Once more, with feeling: “Die Hard” is not a Christmas movie

posted at 4:01 pm on December 24, 2013 by Allahpundit

The eternal debate is raging anew on Twitter this afternoon, so let’s spend a few more minutes exploring why you’re all wrong about this. Simple question: Has anyone ever said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for a Christmas movie. I know — I’ll watch ‘Die Hard’”? No, they have not. Lots of people have said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for an action movie. I know — I’ll watch ‘Die Hard.’” Lots of people have also said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for ‘Die Hard,’ period.” That’s how singularly awesome and culturally ubiquitous the film is: Sometimes you’ll get a movie itch and nothing else but DH will scratch it. But — and this is the key point, worth (re)emphasizing — the fact that “Die Hard” is an exceptional movie set on Christmas Eve does not make it an exceptional “Christmas movie.” If it does, then the fact that McClane’s heroism is all about reconciling with his wife should, in theory, also make DH one of the great romantic movies ever made. I wince as I write that, knowing that now the “Die Hard” superfans are going to say, “IT IS ONE OF THE GREAT ROMANCES EVER MADE.” But of course, it isn’t. The romantic subplot is useful in humanizing McClane, making an already likeable character even easier to root for. But ultimately it’s window dressing for what truly makes “Die Hard” great, just like the Christmas elements are.

I’ll grant the “‘Die Hard’ is too a Christmas movie” crowd this much: Genres shouldn’t be defined too rigidly. The traditional “Christmas movie” as most people understand it is a cavalcade of warm-fuzzies in which the hero ends up receiving a gift that somehow re-shapes his or her life. That’s the gist of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story,” and of course the eight thousand filmed versions of “A Christmas Carol.” Usually the gift involves newfound appreciation of one’s family, but not always. (A classic TV version of the “Christmas movie,” I think, is the Art Carney/Santa episode of the “Twilight Zone.”) But if you think that’s too narrow a definition, okay. I’m open to the idea of defining “Christmas movie” more broadly. Just tell me how “Die Hard” does that. Most of the arguments for including the movie in the canon are either superficial, like McClane’s journeys in the elevator shaft supposedly mimicking Santa coming down the chimney, or too narrowly tied to the traditional genre themselves, like claiming that McClane’s reconciliation with his wife is somehow important and Christmas-y after two hours of him kicking the sh*t out of terrorists. Who cares if they reconcile? The payoff of the movie isn’t the reconciliation, it’s McClane killing the villain by dropping him off a skyscraper. To claim otherwise is like arguing that the payoff in “Star Wars” isn’t Luke blowing up the Death Star, it’s the scene right after where they come back to base and hug. By that logic, if Chewbacca was wearing a Santa hat during the medal ceremony, “Star Wars” would be a Christmas movie too. If you want to argue for DH as part of the Christmas canon, go broadly genre-buster with it — “Christmas is all about joyful exuberance and overcoming evil, and that’s exactly what McClane does!” Not “well, he writes ‘ho ho ho’ on a dead guy’s shirt in one scene, so, hey.”

One more thing. If DH’s “Christmas movie” status hinges on the family subplot, of McClane trying to reconcile with his wife on Christmas Eve, why make him a cop? That signals two things to the audience: First, that he knows his way around weapons and possesses enough courage around bad guys that his exploits are kinda sorta believable, but more importantly, that he’s a guy who’s used to protecting the public and would probably stay and battle Hans even if his wife wasn’t there. Right? Does anyone think McClane, having discovered that his wife left the party before Hans and his crew seized the building, would have simply slipped out a window and gone home rather than stood and fought? Of course not. Nothing would have changed. He would have killed Hans and rescued everyone anyway, because that’s just the sort of ass-kicking mensch he is. And — get this — he would have done it even if it wasn’t Christmas Eve. Christmas doesn’t matter. The wife doesn’t matter. All that matters is that McClane is awesome and unbeatable. Which is why every video store in America stocked “Die Hard” in its “action” section, not its “Christmas” section.

Here’s “Red Eye” debating this very important question a few days ago. Good point from Joe Concha: What kind of respectable “Christmas movie” sets an office party on Christmas Eve? No one would be there. C’mon.


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Die Hard has the same redeeming lessons of It’s a Wonderful Life, which no one can argue isn’t a Christmas movie.

What if… McClane wasn’t there? The only difference between Mclane and George Bailey, McClane did all his good deeds after the crap hit the fan.

Hog Wild on December 24, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Even if Die Hard is a Christmas movie, it is not the best. Brazil is.

jefrey with one f on December 24, 2013 at 6:18 PM

Speaking of Red Eye, what happened to Gutfeld’s long-time half-a-homo sidekick, “Bill”?

TXUS on December 24, 2013 at 6:27 PM

Even if Die Hard is a Christmas movie, it is not the best. Brazil is.

jefrey with one f on December 24, 2013 at 6:18 PM

*mind blown*

Kensington on December 24, 2013 at 6:34 PM

In Ukraine “The Fifth Element” is shown every New Year’s. That makes it a New Year’s movie. Looks like Bruce Willis needs to make something that just naturally goes with Thanksgiving.

Spartacus on December 24, 2013 at 6:41 PM

Absurd. Who thinks of Christmas when they watch it? Who even remember it takes place at Christmas?

rickv404 on December 24, 2013 at 6:43 PM

rickv404 on December 24, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Everybody except you.

cozmo on December 24, 2013 at 7:20 PM

Ace’s arguments to the contrary are far more compelling.

besser tot als rot on December 24, 2013 at 4:09 PM

Everything Ace says compared with Allah more compelling.

The Notorious G.O.P on December 24, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Looks like Bruce Willis needs to make something that just naturally goes with Thanksgiving.

Spartacus on December 24, 2013 at 6:41 PM

The Whole Nine Yards with Mathew Perry was quite a turkey. Does that count?

Flange on December 24, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Everything Ace says compared with Allah more compelling.

The Notorious G.O.P on December 24, 2013 at 7:25 PM

Be nice. It’s Christmas.

You can tell it’s Christmas because everybody’s watching DIE HARD.

Solaratov on December 24, 2013 at 7:36 PM

********** MERRY CHRISTMAS Hot Air Crew Members and Readers *********

From Upper Northern Ontario Canada:0

canopfor on December 24, 2013 at 7:41 PM

Solaratov on December 24, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Touche’

cozmo on December 24, 2013 at 7:42 PM

I made a list on Facebook at the beginning of the month, before this debate erupted, of all the Christmas movies I needed to see this year. “Die Hard” was atop the list.

“Die Hard” is a Christmas movie.

29Victor on December 24, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Oh,..and a Merry Christmas from the SyrianElectonicArmyGoons??
(Watch your emails with extra scrutiny)(sarc)

Syrian Electronic Army
34m
=====
Federal Bureau of Investigation dispatches warning notices about Syrian Electronic Army activity, according to 2 people who received the notices – @nytimesbits
read more on nytimes.com
========================

58 minutes ago
The Syrian Electronic Army Is at It Again
By NICOLE PERLROTH
******************

It’s a happy hacker holiday once again.

This Christmas it’s not Anonymous or Iranian hackers you need to worry about — it’s the Syrian Electronic Army.

On Tuesday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation dispatched warning notices that the S.E.A. was at it again, according to two people who received the notices, which included various digital clues to help companies block attempted cyberattacks.(More……..)
=========================================================

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/the-syrian-electronic-army-is-at-it-again/?src=twr

canopfor on December 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

Speaking of Red Eye, what happened to Gutfeld’s long-time half-a-homo sidekick, “Bill”?

TXUS on December 24, 2013 at 6:27 PM

I believe it was a fallout over money between Pajama Bill & Fox.

Anti-Control on December 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

Christmas in Hollis.

Thank you, Die Hard. :) Merry Christmas

CantCureStupid on December 24, 2013 at 7:48 PM

I never thought of Die Hard was a Christmas movie until AP wrote that it wasn’t. Now I’m having to rethink my opinion as it’s probably wrong and Die Hard is indeed a Christmas movie.

Robbin Hood on December 24, 2013 at 8:11 PM

Is Gremlins a Christmas movie? Or is it a movie that takes place at Christmas?

JohnBrown on December 24, 2013 at 8:13 PM

The Whole Nine Yards with Mathew Perry was quite a turkey. Does that count?

Flange on December 24, 2013 at 7:31 PM

Excuse me. Amanda Peet was naked in that movie. No way it could be a turkey. Mediocre is the lowest it could possibly go.

trigon on December 24, 2013 at 8:15 PM

Gremlims is a Christmas movie. What?

annoyinglittletwerp on December 24, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Is Gremlins a Christmas movie? Or is it a movie that takes place at Christmas?

JohnBrown on December 24, 2013 at 8:13 PM

Gremlins is a hokey Christmas movie.

Of course, if Phoebe Cates had been naked…

trigon on December 24, 2013 at 8:18 PM

Anyway, you’re all wrong. Die Hard isn’t the best Christmas movie ever. Lethal Weapon is.

Mark V. on December 24, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Everybody except you.

cozmo on December 24, 2013 at 7:20 PM

You beat me to it.

Merry Christmas!

David Blue on December 24, 2013 at 8:22 PM

trigon on December 24, 2013 at 8:15 PM

Did you ever see Blake Edward’s S.O.B. with Julie Andrews? I guess that’s not a movie about a viking’s funeral either.

Flange on December 24, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Did you ever see Blake Edward’s S.O.B. with Julie Andrews? I guess that’s not a movie about a viking’s funeral either.

Flange on December 24, 2013 at 8:25 PM

Never saw it. Mary Poppins topless would just be wrong.

trigon on December 24, 2013 at 8:42 PM

Never saw it. Mary Poppins topless would just be wrong.

trigon on December 24, 2013 at 8:42 PM

It’s not as traumatic as you might think. :-)

Flange on December 24, 2013 at 9:23 PM

Simple question: Has anyone ever said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for a Christmas movie. I know — I’ll watch ‘Die Hard’”? No, they have not.

Bullcrap. I have said exactly that.

GWB on December 24, 2013 at 9:24 PM

“The payoff of the movie isn’t the reconciliation, it’s McClane killing the villain by dropping him off a skyscraper.”
.
Whatever happened to “Spoiler Alert”?!? :-)

KS Rex on December 24, 2013 at 10:13 PM

It’s been on my list of Christmas favorites for years. I think I’ll watch it tonight.

doufree on December 24, 2013 at 11:26 PM

Huh?

Die Hard was mediocre. I don’t know where this idea that it was some stellar piece of work came from. Yeah … it had numerous sequels, but so did lots of really awful movies – and the Die Hard sequels really blew chunks (the few minutes of them that I managed to watch.

I don’t know … Die Hard was just another movie. Not a great movie. A fun movie, but not that fun. So-so.

If you are hanging out with anyone who says, “I’m in the mood for Die Hard” … find some other people to hang out with.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on December 24, 2013 at 4:46 PM

Die Hard is not mediocre, but I will risk the wrath of the Hot Gassers by saying it is a tad overrated. And the reason why can be summed up in two words: Dwayne Robinson. The moment he enters the picture, things don’t necessarily go downhill, but the movie is never quite the same. The character was an a-hole in the book, but he wasn’t an idiot like he was in the film. Plus the book had a better payoff with Powell literally pushing him into the path of Karl’s bullets as he tries to shoot McClane(technically Joe Leland in the book).

Doughboy on December 25, 2013 at 12:55 AM

Die Hard 2 was much more Christmas-y because of all the snow.. And the storyline does take place during Christmas.

fatlibertarianinokc on December 25, 2013 at 2:01 AM

Has anyone ever said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for a Christmas movie. I know — I’ll watch ‘Die Hard’”? No, they have not.

Ever so sorry to inform you that you are WRONG!

jaydee_007 on December 25, 2013 at 4:06 AM

Simple question: Has anyone ever said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for a Christmas movie. I know — I’ll watch ‘Die Hard’”? No, they have not.

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny, “He don’t know me very well, do he.”

apostic on December 25, 2013 at 4:44 AM

It’s an action flick with some Christmas touch. And that is enough reason to watch it at Christmas.

Sherman1864 on December 25, 2013 at 4:59 AM

“Simple question: Has anyone ever said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for a Christmas movie. I know — I’ll watch ‘Die Hard’”? No, they have not.”

Yes, I have! I did last night. After finishing with cleaning up from Christmas Eve dinner and wrapping presents, my Wife and I popped “Die Hard” into the VHS(!) and fell asleep to the sweet caress of F-Bombs and Yippee-Kai-Yah M-F!

drocity on December 25, 2013 at 7:38 AM

There’s only 1 Christmas movie in my book. It’s just about to start too. That’s right. It’s time for Ben Hur!

MJBrutus on December 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Even if Die Hard is a Christmas movie, it is not the best. Brazil is.

jefrey with one f on December 24, 2013 at 6:18 PM

poppycock. brazil is a romance.

t8stlikchkn on December 25, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Whatever happened to “Spoiler Alert”?!? :-)

KS Rex on December 24, 2013 at 10:13 PM

anyone who doesnt already KNOW that, deserves to be spoiled.

t8stlikchkn on December 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Is Rare Exports a Christmas movie? Finnish. Great!

stillings on December 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM

…is Ben-Hur a Christmas movie?…they show it EVERY Christmas!

KOOLAID2 on December 25, 2013 at 11:38 AM

I studied film for five years, wrote papers on everything from Universal Horror to Film Noir… and finally earned an actual degree. (It’s printed on a fancy piece of paper and everything!)

So, in my expert opinion “Die Hard” is totally a Christmas movie.

Now, you’ll excuse me as I take my liberal arts degree and go stand in line at the unemployment office. Merry Christmas!

Rude on December 25, 2013 at 5:12 PM

HO HO HO
NOW I HAVE A MACHINE GUN

Your argument is invalid.

DarthBrooks on December 24, 2013 at 4:08 PM

Winner!

On a side note, anyone remember the price of gas when the cop is walking out of the gas station after he gets the call to investigate the tower?

It’ll make you cry.

Yakko77 on December 25, 2013 at 9:14 PM

So this is what Christmas link trolling looks like? New low.

But of course, Die Hard IS a Christmas movie.

Texas Zombie on December 25, 2013 at 10:47 PM

- Multiple Christmas songs playing.

- Man going to visit his family for Christmas.

- Buys a present for his daughter.

- Several Christmas references in the movie.

- Snow during the movie specifically creating a “white Christmas” environment.

- Punching out an obnoxious, leftist reporter = every conservative’s ultimate Christmas present.

Clearly a Christmas movie.

njrob on December 25, 2013 at 11:29 PM

The payoff of the movie isn’t the reconciliation, it’s McClane killing the villain by dropping him off a skyscraper.”
.
Whatever happened to “Spoiler Alert”?!? :-)

KS Rex on December 24, 2013 at 10:13 PM

There is a twenty-five year statute of limitation for spoiler alerts. You missed it by “that” much.

HiJack on December 25, 2013 at 11:54 PM

Any movie that is about Christmas, has “Christmas” in the title, references Christmas, or takes place during the Christmas season is a Christmas movie. Otherwise, it’s a gay movie.

HiJack on December 25, 2013 at 11:57 PM

…is Ben-Hur a Christmas movie?…they show it EVERY Christmas!

KOOLAID2 on December 25, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Are you sure that’s not Easter when Ben-Hur is shown?

HiJack on December 25, 2013 at 11:59 PM

Simple question: Has anyone ever said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for a Christmas movie. I know — I’ll watch ‘Die Hard’”? No, they have not.

I have. Just about every year I watch the Die Hard movies at Christmas time. Die Hard 2 is also set at Christmas.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Ordinary American on December 26, 2013 at 6:13 AM

But ultimately it’s window dressing for what truly makes “Die Hard” great, just like the Christmas elements are.

That being the case, every movie set at Christmas time is only a comedy or romance or drama that happens to have seasonal window dressing, with the sole exception of anything that carries the gospel message.

Which basically eliminates everything except A Charlie Brown Christmas. The original Family Guy Christmas special is more Christmasy than Christmas with the Kranks, Four Christmases, and The Santa Clause Trilogy, combined.

Alternatively, I propose that any movie set at Christmastime is a Christmas movie, on the basis that the setting is the primary defining characteristic. The type of movie – comedy, action, drama – is the genre, but genre has no season, and what is “appropriate” to watch during a holiday is any movie of your preferred genre set during that time.

I mentioned in the last thread that Planes, Trains and Automobiles is required viewing in my household at Thanksgiving, given that it’s the only movie in my memory set specifically during that holiday. Eventually, we have started building up essential viewing for other holidays: Groundhog Day on, well, Groundhog Day, The Passion at Easter, Saving Private Ryan on Memorial Day, Ghostbusters on Halloween. July 4 is up in the air but I’m leaning toward The Patriot, even though it’s basically a b-grade American Braveheart; Independence Day is a close second.

I refuse to watch Valentine’s Day just because it shares the name of the holiday; it’s an Americanized, lesser version of Love Actually and I prefer to let the wife decide what the official household movie will be for that day. I’m taking suggestions for St. Patrick’s Day; Michael Collins, possibly? I didn’t really like that, though. I could cheat and do The Fugitive but that has even less standing than Die Hard, because the time setting is truly incidental to the plot, only mentioned in a single scene.

The Schaef on December 26, 2013 at 10:05 AM

- Punching out an obnoxious, leftist reporter = every conservative’s ultimate Christmas present.

Clearly a Christmas movie.

njrob on December 25, 2013 at 11:29 PM

Even better, she stun-guns him in the sequel.

My problem is, I always look at that guy and think to myself, Walter Peck.

The Schaef on December 26, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Die Hard sucks, of course. It is silliness on a scale that is hard to reckon. The movie is graced and saved by Alan Rickman, inexplicably. Still, it is a guilty pleasure for me. But it could have been made more tolerable by the rational editing (out) of two characters: the ridiculous limo driver and the painfully stupid cop dialogue which pollutes the entire movie, donuts and all.

Jaibones on December 26, 2013 at 1:03 PM

The limo driver was clearly a plot device. Having “Carl” outside the building gave the protagonist a sounding board, so that he’s not spending all his time talking to himself, to say nothing of thwarting the feds’ efforts to continue stumbling blindly into Alan Rickman’s evil plot.

I’m not saying it’s Oscar material; clearly the movie is action junk-food and every bro’s guilty pleasure (like an 80s Arnold movie). I am saying that giving Tom Hanks a volleyball with a face solved the problem of character interaction in a movie where he was even more isolated than McClane.

The Schaef on December 26, 2013 at 3:09 PM

Die Hard is not a Christmas move..

It’s THE Christmas movie

Opinionnation on December 26, 2013 at 10:05 PM

Has anyone ever said to themselves, “I’m in the mood for a Christmas movie. I know — I’ll watch ‘Die Hard’”?

Errr…yes. Often. And I’m saying this with a straight face.

Sorry, AP. Try again.

Excuse me. Amanda Peet was naked in that movie. No way it could be a turkey. Mediocre is the lowest it could possibly go.

trigon on December 24, 2013 at 8:15 PM

You know, I can’t think of nothing finer than a fine naked woman holding a gun.

Chris of Rights on December 27, 2013 at 10:01 AM

Die Hard is not a Christmas move..

It’s THE Christmas movie

Opinionnation on December 26, 2013 at 10:05 PM

georgealbert on December 28, 2013 at 10:20 AM

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