By Sterling Pingree
Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? This question has been lingering in the ether for more than a week now. It started when Jeff brought it forth as a Take It or Leave It question. Most said that it was, Jeff disagreed. Since that time, the argument has raged in the Greenway Equipment Studios. Last night, Aaron Jackson and myself sat down and watched this holiday classic in its entirety with no commercial interruptions so as to build the case that Die Hard, is in fact a Christmas movie.
First off the obvious argument for it is because it’s set at a Christmas party and takes place on Christmas Eve. Why would a movie set on Christmas Eve, at a Christmas party, not be considered a Christmas movie? It was a conscious decision by Hans Gruber to invade Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve and just because he wasn’t drinking Wassel (do you drink Wassel? Is it like a figgy pudding? I don’t know what either of them are) doesn’t mean that Die Hard isn’t as traditional It’s a Wonderful Life.
My two arguments for Die Hard’s inclusion on the holiday movie pantheon is against the argument of: Die Hard is a just a great action movie that happens to take place on Christmas. Where I agree with both points, it’s the inclusion of the second one that makes the case. Can you think of a movie set on Christmas that isn’t a Christmas movie? Go ahead, I’ll wait. There isn’t one, but this argument says something else that’s unintended I believe and that is that an action movie cannot be a Christmas movie.
Why can’t an action movie be a Christmas movie? Perhaps the most common contributions to the genre these days are horror movies. Are you telling me that a horror movie can be a Christmas movie but Bruce Willis yelling “Yippee ki-yay” is a bridge too far? This kind of thinking can be attributed to one thing and that’s the new sub-genre of: Hallmark Christmas movies.
You’ve seen these if you are, know or live with a woman. They love these things and they’re easy to get hooked on. The general themes are always the same: lead character leaves something lucrative behind, could be a high paying job and a corner office, an inheritance or in some extreme cases the crown of Latvia. Cast two stars from 1990’s TV (think Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez) put them in a situation where the entire small town knows they’re going to fall in love, yet they don’t know it yet. Make one of the main characters a single parent with a special skill like baking cupcakes, carpentry or archery .Throw in Ed Asner as the all-knowing grandfather who turns out to really be Santa and Brian Doyle Murray as some sort of pseudo villain, add the happiest of endings and there you go. Fun for the entire family.
Die Hard is a Christmas movie, just like Home Alone is a Christmas movie. Just because every scene doesn’t revolve around tradition, lights and caroling doesn’t mean John McClane is any less of a traditional figure than Kevin McCallister or Clark W. Griswold. Nobody is making the argument that Home Alone is a kidnapping movie. It is in the spirit of Christmas and good will towards men that I propose a compromise. We all agree to change the name “Die Hard” to “Christmas at Nakatomi Plaza.” That should clear all of this up, it’s not the movie that leaves doubt to its genre, it’s simply the nomenclature. That should make it easier for Jeff to understand what, apparently everybody on Facebook already knew and that is that Die Hard IS a Christmas movie.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.