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I haven't seen it since I walked out of the theater disgusted in 1996, but I've recently been wondering if the movie Independence Day was intended to be a comedy.

I was 19 then, and I went to see Independence Day expecting a serious sci-fi-action movie. Perhaps I had been led on by the super-cool previews that showed the aliens blowing up key Earth landmarks. In any case, my fan-boy soul was pretty much crushed by the movie's sheer ridiculousness, including:

  • when Will Smith punched an alien and then got excited about it
  • how the plot hinged on a human computer being able to plug right in to the alien mainframe and upload "jollyroger.exe"
  • the shameless product placement surrounding that human computer
  • everything involving characters played by Brent Spiner and Randy Quaid

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I don't remember too many details, but I do remember thoroughly despising the movie, cursing its makers, and casting a dismissive eye on the many people who gushed about how cool it was.

But did I miss something? Was Independence Day intended to be a comedy -- a spoof of the sci-fi-action genre? Maybe the moments that made me cringe were meant to make me laugh? Anything out there on this?

share|improve this question
+1 good question. I've never thought about it before, but now that you mention it. It's hard to classify it as either a drama or comedy. I'd say it was both. – ThinkingMedia Feb 2 '13 at 4:47
Well, I would rather say it was intended for the average movie viewer that values entertainment higher than an intelligent plot. So the obvious plot-deficiencies were not supposed to be noticed by the average viewer and the comedic elements were supposed to, well, entertain, loosening the drama with some light moments. While I really believe you mean this question serious (in contrast to a ranty blog post), it cannot be that hard to understand it as an entertaining SciFi-action movie with comedic elements, intended for the mass market. It wasn't a spoof, it was just too dumb for you. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 2 '13 at 9:55
My initial reaction was very skeptical to say the least, but after re-reading your question and @coleopterist's answer below, I really like it. Not as subjective as it initially appeared to me. Required a thoughtful and creative answer, which coleopterist accomplished. +1s all around! – stevvve Feb 2 '13 at 18:04
One of the funniest moments was when the president was joking about cheating on his wife. Well, if that is not a parody of real life... – LatinSuD Nov 26 '14 at 22:45
up vote 15 down vote accepted

I think that the movie was expressly designed to be entertaining and break records set by Jurassic Park a couple of years earlier. You might also remember the impressive marketing campaign and hype that preceded the release of the film. Considering that the target audience was everybody, things had to be dumbed down to be accessible to everybody.

In 1996, Will Smith hadn't hit the big leagues yet and was coming off the success of Bad Boys, a comedy where he plays "cool and funny". His role in ID4 isn't much different.

So, no. I don't think ID4 is a spoof. It's simply a commercial sci/fi film loaded with special effects and cheesy dialogue, designed to appeal to a larger audience. Much the same as MiB would be a year or so later.

share|improve this answer
I mostly agree - except for the comment about MiB. I am reasonably certain that ID4 was intended as light-hearted action, but MiB is predominantly a comedy spoof. – Donald.McLean Feb 2 '13 at 6:25
Yep, this is a good answer. It's also worth pointing out that the biggest gripe people have about the film (the compatibility of the computers) was actually addressed in a deleted scene which claims that our human computer systems were derived from the alien technology, thus making it possible to upload the virus. It's a stretch, but the film isn't a documentary. ;) – Nobby Feb 2 '13 at 13:44
Really like this answer! – stevvve Feb 2 '13 at 18:05

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