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The quintessential American movie?

Trey ParkerSingin' in the Rain (movie)12 Angry Men (movie)Thomas Ian NicholasAlbert HallMatt Stone

When trying to identify the quintessential American movie, you could look at a timeless classic—and a celebration of all-American love, cinema, song and dance—like "Singin' in the Rain."Or you could go to something grittier like "12 Angry Men,"which encapsulates the American judicial system and its vulnerability to group-think as well as the importance of standing up for your beliefs against a vocal, close-minded majority.

Sorry, "Independence Day." Despite your title, alien invasion doesn't really fit here.

Maybe it's worth thinking about something less obvious. Like "Rookie of the Year." Go with me on this:

>> The story, about 12-year-old Henry Rowengartner (Thomas Ian Nicholas) who slips on a ball and breaks his arm in a way that gives him a 100-mph fastball, revolves around an accident. Is there a more legendary accident than the discovery of America?

>> A pre-teen kid becoming a professional baseball player screams of improbability. About as improbable as an Austrian bodybuilder and big-screen terminator becoming the governor of California. Who would believe that?

>> For the entire movie, Rowengartner laments having his name mispronounced by his manager (Albert Hall), who eventually comes around and gets it right after Henry's demonstrated his value to the organization. The kid's a native Chicagoan, but surely plenty of folks new to America have similarly had to struggle with mispronounced names and a difficult path to acceptance.

>> Self-explanatory patriotism: Cubs colors are red, white and blue. The team also simultaneously exists as the perennial lovable underdog and the mainstream social opportunity that lingers toward the top of most frequently sold-out games. That's America for you: Always at the top of the food chain yet, in several areas, working to climb to meet the achievements of its competitors with less cache.

Whatever your July 4 movie pick—anyone who dares leave the house may melt the second their feet hit the ground—hope it's a good one, and a great Independence Day. In the words of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, "America—[Bleep] Yeah." And in the words of another legend of a much different sort who also rooted for victory by the home team: Let's get some runs.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com. @mattpais

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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