Is Die Hard A Christmas Movie?

Dec 16, 2016

With the holidays fast approaching, many of us will be partaking in a favorite holiday activity: watching Christmas movies. The problem is that most Christmas movies are either overplayed or just aren’t THAT good. So if you’re tired of the same ‘ole same ‘ole, allow me to make a suggestion for your Christmas-viewing pleasure – DIE HARD.

What’s that, you say? Die Hard is NOT a Christmas movie?!  Well if you believe that you’re actually not in the minority. A 2015 CNN Poll shows that 62% of viewers agree with you, but I’m here to tell you why they’re wrong and why you should absolutely add this masterpiece to your regular Christmas Viewing Catalog. So let’s look at the three main ingredients of a classic Christmas film and see how Die Hard adds up.

***Spoiler Alert***

This post definitely contains spoilers.  But seriously, if you haven’t seen Die Hard already, you’ve got issues and you probably shouldn’t be reading this post anyway.

First, let’s break down the plot. Police Officer, John McClane is flying from New York to Los Angeles on Christmas Eve to be reunited with his separated wife (whose name is…wait for it…HOLLY!)  – sounds pretty boilerplate, no?  Well once McClane arrives at Nakatomi Plaza to attend his estranged wife’s company Christmas party, things get a little hairy. As the party is in full swing a group of terrorist thieves break into the building and hold everyone hostage… everyone except McClane who is left alone to come up with clever, yet violent ways to systematically eliminate the thieves and ultimately be with his family.  This is the main point of contention for the Christmas-movie naysayers. To them, I ask…is this plot really THAT much different from another celebrated Christmas classic that came out 2 years later called Home Alone? …think about it.

Next, we should look at (or listen to, rather) the music. For me, music is what makes a Christmas movie a Christmas movie, and Die Hard has that in spades. The movie is littered with Christmas Songs: Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, Christmas in Hollis, Let it Snow – just to name a few. In several instances, the terrorists can be heard humming or whistling classic Christmas tunes whilst doing their various terrorist duties. Throughout almost the entire movie you can hear Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, whether it’s subtly playing in the background or blaring to the audience as things gloriously explode in unison. So yeah, Christmas music – check!

Also, take a look at the setting. As I mentioned before the majority of the film takes place in Nakatomi plaza during a Christmas party on Christmas Eve. It’s pretty obvious the folks in charge of decorating this building spared no expense. The place is littered with decorated trees, Christmas lights, tinsel, you name it – it’s there. Seriously, this place gives the Griswold House a run for its money. The Christmas vibe is generally very evident, but just when all the guns and explosions make you forget you’re watching a Christmas movie, you’ll hear a character whistling Jingle Bells or see a gigantic well-lit tree in the background reminding you that it is still Christmas – Die Hard does this brilliantly. I also mentioned that the film takes place in Los Angeles, which would go a long way to breaking a Cardinal Rule of holiday movies: There MUST be snow. Well folks, good news, at the end of the film there IS snow!!!!   (kind of.)

And finally, let’s take a look at the spirit of the whole thing. Most Christmas movies (think Lifetime/Hallmark movies) have a formula: Protagonist facing an emotional dilemma when some unforeseen force or spirit interjects and “shows them the way”, thus resolving their issue and making things right in the world.  This mostly involves love or family. All of these Holiday film tropes exist in Die Hard. As the story unfolds and John and Holly each have overcome the terrorists they realize their love for each other and end up as a happily reunited family unit, thus rekindling their love.

So there you have it. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg.  I can’t imagine how one could argue against the merits of a Die Hard Christmas, but if you’re still on the fence, I beg of you – grab your favorite blanket, get your corn for popping, pop on Die Hard, and see for yourself.

Merry Christmas and Yippee Ki Yay My Friends!