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"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."
December 22, 2012 6:59 PM   Subscribe

Why Die Hard is the best Christmas movie ever.
posted by Artw (159 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm glad I finally understand the True Meaning of Christmas.
posted by grouse at 7:07 PM on December 22, 2012


Some librarians (mostly UK but a few US) live-tweeted the synchronized viewing of Die Hard a week or so ago. Following the #libdh tweets was almost as enjoyable as watching the film.
posted by Wordshore at 7:09 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


That was adorable. Hans Gruber really is the Grinch!

When I was married, our annual holiday viewing tradition included When Harry Met Sally and Die Hard. My ex-husband chose the former, and I chose the latter.

I still watch it every year.
posted by Superplin at 7:11 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I didn't find his argument for Die Hard very convincing although his arguments for Robocop and Road House (neither of which I have seen) make a lot of sense to me. I see the Grinchly aspects of Hans Gruber but I don't think the movie as a whole really supports this analysis.

Also it can't be the best Christmas movie ever because it isn't Muppet Christmas Carol.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:12 PM on December 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Does this mean Die Hard 2 is the Boxing Day sales?
posted by arcticseal at 7:15 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think there's a good argument to be made that the Die Hard movies started sucking when they stopped being Christmas movies.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:19 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Finally got my wife to watch Die Hard last night. She expected to hate it. She actually cheered when Sgt. Powell shoots Karl at the end.

It's a Christmas Miracle.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:22 PM on December 22, 2012 [14 favorites]


Wow, spoiler.
posted by desjardins at 7:28 PM on December 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


THAT'S RIGHT I SPOILED IT

IT'S DIE HARD, GO WATCH IT NOW
posted by shakespeherian at 7:32 PM on December 22, 2012 [31 favorites]


Thread Soundtrack
posted by Artw at 7:35 PM on December 22, 2012


If you haven't watched Die Hard before, and you're not watching it right now, I'm prepared to say you're wasting your life.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:35 PM on December 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


People... Haven't seen RoboCop?

/stares blankly.
posted by Artw at 7:36 PM on December 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


"Fists with your toes" is still the best advice I've gleaned from film.
posted by carsonb at 7:36 PM on December 22, 2012 [8 favorites]


I liked those sequined shirts.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:36 PM on December 22, 2012


It's Christmas, shakespeherian. It's the time of miracles!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:36 PM on December 22, 2012


I didn't find his argument for Die Hard very convincing

Yeah, he was obviously stretching things for lulz, just wanting a reason to talk about Die Hard. Which is okay, really, cos that's why we're here, right? There doesn't have to be a reason.

"Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho."

So much fun hearing Rickman's voice read this line in your head, with that tinge of disdain.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:40 PM on December 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Benefits of a classical education.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:41 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


People... Haven't seen RoboCop?

In fairness I'm not much of a movie person so there are a ton of good classic things I haven't seen. I only saw Die Hard a few months ago but I did REALLY like it. Maybe I'll give RoboCop a chance sometime in the next few weeks.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:41 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


/Blinks.
posted by Artw at 7:42 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


RoboCop is even better if you pretend that Kurtwood Smith is playing the same character from That 70s Show.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:43 PM on December 22, 2012 [29 favorites]


Love your suit.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:43 PM on December 22, 2012


I haven't seen RoboCop either. And I was 11 when it came out, with three older brothers. Not sure how it passed me by.

Putting it on hold at the library now - if only so Artw can breathe a little easier.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 7:44 PM on December 22, 2012


For the podcast inclined the War Rocket Ajax Christmas episode, which Sims co-hosts, has plenty more discussion of Christmas movies, Die Hard and why It's a Wonderful Life is subversive as hell, as well as Hawkeye writer Matt Faction as a guest.
posted by Artw at 7:45 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it's weird that people mention Road House in the same breath as RoboCop and Die Hard, though. Yeah, they're all violent 80s action movies with cult followings, but unlike the two others, Road House is kind of crappy, and is loved mostly because it's so cheesy. RoboCop and (especially) Die Hard are, as the article mentions, near perfect examples of the craft of making an action movie.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:46 PM on December 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


Artw writes "/stares blankly."

How I know I'm getting old-er: One of the guys in my latest Electrical Class had never seen Back To The Future! I'd didn't know it was possible to reach the age of majority and not have seen that movie.
posted by Mitheral at 7:48 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wow, spoiler.

Hi. I'm in the thread about a 24 year old blockbuster movie that has been re-run thousands of times on every cable network ever, but please don't spoil the plot because although I've had every opportunity to watch it, and haven't, I'd like to preserve my ignorance should I decide to lower my standards to Bruce Willis movies. Thanks! XOXO!
posted by clearly at 7:48 PM on December 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


Wait did anyone says 'Come out to the coast' yet?

Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs.

Okay now someone else say it too.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:49 PM on December 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


One of the guys in my latest Electrical Class had never seen Back To The Future! I'd didn't know it was possible to reach the age of majority and not have seen that movie.

This is also on the list of movies I haven't seen. I'm sure it's good and I have no doubt I'd really like it if I saw it (and I will probably make the effort to do so at some point) I just genuinely don't watch a ton of movies.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:50 PM on December 22, 2012


The incomparable made a podcast on that same topic 2 years ago that was quite fun.
Is "Die Hard" the greatest Christmas movie ever made? Dan Moren thinks so. Others are less sure
posted by motdiem2 at 7:52 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


You guys have all seen Gremlins, right?
posted by Artw at 7:52 PM on December 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Chris Sims recently tweeted that he's never seen Gremlins. Really hard to judge best Christmas movie of all time when you're leaving that one out of the running.
posted by thecjm at 7:52 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Shiiiiiiiiiiiiii-
posted by Artw at 7:53 PM on December 22, 2012


Die Hard beats it pretty solidly though, really.
posted by Artw at 7:53 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Should also drop in a mention of Trading Places.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:53 PM on December 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs.--shakesphererian
Ok... have your people call my people to set it up.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:54 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Should also drop in a mention of Trading Places.

NEY YEARS MOVIE!
posted by Artw at 7:54 PM on December 22, 2012


There's a disgusting Santa suit! It totally counts.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:55 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thread Soundtrack

I am deliberately reading this wrong, and I will agree that THREADS is the most accurate Christmas movie ever.
posted by Mezentian at 7:56 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, sprechen ze talk?
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:57 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pomona?
posted by slater at 8:01 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Meta ze Talk" should be the new "Take it to MetaTalk."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:04 PM on December 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl writes "This is also on the list of movies I haven't seen. I'm sure it's good and I have no doubt I'd really like it if I saw it (and I will probably make the effort to do so at some point) I just genuinely don't watch a ton of movies."

Ya, it's brilliant.

The double fun bit about this is the gentleman in question, not having seen the movie, didn't know that the answer "Flux Capacitor" that my instructor uses on a multiple choice exam when he needs filler or wants to give us a break on the number of answers was a joke. He just figured it was some sort of weird capacitor.
posted by Mitheral at 8:09 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thread Soundtrack
posted by Artw at 4:35 PM on December 22 [+] [!]


Incorrect.

posted by Sebmojo at 8:15 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, I'm not sure it's a perfect fit, but I think Commando pairs well with New Year's. The loose ends from John Matrix's old life all get mudered so that he can go on and live his new life with his daughter and possibly a flight attendant/pilot.
posted by ckape at 8:18 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw Gremlins for the first time last year. Maybe you needed to see it as a kid to enjoy it (by being oblivious to the overt racism), but....ick. Not the best of the 1980s.
posted by schmod at 8:19 PM on December 22, 2012


You mean the shop from Big Trouble in Little China?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:21 PM on December 22, 2012


“It is truly, The Muppet Chain Saw Massacre.” – Harlan Ellison, on Gremlins.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:21 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


You're going to be dissing all the racism and gorilla-rape at the end of Trading Places next.
posted by Artw at 8:21 PM on December 22, 2012


I've never seen Die Hard, but it can't be any worse a Christmas movie than Love Actually.
posted by orange swan at 8:32 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, and this Die Hard fan poster is one of my favorite things.
posted by schmod at 8:45 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


THE ONE TRUE CHRISTMAS MOVIE AGAINST WHICH ALL OTHER CHRISTMAS MOVIES SHALL BE JUDGED AND FOUND WANTING
posted by elizardbits at 8:45 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still want to grow up to be Argyle.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:47 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


it can't be any worse a Christmas movie than Love Actually.

YOU JEST!
Love Actually, while not being an awful film, gave us this.
posted by Mezentian at 8:48 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


whatever it is that the Nakatomi Corporation actually does

Negotiate million-dollar deals for breakfast
posted by nathancaswell at 8:51 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


You missed some.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:54 PM on December 22, 2012


Die Hard is my favorite action film ever for one very important reason: John McClane is SCARED. He's scared from the first gunshot until the last. You can see it in his eyes and hear it in his voice. For all the epic badassery, for all the bravado and crazy stunts... he's a human being, and he knows he's not bulletproof, and he's frightened out of his mind.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:56 PM on December 22, 2012 [46 favorites]


Love Actually, while not being an awful film, gave us this

Why isn't that a clip of Hugh Grant dancing to the Pointer Sisters.
posted by elizardbits at 9:12 PM on December 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


One two three FOUR five
Six seven eight NINE ten
Eleven twelve

do do do do do
posted by shakespeherian at 9:16 PM on December 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


RoboCop and (especially) Die Hard are, as the article mentions, near perfect examples of the craft of making an action movie.

Die Hard is well executed but it's also a terrific script; not a word is wasted, every setup is paid off. ("Fists with your toes" is a funny line, and it serves in the setup also to show us that McClane is a nervous flyer, which again humanizes him. But in the longer run it's there to ensure that McClane is barefoot when Gruber takes over the building; and that pays off half an hour later ("shoot the glass") to make McClane even more vulnerable.)

Two little beats that I like:

1. McClane meeting Ellis; Ellis has just (in our sight but out of McClane's) taken a snort of coke; McClane is introduced as to him as a cop and tells him "you missed a bit". It's a little bit of business that tells us that McClane is observant; that he has sized up Ellis and decided he's not worth the effort; and that Ellis knows it.

2. The second time McClane passes the girlie calendar in the elevator service room; he recognizes it and pats it briefly, almost affectionately; which also quickly and subtly tells us that we've been here before.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:26 PM on December 22, 2012 [26 favorites]


every setup is paid off.

Well, nothing really happens with the pregnant woman except that I guess it gets Holly in front of Gruber to request she get to sit on a couch.

The watch ('It's a Rolex') is probably the longest setup/payoff in the whole film.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:31 PM on December 22, 2012


Why isn't that a clip of Hugh Grant dancing to the Pointer Sisters.

Because it's Bill Nighy being awesome.
A man who can escape the Underworld with his dignity intact deserves our respect.
posted by Mezentian at 9:31 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The link is all well and good except that On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the best Christmas movie ever.
posted by mazola at 9:31 PM on December 22, 2012


It must be said: the Star Wars Holiday Special is the best Life Day movie ever.
posted by Mezentian at 9:34 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Happy Life Day, pal.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:35 PM on December 22, 2012


Urf Urf Urf Urf Gwaaaaar.
posted by Mezentian at 9:36 PM on December 22, 2012


ahem

there is no place here for dignity

none
posted by elizardbits at 9:47 PM on December 22, 2012


Someone linked to the Die Hard song already, right?

I first learned of it here, after all.
posted by maxwelton at 10:07 PM on December 22, 2012


I'm very sorry to everyone in this thread, but The Long Kiss Goodnight is very obviously the best Christmas movie ever.
posted by cthuljew at 10:11 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


The police have themselves an RV!

and

I'm Agent Johnson, this is Special Agent Johnson.

and (I love that even asshole Dwayne gets a good line)

We're gonna need some more FBI guys, I guess.
posted by dhartung at 10:24 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I swear I get something new and wonderful from this movie with every watching. The one thing Ellis asks for when 'dealing' with Hans is 'coke'. Sure enough, they get it for him from the vending machine. That's some beautifully bitter (tasting) product placement.
posted by carsonb at 10:31 PM on December 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


1. Everything everyone has said here about Die Hard is correct. It's a textbook action movie in the best possible way (as is RoboCop for a lot of the same reasons, as people have pointed out in this thread). Everything that's there is there for a reason. Everything has a purpose. It's a movie that's both lean and strong. Basically, Die Hard is the Bruce Lee of action movies. It's in my top five movies ever made, without question. Oh my god, the quarterback is toast!

2. Question: does Die Hard with a Vengeance take place at Christmas? There are mixed messages. Everyone walks around sweating in short-sleeved shirts (and school's in session), but that one kid says "look around, man! All the cops are into something! It's Christmas — you could steal City Hall!" and McClane stalls the guy in the truck in the aqueduct by saying "we got a report of some guy coming through here with eight reindeer. They said he was a jolly old fat guy with a snowy white beard and a cute little red and white suit." You can explain both of those things away (the kid is saying that the cops being busy is like a Christmas gift, and McClane always seems to get in these kinds of situations around Christmas time), but they just seem like weird inclusions. (Apart from those oddities, I really like Die Hard with a Vengeance. Second-favourite Die Hard movie.)

3. "Yabba dabba do dabba dooba dabba deeby dabba!"
posted by scottjacksonx at 10:35 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems this post is missing the Yippeekiyay_motherfucker tag.
Christmas is ruined.
posted by Mezentian at 10:39 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just for you...
posted by Artw at 10:46 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the record, my favorite Christmas movie is The Mothman Prophecies.
posted by SPrintF at 10:52 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


My favorite Christmas movie is Rocky 4.
posted by concrete at 10:56 PM on December 22, 2012


I will say that not only is Die Hard the best Christmas movie ever, it may be the best action movie of all time.

When I watch it, I feel like Salieri reading Mozart's musical notes and wondering why there aren't any corrections, until it slowly dawns on him that it's because he's a fucking genius.

Die Hard does that to me, there are no missteps, there are no throwaway lines, there are no unessential characters, there are no unneeded shots. It's an How to write, act, and shoot an action movie 101: Die Hard. Full Stop.

Every single shot, every single line, every single character is essential to the story. Alan Rickman absolutely exploding on the "American Movie Scene" with his spot on portrayal of Hans Gruber. I was lucky as all hell to see this first run with an old friend who spent the previous year in Germany, and he translated the German as it happened, it was fucking awesome, Cody: "I think he's saying to shoot the glass?" Hans: "Shoot the glass!", thanks Cody wherever you are.

The kung fu dude looking at the candy bars, the imposter security guard bemoaning that he lost fifty bucks on the losing team, Takagi not giving up the password, I figure that we'll lose 20, maybe 25% of the hostages, I can live with that, 'they are using artillery on us!', I was always partial to Roy Rogers myself, Al Powell walking out of the gas station with an bagful of twinkies, walking past a sign stating that the price of gas in Century City is .77/gal, make fists with your toes, 'this is Agent Johnson, no the other one', 'Hans, Booby, I'm your white knight', we're gonna need some new FBI guys, 'Slick, this is just like fuckin Saigon, I was in the 8th grade asshole', My people are all covered in glass, 'Glass? who gives a shit about glass?' yippie-kai-yay motherfucker, Argyle and the teddy bear, people smoking in LAX, and my second favorite line in movie history: 'Yeah Central, yeah this is Walt down at Nakatomi, say listen, would it be possible for you to turn off grid 212?' Hey no shit it's my ass, I have a big problem down here. Shut it down, shut it down now.'

I've wanted to be in a situation where I can say that for going on 20 years now.

I could do this all night. I've been watching action movies and movies in general for a long time now and the number of really tight action movies is short and I can't understand why Die Hard doesn't get more press for what it really, really is.

The Perfect Action Movie.

The only close contender is The Road Warrior.
posted by Sphinx at 11:01 PM on December 22, 2012 [29 favorites]


I butchered the Slick line. Upon rewatch it's: "Just like fucking Saigon, right Slick? I was in junior high, dickhead."

That being said, watch the new blurays, they look awesome.
posted by Sphinx at 11:12 PM on December 22, 2012


A few years ago I ended up in the ER due to some bad reactions to blood pressure medicine, and Amy told the doctor at one point (she told me this later), "He'll be fine, I just peeked in to check on him and he's watching Die Hard and yelling 'SHOOT ZE GLASS!' at the screen..."
posted by mrbill at 11:18 PM on December 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now I Have A Spoiler

XO-XO-XO
posted by mannequito at 11:24 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Alan Rickman was so good in Die Hard that I'm pretty sure the Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie people went to him and said "Just do what you did in Die Hard but kinda medevial" and Alan Rickman said OK and he ended up being best thing in that Kevin Costner Robin Hood movie.
posted by mcmile at 11:24 PM on December 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


Oh goodness how I love the 'fists with your toes' scenes, how you see McClane ultimately giving the benefit of doubt to the guy on the plane and how you see it on his face that he ends up recognizing the credit in the plane guy's superficially dorky advice.
posted by Anything at 11:29 PM on December 22, 2012


also: you know your movie has "made it" when you get parodied in another TV show about paintball fights at a community college.
posted by mrbill at 11:31 PM on December 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Die Hard is my favorite action film ever for one very important reason: John McClane is SCARED.

Wow. I have seen Die Hard at least two dozen times, have it mostly memorized. It is the best action movie ever made, IMHO. With this post you blew my mind. I never really thought about how that's so different from most every other action movie. This really nails it. Cheers for that.

Also, every Die Hard sequel sucked. One after the other, Suck Hard II, Suck Hard III, Suck Hard IV. Thanks for the laughs, I just thought of those just now, no really I did.
posted by zardoz at 11:46 PM on December 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought this had all been settled long ago, I mean, Die Hard is one of the best action movies of all time, a genre starter (think of how many movies could be explained as Die Hard on a ______, which, just off the top of my head is Sudden Death and Under Siege), and the best movie set on Christmas ever. Obviously a shoe in for bestvChristmas movie.

A couple things: first, I absolutely love Rickman's Gruber doing the American accent (ahoohh gaaawd, yerrr wanna thehmmm!). That, and the only red herring in the film, Karl not understanding Gruber saying shoot ze glass until it is said in English.

Finally, after 13 years in Japan, I've never had a student named Takagi. You'd think I would, just one. I mean, if I were to have a Takagi, and, say, they graduated, or transferred, or were expelled, and someone were to ask where they were, you can be sure I would be ready. Ready for thirteen years.

I'd probably get over excited and flub the line.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:02 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


When two cops, one from the east coast and the other from the west are discussing the virtues of eating Twinkies, the movie is an instant classic. To me, I loved the young kid limo driver too.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:16 AM on December 23, 2012


You got any Christmas music?

This is Christmas music!
posted by MoonOrb at 12:52 AM on December 23, 2012


I love Die Hard with a vengeance (hah!) and try to watch it every year, partly for the great rendition of "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth in the end credits. Mrs. Example and I have our own Christmas movies, though, and in addition to A Christmas Story (duh), we also watch the relatively obscure Olive, the Other Reindeer, which has a character actually named "Round John Virgin". Oh, and of course there's The Ref, if only for the wonderful line:
"You know what I'm going to get you next Christmas, Mom? A big wooden cross, so that every time you feel unappreciated for your sacrifices, you can climb on up and nail yourself to it."
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:06 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Just got back from a Die Hard Christmas screening. You folks will be glad to know John McClane saved us from terrorist thieves again. I personally was worried for a while there, but he pulled it out. The wife refuses to buy my "Of course it's a Christmas movie, the estranged couple gets together in the end and it's really about giving. Bullets." but hopefully this article will convince her.

My Christmas movie rotation is: Die Hard, Nightmare Before Christmas, Blackadder's Christmas Carol, It's Christmas Mr. Bean, and Muppet Christmas Carol.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:49 AM on December 23, 2012


Our traditional Christmas movie is Life of Brian, but now I want to rewatch Die Hard for the first time in quite a while.
posted by But tomorrow is another day... at 1:58 AM on December 23, 2012


I've not watched Die Hard in ages... think I'll have to give it watch again.

My Christmas film is now The Junky's Christmas... I've watched it late night Christmas Eve ever since I discovered it a few years back.

Still never seen The Snowman
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:26 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


No love for Bad Santa?

Philistines.
posted by zippy at 2:57 AM on December 23, 2012


No love for Bad Santa?

Two doors down, on the left, in the Bad Santa thread.
posted by Mezentian at 3:28 AM on December 23, 2012


Ah, joys. A chance to promote The Die Hard Method. Have a Happy Holiday!
posted by 0bvious at 4:25 AM on December 23, 2012


I sign my Christmas cards "Yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon."
posted by klarck at 4:26 AM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is also on my list of Top Ten Christmas Movies.
posted by Mick at 5:28 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yippee-ki-ay, MetaFilter.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:46 AM on December 23, 2012 [11 favorites]


Our household has the tradition of watching Fargo every Christmas. It's the greatest love story ever. When Marge just smiles and shakes her head as her husband makes those disgusting nasal noises; when he gets out of bed to make her eggs and puts on his boots cuz "Prowler needs a jump"; when she explains that everyone needs the two center when stamp prices go up--now that's amore.
posted by leftcoastbob at 5:50 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


A Christmas action movie thread and nary a mention of Lethal Weapon? Ah well, at least Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and the Long Kiss Goodnight have already been brought up, so Shane Black's getting some love here. The Last Boy Scout usually comes up as one of Black's Christmas films as well but aside from Satan Claws and the original release date, that always seems a bit tenuous to me. All four are great in any case.

Regarding Die Hard: If I'm flicking channels and chance upon a film that I've already seen there's usually an internal monologue along the lines of "Is this one of the good bits; worth rewatching? Hmm, well, is it close enough to one of the good bits to keep watching until it gets there?" With Die Hard it's just "Ah, Die Hard - worth rewatching." And that'll be me until the end of the film.
posted by MUD at 6:05 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This seems like the right place to remind everybody that Die Hard and Predator are the same movie, told from opposite perspectives.
posted by Partial Law at 6:05 AM on December 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


Bruce Willis hunts The deadliest game of all?
posted by Artw at 6:10 AM on December 23, 2012


I think he could have spared the extra second to shoot Bill "Hans" Clay.
posted by fleacircus at 6:14 AM on December 23, 2012


Can anyone remember that Bruce Willis was a wild card choice for an action hero at the time? He was only known as a comic actor, I definitely remember reading at least one article wondering if could handle a role like this.
posted by octothorpe at 6:29 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Far be it from me to flog a decade-old listicle, but: Die Hard is #8 on our Top Ten Christmas Movies for Cynics. Looking back, it's actually not a bad list as far as those things go: Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Go!, Eyes Wide Shut, Brazil and (wohoo!) Gremlins.
posted by muckster at 7:33 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I watched Die Hard with the sound off at a bar a few months ago. One thing that struck me was how McClane has to confront a few situations that are downright frightening even without people shooting at him. Seeing him jump through the air-shaft or walk across glass with bare feet is enough to make me tense up.

From the Keith Phipps tumblr
Original Siskel and Ebert review.

Phipps thoughts on the film

(I like to think this backs up my theory that an intense Die Hard disagreement led to him leaving the Onion.)
posted by drezdn at 7:35 AM on December 23, 2012


Die Hard is the best action movie over all, but I would nominate Midnight Run, which came out the same year, as the best buddy action movie.
posted by rfs at 8:09 AM on December 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


The five essential Christmas movies in the dersins household (in order of release date):

It's a Wonderful Life
Gremlins
Die Hard
Muppet Christmas Carol
Elf*


*This may not be a popular choice, but I will defend it to the death.
posted by dersins at 8:09 AM on December 23, 2012


A few years ago my wife (a writer who doesn't like action movies, as a general rule) and I watched Die Hard, and when it was over she said "Wow, that was actually a really good script."

I'd say Die Hard is the best action movie of all time as a total package (script, acting, action, etc.), but Hard-Boiled has the best action.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:12 AM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


*This may not be a popular choice, but I will defend it to the death.

A few years ago my wife and I were in the checkout line at Blockbuster, about to rent Elf, and just then the store was taken over by armed robbers, who shouted at everyone to get down on the floor, confiscated our cell phones, etc.

I have since seen Elf, and I will say confidently that it would not have been worth any heroics to see it on the night of the robbery, nor would it be worth anyone's life to defend Elf in any way.
posted by mubba at 8:49 AM on December 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


I also vote for "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" as a modern holiday classic. It's a personal favorite, if only for the casket scene at the climax. (Not a spoiler)
posted by ColdChef at 9:18 AM on December 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Oh, you're an ANGRY Elf.
posted by Artw at 9:18 AM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I watched Die Hard with the sound off at a bar a few months ago. One thing that struck me was how McClane has to confront a few situations that are downright frightening even without people shooting at him. Seeing him jump through the air-shaft or walk across glass with bare feet is enough to make me tense up.

Some of my favorite parts are the parts where he's talking to himself like when he's arguing why he didn't stop them shooting Takagi or psyching himself up to jump off the roof. It's funny, I've seen the movie probably a thousand times but I still get sucked into it every time.

As for Bruce Willis, I was too young at the time to remember, but the guy hosting our screening last night said at the time he was basically "the guy from Blind Date" and wasn't exactly your first choice pick for an action hero.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:46 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


and when it was over she said "Wow, that was actually a really good script."

My brother said the same thing, and he doesn't really care about movies, and he thinks action movies are stupid. In context it is pretty high praise coming from him. I think 'Die Hard' has the tightest script since 'Jaws'.
posted by ovvl at 9:49 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is The Lookout set during Christmas as well, or am I thinking of another smallish heist flick?
posted by muckster at 9:53 AM on December 23, 2012


muckster: Sure you're not thinking of Reindeer Games?
posted by asterix at 9:57 AM on December 23, 2012


He was only known as a comic actor, I definitely remember reading at least one article wondering if could handle a role like this.

And IMO this is why Willis was the best choice, and a big part of what makes the movie. McClane is tough, and Willis projects that toughness, but McClane doesn't live to be tough like a Stallone or Seagal; he's tough so he and his loved ones can live.

It's what Schwarzenegger tried, and failed miserably, to project in Last Action Hero, when Schwarzie / Slater complains to McGuffin Danny that "shit just keeps happening to me and I don't know why." With Willis, we believe he really is mystified and baffled at how things keep working out.
posted by localroger at 10:03 AM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I saw Die Hard in the theater when it was originally released, but under protest. A friend of mine loved Bruce Willis on Moonlighting and dragged me to see Die Hard despite me griping that I hate action films. I was on the edge of my seat for most of the movie and fell instantly in love with Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber. (My friend said the movie was bloodier than she'd expected and that Willis was all sweaty and gross through much of it.) Just a few days later I took my younger brothers to see it (they were under 17 but luckily the ticket-taker wasn't checking IDs), and now, all these years later Die Hard is a family favorite/tradition. My one brother still regularly remarks upon seeing someone in an expensive suit "John Phillips, London. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there."
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:04 AM on December 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I have two myself.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:23 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


this has been my annual christmas movie for several years (I feel so validated) but I am surprised there was no inclusion of the obvious annual halloween viewing of Donny Darko???
posted by supermedusa at 10:37 AM on December 23, 2012


Technical reasons: Donnie Darko is terrible.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:39 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My wife and I watched Elf again the other night and it is better than I remembered. Take away line: " You sit on a throne of lies!"
posted by arcticseal at 10:43 AM on December 23, 2012


Donnie Darko may have been irreparably harmed by the special edition that stomped all over the carefully crafted enigmatic ambiguity and revealed that it was indeed completly empty headed.
posted by Artw at 10:51 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


cthuljew you make a very good point. I would say Long Kiss Goodnight is my second favorite xmas movie!!!
posted by supermedusa at 10:55 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Elf would be a lot better, IMO, if it didn't have that crammed-in We Gotta Save Christmas!! third act. It's a pleasant fish out of water story otherwise.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:01 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Whatever happened to McTiernan? Predator and Die Hard were awesome and the Hunt for Red October wasn't too shabby... /checks IMDB... oh yeah, Last Action Hero.... that was it... (oh god, the horror of Rollerball remake a film I've thankfully not managed see and mostly forget exists)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:06 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why a spoon, uncle? Alan Rickman was the only thing that made that movie tolerable to watch
posted by supermedusa at 11:10 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Go! is the Christmas I always wanted to have and never did.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:12 AM on December 23, 2012


Donnie Darko is one of my favorite movies ever, and I could not agree with Artw more, the special release version SUX and should never be watched
posted by supermedusa at 11:21 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


also, no love for Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas you barbarians!!! now where'd I put that teapot?
posted by supermedusa at 11:22 AM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Not just the fear, but I remember liking that McClane is introduced not being really comfortable with his gun. Like, he wears it and knows how to shoot it, but doesn't like it. That adds a lot for me.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:34 AM on December 23, 2012


'Hans, Booby, I'm your white knight'

Bubbe. Yiddish term of endearment, essentially in this scene mimicking Hollywood producer poolside slang. "Bubbe, we can make this movie happen!" I've never been able to ascertain whether this implication that Ellis is Jewish has anything to do with Gruber's distaste for him.

I also have to agree that Willis was the perfect choice for this film, and his vulnerability and confidence in admitting it to himself is part of why. Schwarzenegger the actor has self-insight like this, but he rarely gets his characters to successfully display it (somewhat in McTiernan's Predator, and in the false (?) character of Quaid in Total Recall are examples). Ahnold's schtick works because of his self-awareness and shameless prostitution of his own persona in the cause of creating a comic-book character, but it's completely different from the determined humanity of Willis's John McClane. Stallone, to bring up the third leg of the 80s action troika, doesn't have this at all even though he's actually a smart guy (almost never -- see Cop Land for a counterexample that is notable by its rarity).

Most of the Die Hard on/in a _____ xeroxes failed to understand this key point and were just action grinds. Speed is a counterexample that worked.

I will say that Die Hard is nearly perfect as an action vehicle, but it is to be sure a specific type -- the prototype, if you will -- of one confined to a particular set piece, the way Under Siege used a cruise ship and Speed used a bus. (The Road Warrior used the highway!) Or Air Force One used AF1. The series weakened, in my mind, largely because it lost that focus with each sequel.
posted by dhartung at 11:35 AM on December 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm Agent Johnson, this is Special Agent Johnson.

No relation.
posted by nathancaswell at 11:36 AM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure that Arnie DOES have the self-insight to handle vulnerability. I recently caught True Lies on tv, hadn't seen it in years. And it hit me that the movie was almost certainly written for somebody else. Schwarzenegger's cover is that he's a computer salesman, and it's supposed to be a complete surprise that he's a superspy: a badass fighter who's nimble enough to tango with Tia Carrera or whomever. Well, color me not surprised. He's Arnold freaking Schwarzenegger.
posted by nushustu at 11:55 AM on December 23, 2012


Arnie is a grumpy sheriff who is too old for this shit in his latest - from the trailer he totally does not pull it off, though he does seem pretty old.
posted by Artw at 11:58 AM on December 23, 2012


The series weakened, in my mind, largely because it lost that focus with each sequel.

For me, the key weakening of the series is in McClane's gradual transformation into a superhero.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:13 PM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Since no-one else mentioned it.. Here's yet another thing that makes Die Hard a Christmas Classic.

"Don't you have any Christmas music?" "This IS Christmas music!"

Christmas in Hollis - RUN DMC
posted by j03 at 12:14 PM on December 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure that Arnie DOES have the self-insight to handle vulnerability.

Well, that's what I was saying. What he does understand is that he's a big, goofy cartoon of a human being, and lets directors use that. When he gets away from that, he falters.

Oh! Midnight Run was mentioned. I love that movie -- it does have action, but I don't consider it an action movie per se. It's really a road movie* with a few dust-ups. My favorite thing about the screenplay is how it gives almost every single character -- even minor ones -- their own agency and display of self-interest or self-protection. I only just realized how well this sets up the ending, and provides a repeated contrast to DeNiro's self-interest, in which the conflict of the plot is brought forth.

"If I were your accountant...." -- of course, in the movie, he's the moral accountant. Perfect.

* And, of course, a bittersweet bromance.
posted by dhartung at 12:16 PM on December 23, 2012


I think 'Die Hard' has the tightest script since 'Jaws'.

See also, and already mentioned up-thread: Back To The Future.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:17 PM on December 23, 2012


For straight goofy action I'll take Arnie over Stallone, that's for sure.
posted by Artw at 12:25 PM on December 23, 2012


It seems to me that the line between exuberance and arrogance is blurred and crossed at least a dozen times above. I'm sort of surprised at the level of disregard at several turns but, really, why am I expecting anything? It's not like people who mark time and epochs through "Christmas movies" are anything but enjoying themselves, right?

I've seen _Die Hard_ twice and I found it pretty underwhelming even as an action film (heresy, I know). The animated (?) repartee upthread, though, means I will give it a third go-round at least to see what I can see.

As far as Christmas films, I'm all about _Brazil_ and the made-for-TV _The Year Without a Santa Claus_. As an action film lover, I agree _Hard Boiled_ is a much better film, but that's like pitting a little league team against an MLB franchise.

I suppose as a Christmas action film, _Die Hard_ might be tops but then maybe it's a question of only-entrant-in-the-category.

Or maybe I'm stupid, evil, and unAmerican for not getting _Die Hard_? In any case, two out of three ain't bad.
posted by mistersquid at 2:01 PM on December 23, 2012


Brazil is the Christmas movie where the Grinch won and there won't ever be another Christmas, ever.
posted by localroger at 2:10 PM on December 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


I remember liking that McClane is introduced not being really comfortable with his gun. Like, he wears it and knows how to shoot it, but doesn't like it.

Yes, this. McClane doesn't really like being tough, he just is. All of the other tough guy action stars play characters who are proud and revel in their toughness; McClane just wants to deliver the goddamn teddy bear. In fact, he seems to know that his toughness is also a liability; it's probably what has messed up his marriage.

I used to know an actual real life hero. He was a state trooper who responded to a burning grain elevator and rescued a number of wounded workers from the roof despite the risk that the whole thing could explode like a small atomic bomb at any moment. He had a picture of himself doing this framed in his office; his "Iwo Jima" picture he called it. He was a normal guy who retired early and had a full schedule as a freelance cabinetmaker.

He was one of the proven toughest guys I've ever known but you would never know it unless you got to know him. It wasn't a big deal to him, it was just what had to be done. McClane is one of very few fictional heroes who believably convey that. McClane isn't looking for a fight and doesn't revel in it when he finds himself in one. He just does what he has to to salvage the situation.

Not many of us are Steven Seagal or Ahnuld. But any of us could be Johne McClane. We just don't know until we're asked to, as the song says, knock on wood.
posted by localroger at 2:23 PM on December 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm sort of surprised at the level of disregard at several turns

Disregard of what?
posted by kenko at 2:57 PM on December 23, 2012


mistersquid, I'm watching it right now, and I'm impressed again with how efficiently and indirectly the movie portrays the state of John McClane and Holly *ahem* Gennaro's marriage -- even before the credits are over. The jump cut from him to her doesn't tell you they're married, but she's fending off horny Ellis with "family this, family that" comments, then her secretary calls her Ms. Gennaro, and then she calls home and her daughter answers "McClane residence" -- leading into the reveal of the family photo with John in it, which she then slams face down on the desk. But this is far from just background information -- this seemingly minor action becomes a major plot pivot point as later Gruber realizes her connection to John, and begins to use her to get leverage against John. That doesn't happen by accident; that's well thought-through story construction.

I don't know that there are *no* unnecessary beats or shots, i.e. absolute perfection, but so many of them communicate volumes of character information and presage later action; the more you watch it, knowing this, the more you see.
posted by dhartung at 3:16 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never been able to ascertain whether this implication that Ellis is Jewish has anything to do with Gruber's distaste for him.

My read on Ellis has been: he's a faker. He thinks: bigshots in LA say bubbe(because Yiddish), so he says bubbe(without understanding why). Gruber realizes Ellis can't deliver, and kills him without remorse.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:33 PM on December 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I also have to agree that Willis was the perfect choice for this film, and his vulnerability and confidence in admitting it to himself is part of why.

That's interesting. I was watching Inside the Actor's Studio interview with Harrison Ford and he talks about the vulnerability of his the characters he plays having a role in making them memorable, particularly Indiana Jones.

And a whole topic on Christmas movies and no one mentions Home Alone? The AV Club did a look back on it recently, discussing whether the kids to adult sadism of the movie stands the test of time. A whole lot of people in the topic started quoting from it (and the sequel) and I was surprised to remember how much of that movie is probably permanently etched into the recesses of my brain.
posted by FJT at 3:56 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Die Hard is mine and my husband's traditional Christmas Eve Wraptaculaganza movie, along with The Ref. If you haven't seen The Ref, watch it. It's not great cinema but Denis Leary is brilliant in it.

Other required Christmas watching: A Christmas Story, Elf (dersins, I'll stand with you to the end), A Nightmare Before Christmas, some version of A Christmas Carol (I'm not partial to any one), and It's a Wonderful Life.
posted by cooker girl at 4:20 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


-Diagnosing the injuries suffered by the Home Alone burglars.

-Also, another shout out for The Ref as one of Leery's funniest performances.

"You know what this family needs? A mute."

"From now on, the only person who gets to yell is me. Why? Because I have a gun. People with guns get to do whatever they want. Married people without guns - for instance - you - DO NOT get to yell. Why? NO GUNS! No guns, no yelling. See? Simple little equation."

"What is the matter with you? I thought Mothers were sweet and nice a-a-and Patient. I know loan sharks who are more forgiving than you. Your husband ain't dead, lady. He's hiding."

And IMO one of the BEST holiday-family-drama line EVER.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:49 PM on December 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


My grandmother hated "Die Hard."
HATED it.
To quote her, "That movie was about as near nuthin as I've ever seen."
I think it was the swearing.

But her favorite movie (not just her favorite Christmas movie, but her favorite movie) was "White Christmas", if that explains anything.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:22 PM on December 23, 2012


gonna watch this tonight :)
posted by supermedusa at 7:44 PM on December 23, 2012


I get that a lot of people like "Die Hard" as a holiday movie, but I think that "Midnight Run" is a better movie: better soundtrack, better dialogue, better meaty fisticuff sound effects, better running gags ("Keep an eye on your sunglasses")...just better.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:11 PM on December 23, 2012


Neither me nor Mrs. Claus had ever seen Die Hard (!), so we watched tonight followed by Love Actually - Merry Christmas Mr. Rickman. Excellent.
posted by parki at 10:31 PM on December 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This seems like the right place to remind everybody that Die Hard and Predator are the same movie, told from opposite perspectives.

This is literally the greatest thing I have ever heard in my life ever.
posted by cthuljew at 1:08 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


FJT: with Harrison Ford and he talks about the vulnerability of his the characters he plays having a role in making them memorable, particularly Indiana Jones.

Also particularly noticeable with TV crime/puzzle solvers, Monk being an excellent example (but also House, the various Sherlocks, etc.).

And, ermm, dare I suggest Hudson Hawk?

I honestly don't know why that movie is so reviled, I mean: Bunny, ball ball!
posted by titus-g at 7:51 AM on December 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hudson Hawk is on my shit list because it took the brilliant Willis/Aiello brooklyn burglars chemistry and churned out a slapstick/doesn't-take-itself-seriously turd. Candy bars? I hate the movie because I wanted to laugh along with it and it was encouraging me to laugh at it.

it is a movie filled with self-loathing masquerading as comedy.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:15 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


clearly: Wow, spoiler.

Hi. I'm in the thread about a 24 year old blockbuster movie that has been re-run thousands of times on every cable network ever, but please don't spoil the plot because although I've had every opportunity to watch it, and haven't, I'd like to preserve my ignorance should I decide to lower my standards to Bruce Willis movies. Thanks! XOXO!
I assumed it was a joke post. But, hey, I miss a lot of joke posts here myself, so don't count on me.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:23 PM on December 24, 2012


Christmas interview with Shane Black.
posted by Artw at 9:44 AM on December 25, 2012


Whatever happened to McTiernan?

I too was curious about this while watching this last night, and happened across this interesting tidbit in the trivia section:

In a criminal-wiretapping case filed by the U.S. District Attorney for Los Angeles, John McTiernan plead guilty to lying to F.B.I. agents about requesting to have Anthony Pellicano investigate producer Charles Roven during production of Rollerball (2002). Sentenced to four months in federal prison on 09/24/07, plea was withdrawn and restated as innocent since statement had been given to FBI when McTiernan was admittedly suffering jet-lag and drunk after arriving in US from UK trip. Case was tried and US conviction was handed down on 10/4/2010 by US District Judge Dale Fischer with one-year sentence and $100,000 USD fine against McTiernan. McTiernan's attorneys announced intent to appeal and he is currently free on appeal.

So perhaps a bit of good old fashioned hollywood blacklisting?
posted by SomaSoda at 6:50 PM on December 26, 2012


Aw man jail over fucking Rollerball. That is rough.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:41 PM on December 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was in high school, I had made a "Now I have a machine gun too. Ho Ho Ho" shirt out of a simple white tee, some red dye and markers. I was pretty proud of it and it looked pretty close to the original. Wearing it to school, I was complimented by both teachers and students on how cool it had turned out.

Then, having been out of the news loop for a week holiday, I came in wearing it two days after Columbine. Didn't go over so well that time.
posted by rez at 1:17 PM on January 4, 2013


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