Debating whether “Die Hard” qualifies as a Christmas movie has become a new exercise for pundits to keep us busy during the holidays. But with all due respect to my friend and fellow writer here, Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. Oh, it’s a great action movie that just happens to take place on Christmas Eve, but that doesn’t make it a “Christmas movie.” Here’s why:
1. It’s set in Los Angeles. No Christmas movie is ever set in Los Angeles. You know why? BECAUSE IT DOESN’T SNOW THERE!!!! You know what every single movie you listed (It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, Home Alone, etc.) has in it? SNOW! Even Batman, Edward Scissorhands and Gremlins (which IS a Christmas movie!) all have snow.
Los Angeles is a grimy facade of a place filled with narcissistic actors, soulless producers and women with fake breasts, lips and lives. (I know, because I used to live there.) To paraphrase the old joke, Christmas could never have taken place in LA because they couldn’t find 3 wise men or a virgin.
So, yes. Every Christmas movie DOES have to “take place in something comparable to a Hallmark Channel village where every single bare wall is stapled with wreaths and holly.” I’m sure that’s in the bible somewhere.
2. People die. Nobody ever dies in a Christmas movie. Many a Christmas episode plot centers around WORRYING about death, but nobody actually dies. The Walton family keeps vigil waiting for John to return on Christmas Eve. The Cratchits worry about Tiny Tim’s health (and maybe he would have died if Scrooge hadn’t seen the light.) Kevin’s mother worries about him being left “Home Alone” over Christmas, but of course he survives. Die Hard? Massive body count. And also a lot of swearing.
3. The date could be changed without altering the plot. Imagine they were celebrating a 4th of July barbecue at Nakatomi plaza. Would the movie still work? Sure. It could be a New Year’s party, or a retirement party (people get watches at retirement parties.) Or just a regular work day when John McClane flies in to discuss his obviously troubled marriage. They might have to change the soundtrack, but the movie would still work.
4. It was released in July. I don’t care what the writer says NOW. You don’t release a Christmas movie in July.
Oh, and you mentioned that John’s wife is named Holly but you totally missed that the villain was named after a priest who composed the holiest Christmas carol “Silent Night?” That’s almost sacrilege there. That makes it an anti-Christmas movie.
5. The hero doesn’t actually learn anything. If John McClane learned the value of his family, the lesson didn’t stick. We learn in the last sequel that his wife divorced him and he hasn’t spoken to his son in years. So, he saved her from terrorists and she STILL divorced him? Either she’s an ungrateful you-know-what or he was the worst husband in the world.
If you’re still not convinced, then you probably think Cindy Lou Who should have finished off the Grinch with a machine gun, shouted “Yippee ki yay” and carved him up for Christmas dinner instead of the roast beast. Which may actually be the plot of the new “Grinch” remake. I don’t know. I haven’t seen it yet. Nothing would surprise me anymore.