Die Hard is not a Christmas movie.
I say that a lot. I don’t say it as an expert on Die Hard, Bruce Willis or action movies. I say that as an expert on Christmas movies. However, I have seen the first installation of Willis’ action-flick enterprise no less than two or three dozen times, at least.
Many people argue with me about Die Hard’s classification. I don’t know why. I think it’s because if I say that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie then I’m effectively saying, “I don’t like Die Hard.” Which is ludicrous. Die Hard is an exceptional movie. I’d go a bit further and call it a seminal action-adventure film. It should be time capsuled or included in American embassy gift baskets overseas. Especially Germany.
Die Hard is all these things. It is not, however, a Christmas movie.
Because the Christmas season or holiday theme is not an integral component of the plot of the film. Yes, John McClane is going to Los Angeles to spend Christmas with his estranged wife and their lives are in utter turmoil once mercenary terrorists overtake the office building where they are attending a Christmas party.
However, the writers could’ve easily replaced Christmas and the Christmas party with any number of ploys. If McClane is trying to get his life back together, he probably would’ve jumped a flight on Flag Day to be with his family. There are brief references to Christmas and those, too, can be written out.
Let’s apply this to common Christmas movies. In Home Alone, how many holidays require a family of 16 to fly to Paris to be with another side of the family? Although the reunion of Kevin and his family would have been special all things considered, the fact that it took place on Christmas morning gave it that extra appeal. The Wet Bandits are targeting families that are out-of-town for the holidays. Without Christmas, Home Alone doesn’t happen.
I am fair with my judgment, dear reader. There’s one film that is closely associated with the holiday season that under the same Die Hard ruling is not a Christmas movie: It’s A Wonderful Life.
Half the film doesn’t take place during Christmas and otherwise the season is sort of an ancillary setting. The key to It’s A Wonderful Life is actually the return of George Bailey’s war hero brother, Harry. It sets up Uncle Billy losing the money and is the crux to the culmination of the film when everyone donates the money to make the ol’ Bailey Building and Loan Association solvent and Harry’s appearance. Christmas could’ve been replaced with the Fourth of July or Halloween.
Plus, Die Hard was released on July 22, 1988. Sorry, no Christmas in July.
Other Christmas Movie Thoughts:
- I watch it every year, but I highly recommend Trapped in Paradise. The hidden gem is Jon Lovitz with the smarm alarm turned to 11. About 90 percent of Dana Carvey’s dialogue had to have been ad libbed. And it features an ultra-zany Nicholas Cage. Now, Cage is pretty weird anyway, but this film might be his weirdest. He goes full Nic Cage. And you NEVER GO FULL NIC CAGE.
- I think The Santa Clause is the most post-modern movie OF ALL TIME.
- I always watch The Santa Clause and internally fantasize that every one of the kids that plays an elf has ONE opportunity to nail his or her line or Tim Allen goes absolutely berserk Christian Bale-style, cussing and throwing props and sets. Then they just put another kid in to say the one line and if they screw up it happens all over again.
- Cody Burger plays Rocky, Cousin Eddie’s son, in Christmas Vacation. Of all the Cody Burgers of the world, he’s the Cody Burgerest.