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Every year, some shmuck thinks they are some masterful, high-brow contrarian because they claim that John McTiernan’s 1988 masterpiece “Die Hard,” starring Montclair State University alumnus Bruce Willis as everyman action hero John McClane, is not a Christmas movie. And every year it is our duty as American citizens to put those nerds in their place. “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie, whether or not you like it, buster.
“Wah, what makes it a Christmas movie, Colin?” Do you have eyes, loser? It’s set at Christmas time.
“But it came out in July 1988!” Guess what? Jesus was born in March, and this opinion is being written by an atheist. The rules of Christmas are our own destiny, so why get hung up on deciding something is not Christmas?
Some may say that “Die Hard” is too violent to be a Christmas movie. I think that is ridiculous. If “Passion of the Christ” and “Hop” can both be considered Easter movies, what’s keeping “Die Hard” from being an excellent double feature with “Elf?”
But how do we define a Christmas movie, aside from just being set at Christmas time?
Because really, the definition is pretty loose. Nobody will deny that “It’s A Wonderful Life” is a Christmas movie, but only the last 30 minutes or so actually have anything to do with Christmas. And the ending is the cast singing “Auld Lang Syne,” which is a New Year’s song! Wake up, people!
But you could argue the core of a true Christmas movie is all about the themes. “It’s A Wonderful Life” may not be fully set at Christmas, but the themes of community, doing the right thing and being there for your family make it right at home with the best Christmas movies.
“Die Hard” fills several of the most important thematic niches of Christmas movies, though. It is about community- McClane is not the only hero, he could not save the day without the help of Sergeant Powell. It is about doing the right thing- snuffing out a bunch of snobby European robbers. And most importantly, it is about family- because what’s more Christmas than trying to win back your estranged wife?
An estranged wife whose name is Holly, no less.
“Colin, you are grasping at straws.” Oh yeah? Well you must be under the deranged impression that you are the most important virgin on Christmas Day.
Almost the entire plot is pushed forward by Christmas. McClane is in Los Angeles, because it is Christmas. He is attempting to repair his relationship with his wife, because it is Christmas. The robbery is taking place that day because of the Christmas party making it easier to take hostages. You simply cannot remove the Yuletide spirit from the film.
The film’s soundtrack is populated with holiday hits. “Ode to Joy,” “Winter Wonderland,” “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” and “Christmas in Hollis” are all Christmas classics, and they set the rhythm and tone of the film. That alone should end the debate, but some people are just so stubborn.
But no matter what your (wrong) opinion on “Die Hard” is, it’s important to know that everyone celebrates Christmas in their own way. Some people celebrate with their families. Some people celebrate with their friends. Some people don’t celebrate at all! And every single one of those is valid. The only truly invalid way to spend the season is with a stick up your butt claiming that “Die Hard” isn’t a Christmas movie. Touch grass. Happy Holidays!