Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
Nothing says Christmas movie like a high body count and an expletive laden catchphrase, amiright?
Firstly, let me say that Die Hard is a great movie. But it's not a great Christmas movie. Now, while it may seem obvious to Christians who take the celebration of the birth of our savior as sort of a big deal that "Die Hard" is not a Christmas movie, we should spelunk into that cinematic silliness and dispel all the arguments that would have you believe that the freeing of Nakatomi Plaza by a wise-cracking off-duty police officer is a Christmas movie.
I've scoured the internet and discovered some of the major reasons some posit that "Die Hard" is indeed a Christmas movie. Let's counter them, shall we?
1) The movie is set at a Christmas party.
What the what? Look, Harrison Ford escapes from the law by joining a Saint Patrick's Day parade in "The Fugitive?" Does that make it a Saint Patrick's Day movie? Nah. Don't think so. Oliver Stone's "Born on the 4th of July" literally has the 4th of July actually in the title but let's face it, it makes for some pretty depressing Independence Day viewing.
Lethal Weapon isn't a Christmas movie, right? Of course not, but the opening scene involves a naked young woman high on drugs jumping off the balcony of a skyscraper to the tune of “Jingle Bell Rock.” And please recall that we first meet Gibson's character on the job during a drug bust at a Christmas tree lot. I would argue Lethal Weapon has just as much right to be called a Christmas movie. But nobody's calling that a Christmas movie. Why? Because it's not!
Look, if "A Christmas Story" was all about Ralphie taking on Black Bart rather than the story about his family's Christmas and his desire for Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle as a gift, it wouldn't be a Christmas movie, right?
2) It's a story about one man willing to sacrifice himself for everyone else.
OK. That's a little more Jesus-y, I'll admit. But Jesus didn't say, "I'll be sacrificed on the cross...BUT ONLY AFTER I RUN OUT OF AMMO!!!!" And here's the thing. Sacrificing oneself for others is more of an Easter story. You wanna' make the argument that Die Hard is an Easter movie we can go into that but Christmas is about the birth of Christ, the coming of the Savior. It's about hope and faith, not about piling up a body count of hostage-taking hi-tech robbers.
3) John McClane's wife is named "Holly."
Wait, seriously? That's a reason? Survey says...XXX. No way. Is Breakfast at Tiffany's a Christmas movie because Audrey Hepburn plays a woman named Holly Golightly? Nope.
4) McClane's "surprise" for Hans Gruber is wrapped up in tape on his back so it's like a gift.
Ah, nothing says Christmas like the gift of death. I'll admit it's about as well wrapped as any gift wrapped by a man. I'll give you that one. As someone who attempts to wrap gifts around this time every year, I do about as well as Bruce Willis did in wrapping that gun. But jokey Smurf used to give everyone a "surprise" bomb in gift wrap. That wasn't a Christmas show, was it?
5) Die Hard has Christmas songs in it.
It does. And this is the best argument there is for its inclusion in the Christmas cinematic canon. The movie has Christmas in Hollis by RUN DMC which is all about how Santa's wallet dropped out of his pocket and it had a million dollars in it. Really. But it also features Christmas faves like Winter Wonderland and Let it Snow and Beethoven's Ode to Joy. So I'll give you that.
But the movie uses the Christmas music ironically. Think about the baptism scene in The Godfather where all those people are getting killed while Michael acts as the godfather at a baptism. The baptism itself is ironically placed much like the Christmas music in Die Hard. Beethoven's Ode to Joy is used in Die Hard when the bad guys finally break into the vault and see their treasure. The tech guy then says, "Merry Christmas!"
I'm sorry. Definitely not Christmas movie material!
6) John McClane puts a Santa hat on one of the baddies whom he has dispatched and wrote on his shirt, "Now I have a machine gun ho-ho-ho."
Because nothing says Christmas like decorated dead bodies? If John McClane had beaten him to death with a tree branch would it be an Arbor Day movie. I could see it now. "Die Hard 5: Treeson!"
7) It's a story about a man reconnecting with his family and what could be more Christmas than that?
OK. Reconnecting with family is important but not necessarily Christmas. I'm pretty sure connecting with your wife and children is pretty crucial 365 days a year, not just on Christmas. There's nothing in the original Christmas story about reconnecting with family. In fact, the three wise men packed up their gear and left their families for quite some time on their quest. And also, John McClane himself does away with Christmas being the inspiration for his trip when he's crawling through the vents and he says "Come out to the coast. We'll get together, have a few laughs." You see, he wasn't even invited under the pretense of reconnecting for Christmas. It was about having a few laughs and getting together. Nothing about Christmas.
I rest my case. Die Hard is a great movie. Not a Christmas movie.