Proof That ‘Die Hard’ Was the First Hallmark Christmas Movie
’Tis the season for thousands upon thousands of hours of made-for-TV, aspartame sweet Christmas movies to come pouring out of Hallmark’s Eggnog funnel directly into our holiday-bonging mouths.
It’s an inescapable black hole of plush scarves, hot cocoa runs with clearly empty cups, and white dudes with perfectly imperfect facial hair just trying to get that stressed out ad executive from the big city to slow down for a minute and enjoy their quaint little town while they’re stranded due to car trouble/flight delays/Santa or Angels or…something(?).
As a giant fan of horror movies, I can totally relate to finding comfort in all the old, requisite characters and archetypes.
In short, I can’t fault anyone for loving Hallmark Channel’s Christmas (*Author’s notes: HCMs) movies, nor for using them as a king of holiday white noise while they’re putting up decorations or fantasizing about warm weather.
But all of this holiday contemplation did get me thinking about my all-time favorite Christmas movie: Die Hard. And, yes, it’s a Christmas movie, so just get that debate out of the way right now.
With the established and unimpeachable fact now handled, we can move forward.
So, ladies and gentleman of the jury, allow me to prove to you that Die Hard is, in fact, the template upon which all Hallmark Christmas Movies are based.
1. The plot must take place on/around Christmas
I don’t really need to explain this one to you. Die Hard is a slam dunk. From the music to the decor to “It’s Christmas, Theo. It’s the time of Miracles.” to the lifeless corpse of a henchman wearing a Santa hat with Ho-ho-ho literally written on his lifeless body. Check this one off.
2. The plot should revolve around one or more of the love interests being out of their element/usual environment.
Whether it’s the Prince, pretending to be a New Yorker to get away from the rigidity of his royal life, or a New York fashion mogul that suddenly finds themselves helping to clean out reindeer stalls in a quaint Alaskan town, every good HCM has someone who feels incredibly out of place to start the movie.
Cue grizzled, hard-boiled, East coast, blue collar John McClane feeling out of his element in sunny California and at the white-collar big-money Christmas bash at Nakatomi Plaza.
3. Old Flames Dying Hard Due to Unusual Circumstances
Whether it’s an old/first love, an ex that never should have been left behind, or the one that got away, many Hallmark Christmas Movies have a rekindled romance — a spark turning to flame — happening on screen right before our eyes.
Don’t you agree John and Holly McClane who are kind-of-divorced-but-still-together-and-who-realize-through-insane-circumstances-just-how-much-they-need-one-another.
4. Not so subtle message: greed is very bad
All HCMs love to hammer home the message that money is the root of all evil and that greed will never triumph in the hearts and souls of the little people who still remember the “true meaning” of Christmas. They routinely feature corporate villains, bosses only concerned with the bottom line, and moneygrubbing executives constantly looking to power-move some shopping mall into a Christmas Tree farm.
Sound familiar, Hans Gruber?
Slick. Impeccably groomed. Cold blooded. Driven purely by financial motives. The main difference is that he is totes cool with straight up murdering anyone who stands in the way of his financial heist. Hans Gruber checks all the boxes.
5. There should be a gratuitous callback to an old Christmas tradition/tale. You know, in case you forgot about #1 on the list
In most HCMs this is readily apparent by the constant and never-occurring-in-real-life Christmas carolers who will show up at opportune times to serenade the love interests with “Silent Night” or “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.
In the case of Die Hard, it’s the legendary monologue by Theo, the criminal hacker who narrates the inept raid of Nakatomi tower by the LA SWAT team, which I will reproduce here, because I can’t seem to find any YouTube videos that do it justice (*Author’s note: which pains me to no end.)
Alright, listen up guys. ’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring — except for the four assholes coming in the rear in standard two-by-two cover formation.
6. A smarmy, grossly corporate boyfriend/would-be lover hinders the central love plot between our protagonists
In HCMs this isn’t necessarily a requisite, but you see it often. The heroine usually finds out that her workaholic boyfriend/fiancee is leaving her days before she’s supposed to go home for Christmas, only to have him show up at her family’s doorstep begging for forgiveness on Christmas Eve, or something to that effect.
And, damn, if only we knew of a gross, corporate bag of douche that very loosely inserts himself into the same narrative in Die Hard.
7. Conflict. Lots of conflict.
In most HCMs the level of conflict is typically on a smaller scale
“Will their Christmas float win the local parade and save the local bakery when it gets the $10,000 prize?”
“Will Bruce Willis be able to choke this giant German monster out before he loses his grip?”
“Will she learn to slow down and appreciate the smaller things in life before she’s old and miserable in her Manhattan Penthouse?”
“Is the entire Nakatomi tower going to blow up with hostages stuck on the roof before Bruce Willis can swing through a glass window with his bare feet and dispose of the detonators?”
But, whether it’s winning the Fir Grove Hot Cocoa Contest or dropping Hans out of a 50-story-high window, there will be some precarious moments in both.
(*Author’s note: I’m sure I’ve missed a few other connections between HCMs and Die Hard. So hit up the comments and let me know.)