Every year around November, December, and July, networks start playing their Christmas movie lineups. Inevitably, Home Alone makes the list, Die Hard does not. But if people consider violent, sadistic Home Alone as Christmas cannon, why not Die Hard?
If you find you have the argument with a loved one, grinchy douche bag, or both each year about “whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie,” here is how Home Alone proves you’re right.
On the flip side, I suppose it could also prove you wrong.
What the hell is a Christmas movie anyway?
Let’s start with the basics. Do you even know what a Christmas movie is? Does anyone?
Here’s the thing: Christmas movie is not a genre. It’s not even a subgenre or category of movie.
At least not technically yet.
But don’t take my word for it. Some uppity sounding site, aptly named filmsite, has a breakdown of every genre, subgenre, and “other” category. According to their chart, Christmas movie does not appear anywhere out of 36 identified categories. Before you say the list just isn’t complete, recognized categories include:
- chick flick
- guy film
- cult film
- Melodrama, Women’s, or “Weeper” film
If humorless filmsite doesn’t recognize “Christmas movie” as at least an “other category,” than it must not be an actual, recognized film category.
That’s all well and good, but popular culture disagrees. And we come back full circle, what is a Christmas movie? One of the best interpretations I’ve seen comes from Hollywood Reporter that argues a movie is a Christmas movie if the story includes:
the meaningful use of Christmas in their storytelling. In a full-fledged Christmas movie, some aspect of the season informs our experience of the story in a significant way. Since Christmas can instantly lend meaning to so many points on the emotional spectrum, a Christmas movie’s overall tone can be romantic or playful, poignant or satirical.The Hollywood Reporter
By that and similar definitions, both Home Alone and Die Hard use Christmas in a meaningful way throughout their story. Therefore, both are Christmas movies.
But here’s more on how and why they are Christmas movies.
1) Both take place around Christmas
Home Alone takes place in the last few days leading up to Christmas. In fact, he sadistically bludgeons the Wet Bandits on Christmas Eve. If you stop and think about it, that’s pretty messed up. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like burning some dude’s head with a butane torch or shoving a nail through someone’s foot.
Die Hard also takes place during the Christmas season. Specifically, it occurs during the company’s Christmas office party. And it too features beating the life out of hapless bad guys for some good old Christmas style fun.
2) How many Christmas songs are on Die Hard and Home Alone’s soundtracks?
An important, often overlooked aspect of defining a Christmas movie, is looking at the sound track of a movie. How many Christmas songs does the movie have?
Home Alone’s original motion picture soundtrack contained 10 definitive Christmas songs. In fact, most of the songs are Christmas oriented.
Die Hard has 5 definitive Christmas songs, with two additional classic songs, like Ode to Joy, that can be used during Christmas. If you only count the five songs, half the songs on Die Hard’s soundtrack are Christmas songs.
Both Home Alone and Die Hard play Christmas songs throughout the movies. And both used Christmas songs to fill out the majority of their soundtrack.
If Die Hard’s 5 out of 10 songs doesn’t convince you, consider this fun fact. White Christmas, literally containing “Christmas” and figuratively Christmas imagery in the damn title, only contains 1 Christmas song out of 10.
One. Let that sink in you Die Hard doubting pricks.
3) Die Hard and Home Alone contain Christmas imagery
Just about every scene in Home Alone contained some nod to Christmas, even as he mercilessly attacked the hapless home invaders. Hell, the whole house is decorated in red, green, and gold. And it’s a fucking death trap for dogs with the number of poinsettias they have scattered throughout the house.
Die Hard also has quite a few Christmas oriented imagery. The Christmas party, random décor in the building, music, Tony’s blood stained shirt, and so on.
4) Both needed Christmas to advance the plot
If you think about it, both Home Alone and Die Hard needed Christmas to advance the plot.
In Home Alone, the Christmas season presents the perfect opportunity for the Wet Bandits to rob the McCallistor’s house. The family and “half the families on the block” are all away for the holidays, leaving the street pretty empty.
In Die Hard, a relaxed Christmas season is also needed to advance the plot. Hans Gruber’s team needed a few things for their plan to work. One, they needed relaxed security to get into the building quickly and easily. Two, they needed some top execs to be there after hours. When better than an after-hours Christmas party to stage the ultimate heist?
Sure, you could argue that either movie could take place other times of year. One could argue Home Alone could happen over summer break when lots of people travel and the family could just as easily travel to Paris for a summer vacation.
But what about Die Hard? When else during the year could the robbers count on an after hours party? Especially one where some higher up execs would also attend? Far less likely.
In other words, Home Alone doesn’t necessarily need Christmas, but Die Hard does for the plot to work.
5) Die Hard and Home Alone both contain Santa (well sort of)
In Home Alone, Kevin visits a disgruntled, surly Santa. Sure, the Santa he visits is alive, maybe not well, but certainly alive. But he is not exactly very Santa like.
Die Hard also features a Santa. If you are familiar with the movie at all, you know the first criminal (Tony Vreski) McClane kills, he also dresses up as Santa. He even gives him a friendly holiday message to deliver to Hans Gruber:
“Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.”
Sending a cheerful Christmas message to someone is about as holiday as you can get.
6) McClane’s wife has a Christmas name ala Hallmark Christmas Movie tradition
Ever watch a Hallmark Christmas movie? Yeah, I have. I have watched most, if not all of them. Some of them repeatedly.
Do you know one detail they and almost all other very Christmas oriented shows, like Dash and Lily, have in common?
They name their perky characters Christmas-y names like Holly, Joy, Chris, Nick, and so on.
And just like one of those illustrious movies, John’s estranged wife is named Holly, which pretty much screams Christmas.
Doe Home Alone feature any Christmas reminiscent names? Kate, Peter, Harry, Kevin, and Marv. No. No Christmas-y names there.
7) Die Hard beats Home Alone for viewers during the Christmas season
Need more proof?
According to Dish, more viewers watched Die Hard than Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, and The Santa Clause, making it the 10th most watched movie on Christmas Eve.
Of course, the real question here is how many people actually watch tv on Dish.
8) Both movies feature a snowy end
What do all movie producers and writers think of when they think Christmas? That’s right. Snow!
Both Die Hard and Home Alone feature snowy endings. In the suburbs of Chicago where Kevin lives, the odds are pretty good it could snow on or near Christmas. In LA, where Die Hard took place, snow is very unlikely any time of year, including Christmas.
This makes the Die Hard snow scene a Christmas miracle compared to the snow in Home Alone.
9) Home Alone is as violent as Die Hard
I’ll leave the list with one final piece of evidence. Home Alone is a pretty violent movie. He easily would have killed the Wet Bandits several times over in a more gritty version of the film.
What kind of little monster comes up with the concept to booby trap their house to catch two incompetent criminals? I guess every 90’s kid after Home Alone came out, but before that, who?
In some ways, Die Hard is no more violent than Home Alone. But because it is not “family oriented,” Die Hard’s violence is frowned upon. But I say, if you can watch two grown men be tortured on Christmas Eve to get you into the spirit of the season, why not watch a group of criminals die one by one?
The counter argument
There is one argument that dissenters to Die Hard being a Christmas movie cling to. And that is, Business Insider reported that Bruce Willis stated that Die Hard is a “goddamn Bruce Willis movie” not a Christmas movie.
But is it though? Seems he may just be another actor out of touch with the reality of his work in the greater world. I mean he did sign up to do several more sequels to Die Hard than ever really should have happened? Yes, yes he did. At least they replaced Kevin after two Home Alone movies. Just saying…
Where can you watch either movie?
Ready to watch Home Alone or Die Hard but don’t have a copy available in your personal collection. Both movies were Fox properties before Disney gave them something they couldn’t refuse: money.
Home Alone streams on Disney Plus because its violence is family friendly.
Die Hard, though also Disney now, doesn’t fit their “family” friendly agenda. You should be able to rent it, buy it, or stream it on Google, Amazon, or your favorite streaming service.