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Is 'Die Hard' A Christmas Movie? We Settle the Debate Once and for All

As the holiday season approaches, it's time finally come to a conclusion.

Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? This question has sparked countless debates, passionate arguments, and humorous memes over the years. The annual back-and-forth is always fun and has become something of a Christmas tradition in and of itself.

As the holiday season approaches, it's time to delve into this debate once again and attempt to come to a conclusion. Let's unwrap the points for and against Die Hard being a Christmas movie.

Setting the Scene

Die Hard is undoubtedly a classic action movie. It's a rollercoaster of explosions, gunfire, and Bruce Willis being Bruce Willis. However, what sets it apart from other action flicks is the backdrop - a corporate Christmas party held in Nakatomi Plaza. With twinkling lights, Santa hats, and even some carolers sprinkled throughout the film, it's hard to deny the Christmas ambiance.

The Case for Die Hard as a Christmas Movie

Bonnie Bedelia is held down by Bruce Willis in a scene from the film 'Die Hard', 1988.

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To make a case for Die Hard being a Christmas movie, one might argue that Christmas is more than just the decorations and festivities. It's about the values it represents, like love, family, and goodwill. In Die Hard, John McClane's determination to save his estranged wife and thwart the terrorists can be seen as an embodiment of these values. At its core, Die Hard is about a man redeeming himself and restoring his fractured family during the holidays. His redemption arc can be compared to classic Christmas antiheroes like Ebenezer Scrooge, The Santa Clause's Scott Calvin, or even Elf's workaholic father, Walter.

Additionally, the film's plot revolves around a Christmas party gone horribly wrong. The holiday setting drives some key moments, like McClane writing, "Now I have a machine gun, ho-ho-ho" on a dead terrorist's sweater. It's hard to ignore these undeniably Christmas-y moments.

The Counterargument

Now, let's play devil's advocate. A Christmas movie, in the traditional sense, typically centers around the holiday itself. These movies celebrate the spirit of Christmas, focusing on themes like generosity, forgiveness, and the magic of the season.

In Die Hard, the Christmas setting is the backdrop — not the central theme. The core of the movie is the action-packed battle between John McClane and the terrorists. While there are moments that evoke the spirit of the season, it doesn't drive the narrative in the same way as classic Christmas films. Indeed, McClane redeems himself and mends his family, but it isn't the magic of Christmas that does it — it's his sheer grit, determination, and seemingly endless supply of ammunition. Pick up Die Hard and plop it into any other season, and you've got the same film with a different coat of paint. A true Christmas film will collapse without the Christmas elements.

Comparing Die Hard to Classic Christmas Movies

1946: American actor James Stewart (1908 - 1997) as George Bailey, hugs actor Karolyn Grimes, who plays Zuzu his daughter, in a still from director Frank Capra's Christmas classic film, 'It's a Wonderful Life'.

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To further dissect this debate, let's compare Die Hard to some other classic Christmas movies. Take It's a Wonderful Life, for example. This film is steeped in the true essence of Christmas, emphasizing the importance of compassion and the impact one person can have on a community. But it also has a Guardian Angel visit our wayward and suicidal George Bailey on Christmas Eve. Without this divine intervention, our man George goes over the railing of that bridge, and the story ends there.

On the other hand, Die Hard merely takes place at Christmas time. If McClane had, say, called in an airstrike and Santa came ho-ho-hoing over Nakatomi Plaza in a sleigh fitted with cruise missiles earmarked for all the naughty terrorists on his list, then the Christmas elements would be integral to the plot. But as it stands, the Christmas decorations are just that: decorations.

The Slippery Slope of Defining Christmas Movies

One challenge in defining Christmas movies is that it can become a slippery slope. If we accept Die Hard as a Christmas movie, where do we draw the line? Can any movie set during the Christmas season be considered a Christmas movie?

If we expand the definition too broadly, we risk diluting the charm and significance of classic Christmas films. These movies hold a special place in our hearts because they transport us to a world where the holiday spirit is tangible. Die Hard, in contrast, is more of an action thriller with a Christmas seasoning.

Conclusion: Die Hard is Not a Christmas Movie

Bruce Willis with cigarette in a scene from the film 'Die Hard', 1988.

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After carefully weighing the evidence, we cannot in good conscience say that Die Hard meets the criteria for a bonafide Christmas movie. While it uses Christmas as a backdrop, the heart of the film lies in its action-packed storyline, not in celebrating the holiday's core values.

In the end, whether you choose to watch Die Hard as part of your holiday tradition or reserve it for a different movie night, the most important thing is to enjoy it. After all, the holiday season is about coming together and sharing experiences, whether you're sitting by the fire with a hot cup of cocoa or watching Bruce Willis take down a terrorist organization.

Where is Die Hard Streaming?

Die Hard is currently streaming on Hulu, so you can binge Bruce in all his glory year round.

READ MORE: The 25 Best Romantic Christmas Movies To Get Cozy With Over The Holidays