Why Die Hard is a Christmas Movie to Me

What’s your favorite Christmas movie? It is A Charlie Brown Christmas? It’s a Wonderful Life? How the Grinch Stole Christmas? A Christmas Story? A Christmas Carol? Miracle on 34th Street? How about Elf? Jingle All The Way? Or The Santa Clause? I would understand anyone would pick any of the above as their favorite Yuletide film.

Me? My personal favorite just has to be Die Hard. 

When I say that, I’m sometimes met with people who nod agreeingly to that statement. More often than not, however, I get this weird puzzled look or something like I’m being a wise-ass. That’s because a lot of people don’t believe or just can’t simply comprehend a blockbuster action film, filled with profanity and violence, to be a Christmas movie. Yet, even with the naysayers, I will always contend Die Hard to be my favorite Christmas film.

There are tons of people who will fight me on that statement, of course. Bruce Willis, John McClane himself, declared that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie. However, there is some context to this statement. This was done during a comedy special roasting the star and he actually said, “Die Hard is not a Christmas movie! It is a goddamn Bruce Willis movie!” So it could be something that’s part of the gag. But there are already tons of people who say that Die Hard isn’t a Christmas movie at all. According to a recent poll by Morning Consult and the Hollywood Reporter, most people do not believe that John McClane’s adventures in Nakatomi Plaza isn’t a holiday classic because it’s not even a holiday film.

I guess I belong to the other 25% then!

Despite being part of the minority, I still say Die Hard is a Christmas classic is it’s set during the holidays. In fact, that’s the reason why John McClane is at the Nakatomi Plaza; he’s there to attend a Christmas party. The film actually hammers it home that it’s set during the holidays! There are Christmas decorations everywhere. Some classic and memorable lines, like “Now I have a machine gun. Ho-ho-ho.” just wouldn’t work if it was set during another time. They even pipe in holiday music throughout the film.

Of course, there’s the argument that it can be set during any other holiday and it would still work. For the most part, yes. But you can actually say the same thing for a couple of Christmas staples: Home Alone and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Sure, the plot of Home Alone revolves around the McCallister family leaving for the Christmas holidays, leaving Kevin all alone to defend the house against the Wet Bandits. But did it really have to be set during the holidays? Home Alone could’ve just been easily set during 4th of July weekend, couldn’t it? It would still work but it just makes more sense to set it during Christmas. Yet no one complains that Home Alone is a Christmas movie.

How about It’s a Wonderful Life? That’s a classic film that’s aired every year during the holiday season. Well, let’s not talk about how It’s a Wonderful Life didn’t make all that much money when it was first released and only became “a classic” because a ton of television stations found out they could air it for free since no one bothered to renew it.

But let’s look at the story of It’s a Wonderful Life closely. Basically, it’s all about George Bailey and his life falls into the crapper because of some misplaced money. He then says that life would be better if he was never born. Clarence, George Bailey’s guardian angel, grants his wish, enabling George to see what a horrible life it would be if he indeed wasn’t born. George then wishes to be returned to the original timeline, which is granted as well. The townspeople then rally around George and donate enough cash to cover the missing money. A bell rings because that’s how you know an angel gets his wings, apparently. The end.

Now, tell me… what does any of that have to do with Christmas? Even the original trailer doesn’t mention the holiday at all!

It’s a Wonderful Life is another film that just so happened to be set during Christmas Eve but the plot and the story didn’t need to be. Heck, it could’ve been set on just any ordinary day, couldn’t it? Yet no one ever argues that It’s a Wonderful Life is a Christmas film! Even as I said all of this, I will not say it isn’t. 

But back to Die Hard. Another argument against it is that it wasn’t released during the holiday season. Yes, despite it being set during the Christmas season, Die Hard was actually released during the summer of 1988 (making this year to be Die Hard’s 30th anniversary, by the way). Specifically, the 12th of July. Shouldn’t that cinch it? Shouldn’t the mere fact that it wasn’t released during Christmas automatically disqualify itself from being a holiday classic?

Well, hold your horses there! Just because a film wasn’t released during the season, that doesn’t mean it can be a Christmas classic. Just take a look at the original Miracle on 34th Street!

Yes, Miracle on 34th Street, about a department store Santa Claus who claims to be the real deal, wasn’t released on Christmas or even close to Thanksgiving like the remake in 1994. No, the original Miracle on 34th Street, the one from 1947 was released on, get this, June! A whole six months ahead of the Christmas season! But we all let that slide because, hey! Santa Claus!

But the biggest reason why I say Die Hard is a Christmas movie is because it’s become a tradition of mine. It’s a movie that I just love to watch during the season and it’s become a staple of Christmas to me. Die Hard is one of those films that most cable television channels like HBO air during the time period and it’s just become ubiquitous to Christmas to me already. They’ve been doing it for years and it’s something I’ve grown to expect. You know the meme, “It’s not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off Nakatomi Plaza”? Well, it’s true for me and, apparently, 25% of the people who took that survey above!

To me, watching Die Hard at Christmas has become a tradition. There are other films that have become that way for other people. I bet there are some fans who love watching something like Nightmare Before Christmas (which I watch every Halloween, by the way) or Gremlins because these are also some movies that are shown during Christmas because those films also draw their main plot threads from the season. And I’m just scratching the surface because there are other films out there like Bad Santa, The Night Before or even Batman Returns! If watching those films give you the feels of Christmas, who am I to argue why?

While I can definitely watch Die Hard anytime I want and I will watch it if I happen to stumble across it while channel surfing, the film has become something that I have to watch on Christmas. If it’s the Christmas season, I expect to be watching Die Hard at some point in the near future!

So, yes, boys and girls. Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It’s something I watch while I celebrate the season of good cheer and peace on earth. Besides, what could be more cathartic from the holiday doldrums than watching Bruce Willis kill a bunch of people?

What is your favorite Christmas film? Let me know in the comments section below!

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