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I’ve seen this movie many times, and there’s something about the way it’s characters act and how they follow principle no matter how stupid or counter-intuitive it seems. Of course, this kind of thing can be seen in many American movies, but I will focus on ID because it’s the one I know the best.

There are a few concepts that run through in these types of movies. First is love, and then there’s courage, honor and integrity and lastly foresight/insight that nobody else has. First up we have the MIT educated smart environmentalist who never quite made it, played by Jeff Goldblum, who is still in love with his ex-wife after 3 years, and wears their wedding ring. Typically, these types of characters are faced with negativity, this time from his father, who tells Jeff he should move on already. But in due American style, he doesn’t drop his hope that maybe one day he will have her back, and of course he never had another relationship because this proves his love is for her only. We later find out his ex-wife is using his last name in the phone book, and of course they end up together in the end.

There are also several characters that show unusual courage in the movie. The president himself stays behind in the White House, even though there’s a big alien spaceship hovering over them and they could end up with a non-working government. A fighter pilot who has been a disappointment to his kids for a long time ends up saving the world, and of course several people put their own lives at risk to save someone else fearlessly because it’s the “right thing to do.”
Courage and integrity is a big thing in America, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it is also a bit naive because we are always expecting the hero to sacrifice himself for us. His integrity is more important than his life.

The two heroes together

Also, there’s the smart guy who ends up solving what nobody else could solve, and we root for him because we trust him and respect him.
Usually these characters never make mistakes, ever. They usually end up in an argument over how outrageous it is or how it’s not going to work, but then it does work and the silent hero can smile.

These characters are too perfect. Too inhuman. They always put their own lives secondary to everything else. They fearlessly go into deep enemy territory because it’s “the right thing to do” and us, the audience, are left with a distant hope that we ourselves can one day live up to this ideal.
I dunno about you but I want to see a movie with some more flawed characters. I think Children Of Men did it quite good. The main character didn’t have hero qualities of epic proportions because it’s unrealistic. But I still admire this attitude.