With all the things going on in Washington this week – Senate voting on the Paul Ryan Postcard Tax Plan; a fight over who is heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Michael Flynn’s attorneys notifying Donald Trump’s that they are no longer on the same team; Harry and Meghan getting engaged; (not to mention bringing Ringo into the Roy Moore controversy) – it turns out the most tweeted about topic this morning was: is “Die Hard” truly a Christmas movie?
My answer to @TheRickWilson (paraphrased here) was: well, yeah!
In fact, I am going to say this may be the most quintessential depiction of a U.S. Christmas, perhaps even nudging out “A Christmas Story” for that honor.
First, the hero of the story, NYPD Detective John McClane, is living every Snowbird’s Christmas dream: going somewhere warm for the holiday. In McClane’s case, it is to Los Angeles for a tense reconciliation with his family, who has decamped there so his wife, Holly, can pursue her corporate dreams.
See, already this movie is about retirees, palm trees, a broken family, women in the workplace and Hollywood. How much more Americans at Christmas can it get?
Plenty. Holly – in feminist representation using her last name Gennero – is working for a multinational corporation called Nakatomi. Now mind you, this is a nearly 30 year-old movie dealing with trade issues Trump loves to rail about today. How au currant as well. Not only does this Japanese company own a primo location in L.A., it also has a state of the art, computer controlled vault holding $640 million in corporate bearer bonds. So now we know how the trade deficit got started.
Anyway, McClane is invited to the ubiquitous company Christmas party; you know, the one we’ve all been to where someone has a little too much to drink, some hanky-panky takes place (all consensual, of course) and the most obnoxious guy in the office thinks he is the hottest property there. And McClane gets there in a private limo, the driver of which waits on him down in the garage, listening to hip hop and tending a giant Teddy Bear (see – Teddy Bears are for Christmas and Valentine’s only, everyone knows that!)
Enter the bad guys, bearing enough military hardware to capture a school yard or a small town held by ISIS, take your pick. Now you have a Christmas movie perfectly plotted for the NRA and military buffs.
For those who love their John Wayne movies, in this Christmas movie, our John goes solo Green Barefoot Beret with a handgun and a T-shirt that – over the course of the movie – will never be Clorox clean again. I believe this is a Christmas nod to all the mothers who have tried in vain to get the grass stains out of the football uniforms, soccer jerseys, tennis whites, etc.
Again, this movie is so prescient of our times. The leader of the bad guys turns out to be German – in other words, Trump’s vision of Angela Merkel as leader of the free world and NATO. Unlike Trump, Hans Gruber is a master negotiator of all sorts of transactions during this movie: bathroom breaks, couches for pregnant women about to deliver, the quick demise of the Nakatomi Chairman. McClane, who was watching, gives his position away (sorry, I don’t think John Wayne ever did that, Bruce-it’s more like a Roy Rogers move). Then, McClane is chased by Tony, the Viking blond brother of Karl, a maniac played by ballet star Alexander Godunov because, I guess, Baryshnikov was busy starring in “The Nutcracker” back in old snowy New York. Remember, this is a CHRISTMAS movie.
Anyway, McClane kills Tony and sends him down the elevator dressed in a Santa Hat and wrapped in Christmas packing tape…ho, ho, ho this movie has presents delivered down a shaft! Not quite a chimney, but close enough for our purposes. The plot twist – the C-4 and detonators Hans brought with him to add fireworks to the party have been captured by McClane.
Meanwhile, in side stories, we have a Twinkie loving cop with a pregnant wife who gets called to respond to “shots fired” at the Nakatomi building. There is also a ruthless reporter (imagine either Anderson Cooper or Tucker Carlson, depending on whether you are conservative or liberal) trying to get “the story” going on at Nakatomi by any means necessary, despite the fact that his editors think it may be “fake news.”
Whew. This is really a Christmas movie for our times, isn’t it? It’s even got the FBI in it! Of course, they end up going down in flames – hopefully our present day agents will have a better fate when the Mueller investigation runs its course.
Where was I? Okay, obnoxious guy who thinks he is a genius negotiator gets killed by Hans when he can’t convince McClane to hand over the C-4 and detonators (see, a Christmas movie both Antifa and Neo Nazis can love!) Hans and McClane face off, with Hans trying to pretend he is an escaped hostage.
In the spirit of Christmas giving, McClane gives Hans a gun which Hans uses to try to shoot McClane except – whoops, it has no bullets! You know, like the toys you give the kids and forget to buy batteries to go with them.
McClane figures out Hans is going to kill the hostages by taking them to the roof and exploding it, giving the impression the bad guys have died when in fact Hans expects them to escape with the bearer bonds they finally have gotten hold of. Meanwhile, Hans has made his way back down to the party to watch the TV news and learns that Holly is – gasp – a McClane, not a Gennero at all! See, feminism only gets you so far, and then they figure out you’re married after all – and that makes you vulnerable all of a sudden and easy to use as cover against the cop husband holding a machine gun.
McClane – who in the interim has managed to kill Karl, or so he thinks – gives up the machine gun but has cleverly Christmas taped a gun between his shoulders. That one present you didn’t know you needed but were so glad to get.
He shoots the remaining bad guys, including Hans, who starts to fall out a window but grabs Holly by her Christmas bonus Rolex, threatening to take her with him, until McClane unlocks the clasp and Hans falls flailing through the air with Holly’s watch. Women never get paid what they are worth.
So, all seems to be saved. Holly and John have patched things up when Karl comes charging out of the building to kill McClane but is instead shot by our Twinkie loving cop because who doesn’t want one of those in their Christmas stocking in case of emergency? Holly reclaims her last name in a nod to those women who take their husband’s names as their own and punches the bad reporter in the nose – something I keep expecting Sarah Huckabee Sanders to do any day now. (P.S. Notice how Sarah kept her old name and took a new one? Maybe Holly should have thought of that.)
So there you have it – the quintessential movie that has presents for everyone. How can it not be called a Christmas movie?
Ralphie and his bunny suit just don’t compare.