This isn’t a “hot take”. The pulpy action romp laced with hyper-testosterone and automatic rifles-as-the-phallus bits that is “Die Hard” is not a Christmas movie.
There are legitimate works that rightfully take that categorization—from the most positively basic (“It’s A Wonderful Life”) to delightful pint-sized Holiday bits (“Home Alone”)—but, world, John McTiernan’s 1988 cult favorite is not.
It’s not a Christmas movie in the same way that Todd Hayne’s “Carol” is a legitimate Christmas movie. At least in that film, you’re gifted with a sight of a Christmas tree. That’s it, isn’t it? “Carol” is objectively a Christmas movie—the title is literally carol, don’t you see? Lol.
O.K., maybe there’s that Santa hat in that one scene. I’ll give it that. But still…
“Die Hard” not a Christmas movie in the same way every cash-grab MMFF film are truly Christmas movies in spirit, which is to say to rob you of your hard-earned money. Christmas, after all, is a wholly capitalist construct much like Halloween. No need to wallow in that. Christmas is great. Great because when we’re lucky we get rare moments in Philippine cinema where a haunted Christmas tree devours a horrified John Lapus (exactly what happened in “Shake Rattle & Roll 9“).
You see, “Die Hard” is not a Christmas movie in the same way that “Silent Night, Deadly Night” is a Christmas movie. That movie is truly a gift. Every year it gets trashier and trashier. It’s amazing. Or maybe “Die Hard” is exactly a Christmas movie in that very same way?
The point is, “Die Hard” was never a Christmas movie, and it will never be a true Christmas movie. The discussion that sparked was ridiculous then, and ridiculous now. It became a movie you watch during the Holidays because McTiernan made it so damn easy to watch by anyone without feeling honky as a whole.
And maybe that’s enough. Maybe we need more non-Christmas movies like “Die Hard”.
Elsewhere, people are petitioning Leigh Whannel’s “Upgrade” become a non-Christmas movie in the same way that “Die Hard” is a non-Christmas movie. Some are even offering to make a cut that adds computer-generated trees, garlands, and lights to force-set the movie during Christmas. Some are thinking of doing the same cut for “Die Hard”. Don’t do it. It’s perfect as it is.