Confession: I'd never seen Die Hard until a few days ago, but that never stopped me from participating in debates about whether or not it was a Christmas movie. *nervous laughter* Oops.
I mean, we're all a little guilty of that, right? Talking about shit we don't actually know anything about... I digress. Obviously, I should have seen the movie long before now, but cut me some slack. I was a toddler when it came out, and by the time I was old enough to watch it, it wasn't exactly on my radar.
(Though I should probably admit that when I was around 7 years old I had a weird obsession with Terminator 2, and I have no idea how I was allowed to watch it so much or why it appealed to me... I'm a complicated person, with lots of conflicting thoughts and feelings, okay?)
Generally speaking, action movies bore me. I know, I know. That seems bizarre, since the whole point of action is to be exciting and engaging, but I have a tendency to glaze over as soon as there's an explosion or a bunch of gun fire or a car chase. Give me some quality comedic dialogue or some intense romantic tension, though, and I'll stop scrolling my phone.
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So, anyway, I was surprised by how much I actually really liked Die Hard. I expected it to be way too cheesy and blowy-uppy. And for the record, there was definitely a lot of cheese and plenty of things got blown up, but it was also genuinely funny and it had just enough relationship drama to soothe my hopeless romantic soul.
But that's not what makes it a Christmas movie.
It's a Christmas movie, because hello, the entire movie happens in one day at a holiday party on Christmas Eve. There are lights and trees and other festive decorations everywhere, plus holiday music and constant holiday references, and the plot is driven specifically by the fact that it's Christmas.
For anyone out there who is late to the game like I was, Bruce Willis's character, a cop, is visiting his estranged wife (the talented and beautiful Bonnie Bedelia, who also stars on one of my favorite shows ever - Parenthood) and comes to her office Christmas party, where some bad guys end up holding everyone hostage and our hero has to go vigilante on their asses. It's mostly about watching Bruce's undershirt turn from bright white to dingy brown and bloody, but it's entertaining. And. It. Is. A. Christmas. Movie.
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Side note: I was so clueless about this movie that I completely forgot Alan Rickman was in it, and I fucking love Alan Rickman, RIP. If you ask me, he's more of a villain in Love Actually than he is as Hans Gruber.
I also got stupid excited when I recognized the dad from Family Matters is in it (Reginald VelJohnson), and he is also a cop in this movie just like he is in the TV show, and that sent me down a whole rabbit hole because I needed to know if these two roles were connected at all or if it was just a coincidence.
ANYWAY - the movie has to happen at Christmas or it just wouldn't have the same effect. John McClane is a pretty stubborn guy, which even he admits in an emotional scene near the end that actually kinda got me in my feels tbh, and it took something like Christmas to push him to suck up his pride to come visit his family in the first place. Also, the fact that the couple is estranged is important, because they're using two different last names which is significant to the plot. The ending is right on target with any other holiday movie that gives you that heartwarming reminder that love and family are the most important things any of us have.
But even if none of those things were true, it's still a Christmas movie, because it happens at Christmas. If there were only a handful of scenes that happened at Christmas or at the office party, you'd have a solid argument for saying it's not a holiday movie, but in this case, there's no way around it.
Here's the way I see it. Is it an action movie? Absolutely. Is it a Christmas movie? Absolutely. Are those two things mutually exclusive? Of course not!
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You don't see anyone arguing about whether Elf and It's A Wonderful Life and The Polar Express are all Christmas movies even though they are very different from each other. Christmas movies fall into different genres - comedy, romance, adventure, animation, and even horror... and thriller... and yes, even action - that doesn't mean they don't still qualify as holiday films.
(Do I personally watch Krampus or Gremlins to get in the holiday spirit? No. Are they still Christmas movies? Yes.)
For anyone who disagrees with me, all I have to say is...
Jenn Scott Pickett is a freelance writer for hire who specializes in parenting and lifestyle content. She is half of the comedy duo that makes up Salty Mermaid Entertainment based in Atlanta, GA. In her free time - Wait. She's a mom of three. She doesn't have any free time. Learn more by clicking here.