JOEY SEMEL, Editor-in-Chief—Ah. Break is coming. Time to chill. Get away from tests and papers for a while. See the old gang. But the very best part? Jumping on the couch with a bowl of your favorite snack and a glass of your favorite beverage and watching Christmas movies with the family.
It’s a Wonderful Life. Miracle on 34th Street. A Christmas Story. Tim Allen’s Oscar-worthy performances in The Santa Clause trilogy.
They’re all great. And they get you into the Christmas spirit.
But there’s one that tops them all. It’s the greatest Christmas movie of all time.
I know what you’re thinking: Does he mean the movie with America’s favorite bad-ass John McClane? Is he talking about the one with the high death count and the terrorist plot led by Hans Gruber? That Die Hard?
Well… yes. That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
It’s the greatest movie of all time, and you’re darn right it’s a Christmas movie
Think about every Christmas movie you’ve ever seen. They all have the same elements, right? Based on extensive research taken place across my almost 21 years watching movies, a Christmas movie requires three major things: It takes place around Christmas, viewers – and the main characters – all learn a valuable and poignant life’s lesson and the plot is oriented around family.
Die Hard unmistakably meets those criteria.
If you’ve never seen it, I will summarize the plot with as few spoilers as I can. It’s Christmas Eve and McClane heads to Los Angeles to see his estranged family. His wife has taken a fancy job with a big multinational development company and brought the kids with her. He’s a New York City police officer — who as we learn throughout, is really really good at his job but kind of a hot head.
So, there’s Element One. It’s Christmas Eve, setting the scene right at Christmas.
Element Two is just as clear. We have a parent who just wants to make it to L.A. in time to spend Christmas with his family. But in order to do so, he must overcome some obstacles. Sounds just like every Hallmark Christmas movie so far. Except in this movie, the “obstacle” is a desperate band of terrorists with automatic weapons and explosives.
As McClane arrives at his wife’s workplace (Nakatomi Plaza), we quickly learn that in the professional world, she has been going by her maiden name: Holly Gennaro, and not her married one: Holly McClane. (I mean c’mon… we even have a main character named Holly. This movie just screams Christmas.)
Which brings us to Element Three. John learns what every single main character learns in the cheesy Hallmark movies: Family comes first, and you do whatever it takes to be with family.
We learn that John wouldn’t move from New York to Los Angeles because he had unfinished cases in New York. As a result, they grew apart. Yet, as John is killing terrorist after terrorist, he realizes the only reason he is really doing it is to get his family back together. He just wants to spend Christmas with his wife and kids. Sound familiar?
So there you have it. We have every single aspect of a Christmas movie. Just with more death, explosions and comeuppance than a typical Hallmark flick.
To drive the point home, let’s talk about the other Christmas references throughout the movie. We already mentioned the fact that a main character’s name is Holly, but there are so many more.
The whole movie takes place during the office Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza. Christmas music plays throughout: Sergeant Al Powell sings “Let it Snow” before he is roped into the action and “Ode to Joy” comes back time and time again. McLane’s driver, Argyle, plays “Christmas time in Hollis” on the ride to Nakatomi Plaza.
Beyond the music, McClane makes his own holiday references. When he wants to let Hans know he’s still around, he writes “I have a machine gun now… Ho Ho Ho” in blood on a dead terrorist’s sweatshirt. He also puts a Santa hat on the guy.
Finally, in the last major scene of the film, John uses Christmas-themed wrapping paper to tape a gun to his back.
There’s just too much here to deny it. If you’ve never seen Die Hard before, I recommend you do it this holiday season.