No, just kidding. I’ll die on this hill: It’s not a Christmas movie. But it’s cute of 20th Century Fox to throw this new trailer together and put it on YouTube as the annual, now seemingly endless, debate rages anew. I’m inclined to say they should have omitted the action sequences entirely here and repackaged it as lighthearted romantic fare, but how many minutes of footage are there in DH of Bruce Willis neither bleeding nor killing people? Two?
Let me take one more shot at convincing the true believers that they’re wrong. Of course “Die Hard” is set at Christmas, but the accoutrements of Christmas do not alone a Christmas movie make. We can agree on that much, right? If all it takes is a Christmas setting, you could remake “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” set it on Christmas during a blizzard (“Minnesota Chainsaw Massacre”?), have the gang of homicidal maniacs reflect briefly at the end on the true importance of family, et voila — “Christmas movie.”
What is, or should, define a “Christmas movie” is affection. Familial affection, romantic affection, friendly affection, whatever. The warm fuzzies. And note: I said define. Having Leatherface kill everyone at the local animal shelter on Christmas Eve because they won’t let him adopt a puppy doesn’t become the plot of a Christmas movie just because he walks out cuddling a puppy in the end. (Although now that I think of it, I would watch the hell out of that. Maybe I’ll write that pitch.) There’d be a moment of warm fuzzies, but that wouldn’t define the movie. The bloodletting is the point; the puppy is simply the MacGuffin that gives it a reason to happen.
Same with the romantic subplot of “Die Hard,” though. McClane’s estranged wife is a rudimentary MacGuffin created to give him a reason to be in the building and to fight on. The Christmas setting lends a cheeky ironic twist to the relentless violence. You don’t watch “Die Hard” because it makes you feel good to see John and Holly McClane reunited at the end, you watch it because it makes you feel good to watch Hans’s expression as he falls from the roof of a skyscraper. McClane’s wife is the “Leatherface puppy” of DH. Not a Christmas movie.
Here’s the real clincher, though: The screenwriter obviously picked the wrong holiday on which to set the film. We already have multiple days devoted to celebrating the willingness and ability of American bad-asses to liquidate malevolent Eurotrash. Independence Day or Veterans Day, buddy. Either one would have worked fine. Imagine fireworks going off in the background when the roof of Nakatomi Plaza blows up.