Every year the same thing happens, with only minor variations on the theme:
YOU (I.E., THE ROYAL YOU): What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
ME: (ready for this) Die Hard.
Silence passes as You try to determine whether or not I am trolling you. For the record, I’m not.
YOU: No, really.
ME: Die Hard.
YOU: Doesn’t count, but whatever. What’s your real favorite Christmas movie?
ME: Die H—
YOU: (sighs) —never mind. Merry Christmas.
ME: And a festive yule to you.
YOU: Go to hell.
ME: Happy New Year*!
No, you never mind! No, you whatever! Die Hard (1988) counts as a Christmas movie. I’m not sure why you—again, that is the royal you—insist on not accepting that as an answer, but I think it is high time we talk about it a little bit.
Imagine if you will a movie about a prickly, even difficult protagonist. Through only his own misbehavior—and a few cell-phone less plot contrivances—he is now alone. And then, CRIME! And then, BOOBY TRAPS! And then, VICTORY FOR OUR HERO AND REUNION WITH THE FAMILY.
Quick, which movie is that? Die Hard? No, it’s Home Alone (1990)! Is anyone going to make the argument that Home Alone doesn’t qualify as a Christmas movie, when it’s plot is so indistinguishable from the loose sequel to the The Detective (1968)**, that I’d bet all of the money in my pocket, against all the money in your pockets*** that someone—presumably John Hughes—originally pitched the movie as Die Hard with a precocious kid.
Is that it? Is the reason that one film is a Christmas classic, and the other is “just an action movie” the fact that one stars a kid and the other merely stars the man who would one day sleepwalk his way through The Kid (2000)? Seems kind of dumb to me, but, as the royal you indicated above, “Whatever. Never mind.”
Except, no, not never mind. Not again. I give up the ghost on this argument every year. The line must be drawn here. This far; no further.
Come to think of it, Star Trek: First Contact (1996) is also not a bad candidate for a Christmas movie, because Christmas should be a time for movies that are great! That, however, is probably an argument for a different blog. A blog I may never write, and an argument I’m probably prepared to lose. Why do I know that argument is hopeless? Because First Contact doesn’t take place at Christmas.
You know what movie does take place at Christmas? That’s right…
Maybe I’m taking too hard of a stand here. It is Christmastime, after all. Peace on Earth; good will towards men and lady-people****. All that crap. This blog should be gentle and happy and nice. If there is any element of the “Is Die Hard a proper Christmas movie?” debate that really grates on my nerves, it is the insistence that the holidays have to fit in a pre-conceived package. If you’re with people you love, and you’re taking time out from the have-to’s of life to enjoy things for a moment, then that should count. I’m sitting with my wife and cat as I type this*****. It’s Christmas Eve and we’re watching Die Hard. We’ve watched it around Christmas every year since we’ve been together.
If not, I’ll just start claiming Batman Returns (1992) is my favorite Christmas movie. It’s entirely up to you.
*Fair warning. I may have some issues with Christmas that go beyond movie choices. I’m working on it. Kind of.
**Look it up. John McClane was originally played by Frank Sinatra. Fox was contractually obligated to offer Sinatra the role, but since he was already older than Methuselah by that point, they decided to make it unconnected with the other film. Then they wanted to make it into a loose sequel of Commando (1985), although screenwriter Steven E. de Souza disputes this. #themoreyouknow #nbcchimes
***Joke’s on you: I win either way.
****Santa screwed up that order so bad in 2016 that I’m getting tired of commenting on the general crappiness of the year.
*****Which, I suppose means that I’m not taking time off, but give me a break! I’m working on relaxing more. I’m not succeeding with any amount of frequency, but I am trying.