This weekend I experienced an important rite-of-passage: I watched “Die Hard” for the first time. It was a movie I never thought much about before — I’m more into documentaries and indie films — but everyone, and I mean everyone, said I had to see it. Why? Because I was told by friends and also the entire Internet that it’s the best Christmas movie of all time! Better than “A Christmas Story”! Better than “A Charlie Brown Christmas”! Better than “Love Actually” ! It simply isn’t Christmas without watching “Die Hard”!
Well, I watched “Die Hard.” And I hate to break it to you, but that is not a Christmas movie. Not even close.
First, let’s review some of the common characteristics of Christmas movies, along with examples.
- Charming, adorable and mischievous children. (See: “Home Alone,” “A Christmas Story,” “Love Actually.”)
- True love, especially if it’s unrequited love finally realized or comes from an unlikely place (See: “The Holiday,” “Love Actually,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary”)
- Family drama (See: “Four Christmases,” “Home Alone,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” “A Christmas Story.”)
- Lots of Christmas decorations or traditions which feature prominently in the movie. (See: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Home Alone,” “A Christmas Story,” “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” The Muppet Christmas Carol.”)
And most importantly of all:
- The protagonist learns a valuable lesson about love/life/romance/humanity/the true meaning of Christmas. (See: “Scrooge,” “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Four Christmas,” “Bridget Jones Diary,” “Love Actually,” “A Christmas Story.”)
“Die Hard” does have some of these elements. [Spoilers ahead, if you, like me, are the last person on Earth to not have seen this movie.] John McClane and Holly Gennaro have some cute kids who get five minutes on screen. John and Holly are having marital problems, which causes family drama. There are some Christmas decorations at Holly’s office holiday party. And at the very end, Holly learns a valuable lesson about how her husband is a stone cold bad-ass and our hearts are supposed to melt when she no longer wants to use her maiden name professionally anymore.
But sadly for diehard “Die Hard” fans out there, these few examples are not enough. Because as much as “Die Hard” admittedly has some common characteristics of Christmas movies, there’s a wealth of examples that counter and erase them:
- Christmas movies don’t have terrorists in them. Or burglars. Or whatever those nasty guys are.
- Christmas movies don’t have machine guns. They also don’t have one character writing “Now I have a machine gun, Ho Ho Ho” IN A CHARACTER’S BLOOD.
- Christmas movies don’t threaten the nanny with a phone call to immigration services.
- Christmas movies don’t have bombs.
- Christmas movies don’t have brothers getting killed, even if they’re bad-guy brothers.
- And last but not least, no one should get their brains blown out in a Christmas movie.
It’s time to face the truth, “Die Hard” fans. The movie may take place at a Christmas party, star the loveable dad from “Family Matters” and Alan Rickman — who was also in certified-Christmas movie “Love Actually” — and all of these may seem like reasons it’s a Christmas movie.
But really, “Die Hard” is just an action movie that happens to be set around Christmas.
Email me at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter.