What's Hot
MOST READ
What's Going On

Calendar

Search thousands of events in our database.

Restaurants

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Nightlife

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

loading...

OW on Twitter
OW on Facebook
Print Email

HOLIDAY GUIDE

My favorite Christmas movie

Photo: , License: N/A


  • Holiday Guide 2010 Dear Loved Ones Wow, what a year it’s been! Apologies for the form letter, but we just have so much joy.. | 11/18/2010
  • My mountaintop Christmas “Are you OK?” mumbled the flat-headed kid in need of a shave and permission not to care.. | 11/18/2010
  • My sledding surprise It was about a decade ago that our family traveled to Eagan, Minn. – a suburb of Minneapolis – to visit my aunt, uncle and two cousins for Christmas.. | 11/18/2010
  • My holiday party for one After years of trying to deliver the Christmas fantasy to my family, I finally decided I was giving it up.. | 11/18/2010
  • My night before Christmas It’s 3 a.m. on Christmas morning, and I’m lying on an air mattress on the floor of my parents’ living room, wide awake.. | 11/18/2010
  • My first Christmas tree Like that proverbial tree falling in the woods, my yuletide shenanigans have typically been.. | 11/18/2010
  • My holiday road trip “Over here, Daddy,” the 5-year-old girl squeals at the camcorder while awkwardly dancing to the second verse of the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo.”.. | 11/18/2010
  • My favorite Christmas movie I love Christmas. My wife and kids really love it, and at the risk of chest puffery, we’ve gotten pretty good.. | 11/18/2010
  • Let it flow OW's guide to planning your holiday festivities | 11/18/2010

I love Christmas. My wife and kids really love it, and at the risk of chest puffery, we’ve gotten pretty good at delivering the fairy dust. Not that we always come by it the same way as other households.

You’re far more likely to hear Run-D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis” or James Brown’s “Go Power at Christmas Time” at the Strouts’ than anything by Bing Crosby. You won’t find us at church but you will at Parliament House for Baby Blue’s annual XXXmas show, and my sister and I have a years-running contest to see who can get the other the most extravagantly awful gift. But the most seemingly subversive of our traditions – though I can’t understand why more people don’t get in on it – is our Christmas Eve gift-wrapping, magic-making indulgence: Die Hard.

Die Hard isn’t just the best action movie ever made, it’s the best Christmas movie ever made. The film opens with almost exactly two minutes of effortlessly transmitted, densely packed exposition in which we learn the following: John McClane (Bruce Willis) is on an airplane and 
nervous, both about flying and the plane’s recently arrived-at destination; a passenger suggests he take off his shoes and make “balled-up fists with your toes” when he gets where he’s going, which will come into play much later in a big way; McClane has been a cop for 11 years and is carrying a gun; he’s a flirt; he has a big teddy bear with a bow on it in the overhead compartment; and finally, it’s Christmas, signaled by the sleigh-bell jingling that morphs into the score. Cue title and let’s go.

By the time McClane and his chauffeur are on their way to the ill-fated Nakatomi Corp. 
building – itself a cute, self-contained two-person scene soundtracked by, what else, “Christmas in Hollis” – my kids’ presents are splayed out, wrapping supplies are in hand and more than a little liquor has been poured as the little ones are nestled all snug, etc. As we build the next morning’s wake-up scene, we marvel anew at Die Hard’s revelatory complexity.

At heart, Die Hard is about a cynical, smirking New York cop attempting to win back the heart of his estranged, newly upscale L.A. wife who breaks McClane’s heart by going by her maiden name. Of course, most people think of gunfire and explosions when they think of Die Hard – and those are thrilling, even today – but there isn’t a single subplot that doesn’t pay off huge: cowboys vs. Europeans (Slate once called “Yippee Ki Yay, motherfucker,” “The greatest one-liner in movie history”); the gun-shy, guilt-ridden, sole friend to McClane, Al Powell (pronounced “Al Pal”), who fires the shot that killed the last baddie; McClane’s New York grit vs. the self-destructive FBI flash (personified by two special agents both named “Johnson”); and of course the increasingly elaborate, brilliant plan on the part of the villains (Alan Rickman puts on a showcase as Hans Gruber) that reveals their status as thieves, not terrorists as they want the world to believe. (Though their methods are terrorism of the highest order.)

If there’s a better moment in moviedom than when Willis’ McClane dispatches a bullet-riddled thug down the elevator with a message for Gruber written in blood – “Now I have a machine gun. Ho ho ho.” – I haven’t seen it.

By the time Bruce Willis, a nervous flyer, remember, catapults himself from the top of Nakatomi’s skyscraper, Mr. and Mrs. Claus are tipsy and yelling “Hell yeah!” at the TV screen, a holiday-themed massacre of paper littering the floor. It ain’t pretty, but it is magical.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus