Steve is more than annoyed with that smell.
- The film gets a lot funnier when you realize all the aliens had to do to win, was just land.
- The film then gets even funnier when you realize that the advanced aliens, with their gigantic city destroyers, the first one was ultimately taken down by a fighter jet version of the "finger in the gun" gag from classic cartoons.
- The first line of the film, courtesy of the SETI director being awoken at Godknowswhat o'clock in the morning.
"If this isn't an insanely beautiful woman, I'm hanging up."
- The first line of the subtitles, which is an actual recording by Neil Armstrong.
"For those, uh, who haven't read the plaque, we'll read the plaque."
- When David goes to get him and his father out of NYC and to White House, Julius opens his front door while brandishing a shotgun. With David unfazed by this.
Julius: The television said they've started with the looting already... vultures.
David: You still have the Plymouth?
Julius: You wanna borrow the car? David, you don't have a licence.
David: You're driving.
Julius: Yeah, I'm driv-! Wait, I'm driving?!
- Julius snarks all the way to the White House:
Julius: Tell me, you're so smart: why did you go to MIT to become a cable repairman? They have people who can handle this, David. If they want HBO they'll call you.
- Followed not too long after by David using his laptop and a radio antenna to triangulate his ex-wife's location after calling her unlisted cell phone.
Julius: You can do that?!
- Nearly all their interaction, particularly their introduction as they're playing chess.
Julius: So what you waiting for? Hmm? My social security will expire, and you'll still be sitting there.
David: Dad, you have any idea how long it takes for those cups to decompose?
Julius: You don't move soon, I'm gonna start to decompose.
- And later when Julius tries to dispute David's checkmate.
- Julius' snark when they finally arrive at the White House.
"So, you wanna ring the bell, or should I?"
- During the evacuation from the White House, Julius is amused that their seat on Marine One has its own phone.
- Marty's reaction when David tells that the aliens are planning to attack:
- During the argument between Capt. Hiller and Jasmine over his leave being canceled, he makes a frustrated comment wondering why she's acting like this, which prompts an immediate and livid response:
"WHY?" [marches over to window, snaps curtains back with force and points outside] "THAT'S why!"
[camera cuts to shot of window, three-quarters of which is engulfed by one of the scout crafts that's currently idling over the Los Angles skyline. Helicopter blades and sirens can be heard wailing in the foreground.]
- Before that, the extended Failed a Spot Check gag where Hiller manages not to see the giant hovering spaceship during his entire morning routine because he doesn't look up. Even the panicked neighbors loading up their car barely warrants observation.
- When Will Smith takes the day off, he takes the day off.
- This exchange:
Whitmore: I am sleeping next to a beautiful, young brunette...
Marilyn: [dismayed] You didn't let her stay up late watching TV, did you?
Whitmore: Of course not.
After the President gives the phone to their daughter...
Whitmore: [muttering] Traitor...
- Two of Will Smith's many one-liners:
Hiller: No, sir. Just a little anxious to get up there and whoop E.T.'s ass, that's all.
Hiller: Oh no, you did NOT shoot that green shit at me!
- Doubling as a Crowning Moment of Awesome, Smith (as Steve Hiller) opens the hatch to the cockpit of the alien ship he'd brought down by parachute-blindfold. The alien pilot lunges out, shrieking horribly...and he just punches it out with a growled "Welcome to Earth!"
- This is followed by Hiller lighting up a cigar shortly after and proclaiming:
- And after that, Hiller dragging that same alien through the desert (director Roland Emmerich said Will Smith was improvising so well he could've made a whole movie out of that scene):
Hiller: You know, this was supposed to be my weekend off. But nooooooo. Instead, you got me out here dragging your heavy ass through the burning desert, with your dreadlocks sticking out the back of my parachute. And you gotta come down here with an attitude, acting all big and bad. (pauses, looks around) AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL?!
(screams, kicks the alien repeatedly.)
Hiller: I COULDA BEEN AT A BARBECUE!
(grabs his parachute and resumes dragging)
Hiller: But I'm not mad. It's all right. That is all right.
- Made even funnier because his scream of "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SMELL?!" was unscripted. The scene was shot in the salt flats of Utah, where a few trillion brine shrimp were decomposing in the summer heat when they were on location... Something that Will Smith clearly noticed and was not told about beforehand.
- News anchor in Los Angeles: "Once again, the L.A.P.D. is asking Los Angelenos not to fire their guns at the visitor spacecraft. You may inadvertently trigger an interstellar war." All in the same deadpan voice that they would use for politics and the weather.
- Quite a few of the background news segments created for the film, which can be viewed on the anniversary bluray, are funny. For instance, one segment has a scientist trying to show how he thinks the spaceship works, and in the next segment says that a Japanese company is going to market a line of visitor toys based on his extremely crude model.
- From a random woman during the news broadcast: "God, I hope they bring back Elvis!"
- "You punched the President?"
- Julius inviting Nimziki to join his Torah reading:
Nimziki: I'm not Jewish.
Julius: Eh, nobody's perfect.
- Hiller "persuading" soldiers to allow him access to Area 51.
Hiller: Okay. Come here. You want to see my clearance?
(pulls back tarp to reveal the unconscious alien; soldiers recoil in alarm)
Hiller: Maybe I should just leave this here with you?
- Jimmy sees the ring Steve is planning to propose with on the floor, and picks it up while on one knee to give back to him. Then another pilot walks in. Said pilot immediately backs off. Hey, don't ask, don't tell...
- Also, the ring has two little dolphins circling the diamond ("Jasmine has a thing for dolphins."). Think about it: Hiller is a Marine pilot, the Marine Corps is a part of the Navy, and the dolphin is the insignia of a fully-qualified submarine crewman. Pilots and bubbleheads do not get along.
- Steve convinces a Giant Mook to let him borrow a helicopter to pick up Jasmine, and advises him to say, "Just tell them I hit you." The big guy's dubious expression is priceless.
- Jasmine and the first lady talking about her dancing:
First Lady: So, what do you do for a living?
Jasmine: I'm a dancer.
First Lady: Ballet?
Jasmine: No. Exotic.
First Lady: Oh... sorry.
- Followed by this exchange:
First Lady: I didn't think you recognized me.
Jasmine: Well, I didn't want to say nothin'... and I voted for the other guy.
- For his short time in the movie, Jimmy (played by Harry Connick Jr) was absolutely hysterical.
- Julius walks in on a drunk David trashing a lab.
Julius: David, what the hell are you doing?
David: Making a mess!
Julius: Yeah, this I can see.
- Steve giving David his cigar.
Steve: This is our victory dance. Not until the fat lady sings.
David: Oh. Yes. Okay.
Steve: (beat) This is important.
David: Fat lady. I gotcha.
- Steve tries flying an alien fighter... which immediately flies backward into a wall. The following exchange takes place:
Steve: Heh heh. Oops.
David: "Oops"? What d'you mean?
Steve: (flips the direction control around) Some jerk had this backwards. What do you say we try that again?
David: Yes yes yes. Yes, without the "oops". (points forward) Is... thata way.
- The fighter then leaves the base through the tunnel exit at high speed with an excited Steve at the controls.
Steve: Whooooo! Man, I have got to get me one of these!
- Also David, who was established to not be a good flier, having a "What the hell was I thinking?!" reaction through the trip out of the atmosphere, especially when Steve didn't answer his question (see below).
David: Little shaky. Is it gonna do this the whole way?
Steve: Just make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their upright and locked positions.
David: Yeah. Is it?
- Which becomes a Brick Joke a few minutes later when the mothership takes remote control of the fighter:
David: I was counting on this. They're pulling us in.
Steve: When the hell were you gonna tell me?
David: (beat) Oops.
Steve: We have got to work on our communication.
- The absolutely amazing Oh, Crap! moment when the alien dock controller opens the ship's windows and David exclaims, "Oh shit. Um... hide!" (ducks)
- David and Steve both popping up and smarmily greeting the aliens once the virus has uploaded:
"Hey! Alright, how you guys doin'? Take a look at the Earthlings! Good-bye!"
Steve: PEACE! (cue nuke launch)
Steve: I ain't heard no fat lady!
David: Forget the fat lady! You're obsessed with the fat lady! Drive us outta here!
- The entire sequence of David and Steve leaving the mother ship before it explodes. Absolutely amazing chemistry, and not just a few ShoutOuts:
David: We're hit! We took a hit!
Steve: We're not hit! We're not hit! Stop side-seat driving!
David: No! No! Tunnel! Tunnel! Exit! Exit! LEFT!
Steve: Where the hell do you think I'm going?!
David: Uh, uh, OK. We're, we're, uh...
David: No, they're closing it on us!
Steve: Shut up, shut up, shut up!
Steve: (piloting the ship through just as the doors close) AAAAAAAAHHH! ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!
David: (Elvis impression) Thank you, thank you very much. Oh, I love you, man.
- The president's bewildered expression when he finds out Area 51 is real. What makes it better is that David's father, Julius, was the one to bring it up simply on accident when he accuses the presidential staff that they should've known this was coming.
President: Take my word for it, there is no Area 51. There is no recovered space ship.
Nimziki: Ah, Mr. President. That's not... entirely accurate.
David: What? Which part?
- And later when they're being given a tour of the laboratories.
Whitmore: I don't understand. Where does all this come from? How do you get funding for something like this?
Julius: You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat, do you?
(Whitmore, Grey, and Nimziki turn and give him a "How much do you know?" look)
- This is actually what the military does: ridiculously pad their expenses so that funds can be quietly transferred to secret projects.
- The president finishes his televised address to the nation concerning the aliens' arrival by advising anyone who wishes to leave one of the affected cities to do so in an orderly fashion. The scene then immediately cuts to a street in New York packed full of people in full blown panic mode as they are frantically trying to flee the city.
- When David asks Mitchell to shoot the coke can off the spaceship. It goes about as well as you'd expect with the shield still up. However what makes it even funnier is that during most of the parts where everybody ducks from the ricochet, if you listen carefully, you can hear Steve calling David out.
- When the pilots have been recruited for the final battle, they are told to introduce themselves. After Russell makes his claim to having been abducted by aliens in 1986, Mitchell and a colleague look at each other as if to say, "Where did we get him from?"
- The original ending of Independence Day, which sees Russell, having been rejected from the final fight due to his alcoholism, stealing a nuclear missile, strapping it onto his biplane and flying that into the spaceship to destroy it. This ending was scrapped as Dean Devlin said that a biplane flying amongst - and keeping pace with - F/A-18s was "just not believable".
- It gets even funnier when you consider that, if attempted in real life, the biplane would have stalled and fallen when trying to reach the ship's cannon, leading to one of the most awkward failed sacrifices ever.
- Meta Example: Bill Pullman pokes fun at his famous speech.
- Second Meta Example: Pres. Bill Clinton watching the White House blow up... in the White House movie theater.
- Also going meta, 40 Things I Learned From Independence Day.
- In the special edition, after Whitmore gives his view about compromise in his inability to accomplish anything, Connie says that he's been named by the Orange County Dispatch as "one of the ten sexiest men of the year."
"Well, that's accomplishing something."
- Russell gets into an F-18 for the first time, having last sat in a fighter jet during Vietnam. He presses a switch:
Russell: Oh, CRAP! Which one...which one...
(cancels the launch)
- In the cheering that follows Whitmore's Rousing Speech, we cut to one of the volunteer pilots giving the most hilariously awkward, yet earnest salutes in history.
- One of Jasmine's survivors says that he only lived because he took the subway that day. "Thank God for the Metro Rail."
- Nimziki's reaction to the nuke detonation over Houston.
(jumping up from chair) "Oh YEAH! It's a hit!"
- Especially when you stop and think: was he really worried that a B2 firing a nuclear weapon at a 15-mile-wide spaceship...might miss?
- One of the mechanics asking if the aliens did any sexual things to Russell. His delivery is bound to make you laugh every time.
- In the special edition, Dr. Okun gives David a tour of the alien attacker before being called away to treat the prisoner. He tells David not to touch anything, causing him to get annoyed at being told not to touch things. David then puts his hand all over the main console, only to find it's covered in some sort of grime.
- When David is making a mess in the spaceship hangar, one of the bins he knocks over is labeled "Art Dept." Yes, really.◊
- In the special edition, David and Julius have a run-in with oncoming traffic as they approach DC. After Julius successfully evades the desperate people trying to get out of the city, David remarks "Nice driving, Pops."
- After his father gives him the idea for the virus, David runs over and tells one of the scientists to call everyone down. The scientist pretends to work for about five seconds before he gives a very groggy "...what?"