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Saturday, December 24, 2011

In Defense of Die Hard as a Christmas Movie

When people think of their favorite Christmas movies, Die Hard is rarely high on the list. Most think of your typical bringing the family together movies. The typical movie swarmed with Christmas jingles. The typical story of hope, and triumph against all odds movies. So what does Die Hard have that can call it a Christmas movie, besides the obvious notion that it takes place on Christmas Eve? The answer: all of the above.


Almost every Die Hard movie is also a triumph over the odds, as is any good suspense or action movie. It should go without saying that McClane is put in danger after danger - and each subsequent movie, despite getting a little older, he's still competent enough (and lucky enough) to survive the obstacles, despite most often thinking on his feet and not really planning things out. The internet speaks volumes of Bruce Willis' inability to die; joke promos for the 2013 Die Hard in the works often have the slogan "Die Hard: Just Die Already."

And of course, what would a Christmas movie be without holiday music? The action can easily overshadow the soundtrack a bit, but the movie features Christmas sounds and tunes all over, from sleigh bells in orchestral cues to overtly using "Winter Wonderland." The limousine driver Argyle plays Run-D.M.C.'s "Christmas in Hollis," a 1987 Christmas single, and later the same character is listening to Stevie Wonder's "Skeletons."

With all of the action and drama, it's also hard to remember that Bruce Willis' character, John McClane, is only in the area during the events of Die Hard because he wanted to use the holidays as a way to patch things up with his wife, Holly, and their kids. And while this moment is overlooked for a little while, the movie does not allow us to forget; the main villain Gruber uses her as a hostage against McClane - and successfully so. In response to Holly's danger, McClane drops his machine gun on the ground (albeit, he uses another gun taped to his back moments later, but the gesture stands).

So in many ways, Die Hard has everything a good Christmas movie needs. Barring Bruce Willis spouting off the True Meaning of Christmas, I would say it stands with the Christmas classics quite well - and the action makes it way more fun to watch anyway.

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