One thing I never understood was all the people who insist Die Hard is a Christmas movie. I understand it takes place at Christmas time, but does it really capture the spirit of the season like, say A Christmas Story or A Wonderful life? As I gave this some consideration, I wondered what about Lethal Weapon?
I always considered the classic buddy cop movie more of a Christmas movie than Die Hard. This was especially true considering how I first watched it with my dad right around Christmas time. Now I want to take a look at both movies as action films first, and see which one do I think captures the holiday spirit more.
They both take place around Christmas time so as far as setting goes they are close to tied. Lethal Weapon has an absolutely fantastic scene that takes place in a Christmas tree parking lot. There are plenty of references sprinkled throughout the film reminding the viewer of the holiday backdrop. However Die Hard almosy exclusively takes place inside an office Christmas party, the Christmas theme is almost essential to the whole plot. Not exclusively because it could have just as well been a New Year’s Eve, or hell, even a Halloween office party. The fact it was so relevant to the plot gives it a slight edge over Lethal Weapon.
Point 1: Die Hard.
As far as music goes both film feature prominent holiday tunes to set the mood. While Die Hard does take place at a holiday party, the Christmas mood is far more prevelant in Lethal Weapon. There is a family theme running through the entire film. The references aside, the family invites Riggs into their home to enjoy their holiday dinner, the mood is set Riggs is a part of the family and Christmas is all about family.
Point 2: Lethal Weapon
Both movies being basically tied in terms of theme, setting and holiday dressing it now comes down to the tie breaker. While the office party was a Christmas party, as mentioned before it really could have been any office party and still worked. It was prominent thus earned the point, however Riggs depression and suicidal tendencies are maginfied with it being, as he put it in the film, “the silly season.” If you make Die Hard a New Year’s Eve, or even a Valentines Day party, nothing else about the film would have changed. If you set Lethal Weapon in the middle of the summer, for example, the suicide, depression and emphasis on the season, it lessens the impact of his struggle. Sure, people can battle depression year round, but it is well documented the suicide rate goes up around the holidays, a point that is made during the course of the film.
Point 3: Lethal Weapon.
Personally, I have always felt Letgal Weapon was the superior film. As a cop movie it works better because them being cops is basically the whole film. Mclain could have been an ex-marine or even a soldiet on leave and his actions wouldn’t have been out of character. I like Lethal Weapon more as a buddy movir as Die Hard is basically a one man show. Don’t get me wrong I like both flicks, I just think Lethal Weapon is clearly the better movie and, to me at least, the easily better Christmas movie.
Now all things considered, I can’t really say either are what I would call Christmas movies, so to that end it’s kind of irrelevant. That being said feel free to enjoy either movie any time of the year you wish. As for me, if I am watching an action movie during the holidays, chances are high it’s going to be Lethal Weapon, not Die Hard.