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Unexpected Christmas Movies

Bruce Willis, Die Hard

What Christmas movie involves a New York cop, a dozen buff, blonde German terrorists and enough colorful catchphrases to last you till the new year? I’m talking, of course, about DIE HARD (1988). If you don’t remember DIE HARD as a Christmas movie you’re probably not alone, but not only does it take place on Christmas Eve, feature a dead guy in a Santa Hat with the words “Ho-Ho-Ho” written across his chest, but it ends with “Let it Snow” playing as an LA hi-rise burns down courtesy of greatest American hero, John McClane. True, it’s not exactly your standard holiday fare, though at its core, I suppose, it’s about a family reuniting against all odds at Christmastime. While that’s what makes DIE HARD a legitimate holiday flick, it’s one of my favorite movies any time of year for a host of other reasons. One of the key elements a movie needs to qualify it as a true member of the action genre is, number one, lots of running and number two, a hero that pushes himself past the point of physical exhaustion – and then some. Not only does Bruce Willis qualify on both counts, but he tops it by being the most likable and human hero I’ve ever seen (take that Oedipus). Unlike other action movies, every stunt he pulls is believable, and not just because there’s no CGI, but because, like a real person, he doubts and questions himself the whole way through. And maybe most importantly, DIE HARD never takes itself too seriously. This is the downfall of so many action movies, but McClane makes jokes even when his feet are full of glass and he’s about to get blown off a rooftop. And don’t tell me Alan Rickman doesn’t know how silly his German accent sounds.

I doubt that people will start making it a part of their yearly family tradition any time soon (something I have instituted this year with my own family), but when you’ve seen just about all the reruns of A CHRISTMAS STORY you can take and you just can’t do IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE again, let me suggest adding DIE HARD to the Christmas queue. Nothing instigates family bonding like a bungled hostage situation saved by a shirtless, gun-Bruce Willis. I guarantee your mom will be shouting “Yippee ki-yay” instead of Merry Christmas in no time.