Independence Day (1996)
Why I’m Glad They Re-shot This Scene: Independence Day really isn’t a good movie by any means, but it totally worked in the mid-’90s and is a lot of fun. The sequel, which opens today in the USA, looks like a computer threw up after a digital pie-eating contest. I just can’t muster up enthusiasm anymore for movies that are entirely shot in a green room. Now matter how many buildings are crumbling on the screen or swarms of attack ships there are, it just feels hollow and without emotion, just like me. But as dreadful as it looks, nothing in it can (probably) be quite as stupid as the alternate ending for the original. If you’ll recall in the theatrical release of the feature motion picture Independence Day, Randy Quaid, playing himself as an alcoholic crop dusting loser, joins Earth’s mightiest fighter pilots in an aerial battle over Area 51. In one of the most tearful moments in cinema, Randy sacrifices himself and flies into the alien mothership’s asshole, blowing it up, and showing Earth’s armies how the alien motherships can be defeated by targeting their assholes, which should have been obvious.
However, originally the astute geniuses who would go on to create 1998’s Godzilla didn’t have Randy join the ranks of the fighter pilots at all, but had him drink Thunderbird until the last minute, when he saved the day by unexpectedly showing up in his crop duster and flying up the mothership’s asshole. He’s basically a drunk ex machina. Now I’m no aeronautical engineer, but I would calculate that the speed and maneuverability of his crop duster is about 1/1,000th of the F/A-18s and alien fighter ships. Basically, Randy just flies up there to commit suicide, even though he has three children and by the time he got up there there’s no way he would have known that all of the other jets were out of missiles. I’m actually amazed that Devlin and Emmerich changed it, since it was so dumb it seemed par for their awful course.