only his fists, stacks of automatic weapons and one-liners like, "I'll hit you with so many rights you'll be begging for a left." Nice try, terrorism. Go back home to Terrorquistan or wherever.
Did we miss your favourite moment of American patriotism on film? Let us know in the comments!