Is “Die Hard” a Christmas movie?

Throughout my life, three questions have continuously haunted me:

  1. Why does round pizza come in a square box?
  2. If coconut oil comes from coconuts, where does baby oil come from?
  3. Is it true cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?

But as I’ve gotten older, a fourth question has taken hold of not only me, but the vast networks of the interwebs: Is the 1998 Bruce Willis action movie, “Die Hard,” a Christmas movie?

If your eyes haven’t been graced by this late 80’s masterpiece, let me break it down for you. Bruce Willis plays police officer John McClane, a soft spoken, hard-headed, one-liner machine. McClane flies into Los Angeles from New York City for Christmas, attempting to try and reconnect with his wife Holly (Christmas reference?), who has left him to take a job at an international company, the Nakatomi Corporation. McClane arrives on the 30th floor of Nakatomi Plaza just in time for their Christmas party, but before festivities can really kick off, disaster strikes.

Before he was Professor Snape from “Harry Potter,” the late Alan Rickman was Hans Gruber, a German terrorist after hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds stored in the Nakatomi vault. Gruber and his goons bust into the Christmas party, taking hostages and demanding access into the vault. However, John McClane eludes capture and launches into a guerrilla campaign inside the building against the terrorists. It’s pure 1980’s action: guns with infinite ammo, cheesy dialogue and macho muscle men. 

So, at this point you must be thinking, pray tell Kyle Brown, how is this possibly a Christmas movie?

Let’s first look at what society views a Christmas movie should be. When I think of Christmas movies, I think about movies I watched as a kid, such as, “Christmas Story,” “The Polar Express,” “Elf” or “Home Alone.” All these movies share common themes like, people gathering for Christmas, piles of snow outside, a house with Christmas lights stretched across the roof and, of course, Christmas music. But they share a more common theme: they are kids’ movies. So, this begs the question, does a Christmas movie have to be made for kids to make it a Christmas movie?

The answer is definitely no. Because at some point, these kids grow up and Christmas still stays the same. Adults need Christmas movies, too! The best example I can think of is “Christmas Vacation,” another 1980’s classic starring Chevy Chase. It has all the tropes of a Christmas movie mentioned above, but it isn’t exactly made for kids. The main character struggles with money, dealing with in-laws and fighting with neighbors, all basic struggles an adult person can find themselves working through that kids can’t. So, I would like to propose another question: does a Christmas movie have to have the word “Christmas” or some type of Christmas theme in the title to make it a Christmas movie?

Enter “Die Hard.” Not exactly a Christmas friendly title. But going by our Christmas tropes, “Die Hard” is no doubt a Christmas movie. Not only does it take place during Christmas time, it features a Christmas party, Christmas music, and the main plot plays heavily on what I think is the main theme of Christmas itself: friends and family. John McClane is in Los Angeles to desperately try and get his family back together, which drives the main plot of the film. Along the way, he makes new friends that help him try and accomplish his goal. Sure, it’s an action-packed, testosterone-filled extravaganza, but it’s an action-packed, testosterone-filled Christmas extravaganza. They even use papers falling from the sky at the end of the movie to represent snow, because of course it doesn’t snow heavily in Los Angeles—at least not since the 1960’s—and I appreciate a good symbolic effort. 

A Christmas movie for kids? Depends on your parenting style. But a Christmas movie for adults? Absolutely. 

3/5 for cringeworthy trigger discipline.

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