Every year it seems the same debate continues to divide families, threaten friendships, and call the very nature of the holiday season into question: IS DIE HARD A CHRISTMAS MOVIE?
Die Hard, in case you are new to the culture and traditions of the United States, is the story of New York City cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) visiting his estranged wife Holly (Bonnie Bedelia) at her office Christmas party in Los Angeles. But before the employees of Nakatomi Industries can even start their Yankee Swap, the building is taken hostage by a band of German terrorists led by the dapper, soft-spoken Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).
Though the movie came out way back in 1988, it’s only been since around the turn of the century that its fans have been aggressively advocating for its inclusion in the Christmas canon, and its detractors have been insisting that it is just an action movie set at Christmas.
We can’t stand to see this issue tearing our country apart any longer, so using highly scientific methods and Google, we have determined then ten characteristics of a great Christmas movie; below we will rate how Die Hard scores in each category and add up the scores; the great Christmas movies have all scored 80 or higher.
When Die Hard begins, McClane is arriving in Los Angeles in hopes of reconciling with his estranged wife with a giant teddy bear under his arm, presumably a gift for one of their two children. When Holly (pretty Christmasy name there btw) and her coworkers are first kidnapped, she quickly puts a family portrait face-down in an effort to protect the missing John, and when John meets Hans Gruber, he likewise pretends that he didn’t know anyone at the party in order to protect Holly. And when beat cop (Reginald VelJohnson) Al Powell asks McClane if he has any kids, McClane’s voice softens considerably when he answers, “yeah, two.” If you want more sentiment than that, you’d best call in Jane Austen. 7/10
McClane’s professed love of Roy Rogers, a TV cowboy from the 1950s, positively drips with longing for a bygone era. Also, when Al tells McClane about how he accidentally shot a kid holding a toy gun, he is telling a story about something that happened in the past. That’s what nostalgia is, right? 6/10
In addition to the marital difficulty and ultimate reconciliation of John and Holly mentioned above, just look how upset Karl (Alexander Godunov) gets when McClane manages to kill his brother Tony. Sure, Karl and Tony probably had their differences, but at the end of the day, they’re family! And when all is said and done, McClane takes care to reunite them. A Christmas Miracle! 9/10
I mentioned the big teddy bear, right? Also, Holly gets a nice watch from her boss that John later thoughtfully regifts to Hans by unclasping it while Hans is using it to not fall 40 stories to his death. To give is truly better than to receive. 8/10
Nakatomi Plaza is appropriately decorated for the holidays, and McClane gets into the spirit himself when he decorates Franco (the first terrorist he kills) by putting a Santa hat on him and writing “Now I Have A Machine Gun, Ho-Ho-Ho” on his chest. 8/10
“God bless us, every one.” “You’ll shoot your eye out.” “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup.” These are all great, memorable lines, and they all bow to the catchphrase supremacy of “Yippee-Ki-Yay, Motherf—er!” 10/10
I believe we already covered Franco’s “Now I have a machine gun” sweatshirt. What more do you need? 8/10
Die Hard has at least three times as many explosions as Miracle on 34th St, It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, Christmas Vacation, or Home Alone. We counted. 10/10
It’s just not Christmas without a group of German terrorists staging an elaborate kidnapping and ransom demand as a way to trick the FBI into cutting power to an office building in order to disable the electromagnetic lock on the basement vault, thus allowing said Germans to steal the $640 million in negotiable bearer bonds inside. 10/10
Total score: 86
Die Hard is a Christmas movie — science says so. And you can watch it right now if you have Cinemax.