News

Is Die Hard A Christmas Movie?

Help us settle one of the most contentious perennial debates of the holiday season.

by | December 5, 2018 | Comments

20th Century Fox Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection)

In 1988, Bruce Willis was primarily a television star, known for his smoldering chemistry with Cybill Shepherd on the ABC series Moonlighting. Then, John “I just directed Predator” McTiernan came along and turned him into a bona fide action hero with the help of Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia, Reginald VelJohnson, and a Los Angeles skyscraper known as Nakatomi Plaza. Since then, Die Hard has become something of a holiday staple for generations of fans who prefer their Christmas turkey with a bit of carnage on the side. But there has been an equally passionate subset of the population that insists rather adamantly that Die Hard is not, in fact, a Christmas movie, and arguing about the distinction has become just as much a yearly tradition.

With all of that in mind, we present to you both sides of the argument — one from an RT staffer who believes Die Hard should be considered a Christmas movie, and one from an RT staffer who doesn’t — and ask you to help us settle the debate once and for all. So, is Die Hard a Christmas movie?


Yippie-Ki-Yay!

20th Century Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by 20th Century Film Corp. courtesy Everett Collection)

Die Hard is a Christmas movie like a stocking is a present: The packaging is different, and some years it hangs nowhere near the tree, but that makes it no less part of the tradition.

The gift of Die Hard is that it gives everyone a kick-ass movie to register your disgust (whether genuine or facetious) at the overbearing supremacy of December 25th. What other holiday comes with as much stress or as many marching orders? They give us songs about white Christmases and snow; this movie sets up among palm trees and a steel skyscraper. They speak of hope and goodwill; Die Hard delivers hard-nosed cynicism and explosions. For most, Christmas is about coming together with family. For everyone else, Christmas is about going somewhere you don’t want to be, stuck in a building with people you can’t escape — essentially the plot of Die Hard. This is a machine gun pressed against the status quo, necessary more than ever now that modern American society has devolved Christmas into a political battleground.

It boils down to this: America need a movie to push back the baggage of the holidays. It could’ve been Lethal Weapon. It could’ve been Tangerine. Hell, it could’ve been Edward Scissorhands. But it wasn’t them. You know why? Because when you’re in need of the right movie at the wrong time, you need yippie-ki-yayin’ John McClane.


Yippie-Ki-Nay!

20th Century Fox Film Corp.
(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)

There are a few things that should qualify a film as a Christmas movie, but the most commonly accepted distinction demands that the holiday play a central role in the plot. Even on this most basic requirement, Die Hard fails — while it certainly takes place on Christmas Eve, the date is entirely incidental to the plot. The holiday party could easily have been replaced by any number of work-related celebrations, and John McClane could have been making the trip from Philly to L.A. for any number of family-related reasons. It didn’t have to be Christmas Eve, because literally none of the significant plot developments in the story would need to be changed if it took place during any other time of the year. If that’s not enough, what about the spirit of the holiday? Christmastime should be a celebration of family and friends, a time for joy and uplift and peace and love. But no, let’s go ahead and watch greedy terrorists (yeah, I know, “Who said we were terrorists?”) blow people’s brains out, and then watch a wise-ass cop wreak righteous, bloody vengeance upon them. Oh yeah, that feels like Christmas. If you need more convincing, consider that Die Hard opened on July 20. That’s right, July — it was more summer blockbuster than holiday film, and its marketing reflected that.

Look, at the end of the day, is Die Hard one of the best action films ever made? Hell yes. But is it a Christmas movie? No, no it is not. And if you don’t believe me, ask Bruce Willis himself, or, you know, the 62% of the population who agree with me.


 

Tag Cloud

cancelled comedies Lionsgate Creative Arts Emmys The CW police drama Cosplay TNT Comic Book Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt stand-up comedy El Rey American Society of Cinematographers Trivia quibi canceled TV shows Rock DC Universe Britbox Holidays streaming Rocketman LGBT Syfy superhero series Music spanish language Family Sundance Now screenings space cancelled TV series Oscars DGA game of thrones Holiday sports films Columbia Pictures X-Men CMT YouTube teaser vampires Adult Swim ABC Tubi Marvel Rocky Election strong female leads medical drama travel cults Comedy Central Television Critics Association Television Academy BET Awards CBS Mystery casting 20th Century Fox tv talk free movies hist Mary Tyler Moore composers TCA 2017 reviews Fantasy Musical all-time SXSW TCA Awards harry potter HBO Sundance Freeform APB Showtime See It Skip It Sneak Peek Polls and Games festivals romance universal monsters chucky talk show cats HBO Max Ovation rotten movies we love Horror CW Seed christmas movies Heroines video on demand Ghostbusters franchise indiana jones Amazon Prime Video renewed TV shows 45 History movies BBC America HBO Go Country Character Guide Summer 2017 ESPN dark sequel award winner MTV Disney Channel FX on Hulu Comedy Reality YouTube Premium Tomatazos mutant singing competition crossover unscripted The Arrangement First Look Year in Review Fall TV Hear Us Out Writers Guild of America classics Logo Classic Film obituary crime dogs parents 2020 aliens 2018 Apple ABC Family dramedy RT21 ghosts LGBTQ DC streaming service President Shondaland WGN San Diego Comic-Con Disney+ Disney Plus Netflix Christmas movies crime drama Quiz hispanic Turner Classic Movies comiccon stop motion die hard historical drama disaster Thanksgiving Super Bowl period drama 71st Emmy Awards Film Festival Winners revenge The Witch scary movies elevated horror directors criterion Opinion MCU DirecTV Shudder fast and furious The Purge Set visit First Reviews joker Pixar Mary poppins A&E ITV dc Discovery Channel nbcuniversal video Captain marvel cartoon USA Network Schedule cinemax Red Carpet Travel Channel CNN biography Box Office Martial Arts robots spider-man Awards Tour game show Toys Disney streaming service Hulu theme song blaxploitation batman concert Elton John YA Amazon Prime Spectrum Originals Vudu E! VH1 stoner Countdown comics children's TV 2016 latino Brie Larson independent Chernobyl Grammys Arrowverse Interview Academy Awards 2019 Sci-Fi adventure thriller Peacock Awards Turner Esquire Pet Sematary TBS MSNBC Apple TV Plus kids YouTube Red BBC One richard e. Grant boxoffice Ellie Kemper Netflix WarnerMedia Infographic natural history Masterpiece OneApp Song of Ice and Fire Pirates Dark Horse Comics child's play TIFF Star Wars Emmy Nominations Sundance TV cars Mindy Kaling serial killer GLAAD Valentine's Day docudrama social media Drama GIFs mockumentary canceled Avengers Women's History Month Paramount diversity Marvel Studios ratings Western green book Biopics witnail facebook comic Lifetime Christmas movies Action PlayStation TCA Universal spy thriller zombies breaking bad SundanceTV Nominations FX political drama mission: impossible Black Mirror crime thriller SDCC war miniseries zero dark thirty Superheroes binge Spike hollywood Amazon Studios TCM science fiction werewolf Kids & Family Mary Poppins Returns Tarantino asian-american Amazon IFC Films sitcom anthology Baby Yoda 007 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina psychological thriller Extras Cannes technology supernatural 4/20 TV renewals sag awards Pop TV politics Teen Disney Plus Tumblr PBS toy story Warner Bros. Stephen King zombie Emmys Sony Pictures TLC E3 Apple TV+ Nat Geo Winter TV TV news documentaries Fox News Hallmark indie Crackle dragons screen actors guild New York Comic Con transformers Star Trek worst Spring TV romantic comedy CBS All Access discovery twilight Endgame PaleyFest finale dceu BET RT History Video Games TV Land spinoff foreign Cartoon Network laika anime Musicals blockbuster NBC 2015 Crunchyroll book NYCC documentary Paramount Network golden globes Walt Disney Pictures Funimation Pop television halloween USA best Disney Hallmark Christmas movies AMC movie FOX Starz Marvel Television TruTV TCA Winter 2020 cops Animation Marathons psycho Lucasfilm justice league Anna Paquin Film Photos IFC Rom-Com based on movie Binge Guide 21st Century Fox Certified Fresh Epix emmy awards Comics on TV BBC versus Calendar Acorn TV Black History Month 72 Emmy Awards Trophy Talk name the review adaptation doctor who VOD Bravo National Geographic south america slashers Best and Worst Pride Month GoT Trailer cancelled TV shows Mudbound true crime BAFTA satire what to watch FXX Food Network a nightmare on elm street rotten animated critics VICE A24 jamie lee curtis nature 24 frames Lifetime Reality Competition The Walking Dead DC Comics Premiere Dates cooking Superheroe Nickelodeon Watching Series Podcast spain OWN Christmas cancelled television reboot