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Every Christmas the same old debates come out to play. Was Ebenezer Scrooge really changed? Did Mrs. Deagle really deserve to die at the hands of Gremlins? Does fruitcake count as a war crime? But one of the greatest debates is over what sort of film constitutes as a “Christmas Movie,” and both Die Hard and Lethal Weapon have been put through that particular wringer one too many times. So let’s settle this all with one simple equation, which if it doesn’t pass muster, should settle the debate for good: If Die Hard is a Christmas movie, that means Lethal Weapon is too.
We’re going to weigh in on both films individually, as well as pull in some evidence from the people behind both films as to why this case is as solid as Roger Murtaugh’s sensibilities. Of course, there will be a chance for you, the public, to weigh in with your own thoughts on the matter. But for now, let’s get into the case of whether both Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are Christmas movies.
Why Die Hard Is Definitely A Christmas Movie
One of the biggest debates in modern film discourse has to be about whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Some feel that the setting is enough to land the film a slot in their holiday rotation, while others think the case is extremely flimsy and not worth the time. However, take the following rundown into consideration.
Bruce Willis’ John McClane is a man who’s separated from his wife, missing his family on the holidays, and ultimately trying to reconcile with Bonnie Bedelia’s Holly. Truly learning the meaning of family, and how much he misses her, John fights off iconic baddie Hans Gruber (played with historic relish by the late, great Alan Rickman,) as he tries to put the Grinch on Christmas for everyone in Nakatomi Plaza.
By the end of the movie McClane’s heroism pays off, Reginald Vel Johnson’s Sgt. Al Powell overcomes his traumatic experience in the line of duty to save the day, and it starts snowing paperwork on the aftermath. With lessons of selfless devotion to duty and family, a Christmas Eve setting, and several sweet seasonal needle drops, Die Hard is definitely a Christmas movie; no matter what Bruce Willis himself has said on the matter. But just to be sure, let’s take a look at how Lethal Weapon meets those standards.
Does Lethal Weapon Meet The Standards Of A Christmas Movie?
Knowing what we know about Die Hard, we can begin to look into just what makes Lethal Weapon a Christmas movie more effectively. Is the film set at Christmas? Like most, if not all of writer Shane Black’s filmography, yes it is. Does the film have a message of selfless devotion to duty and family togetherness? Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh exemplifies those values perfectly, and we see that through his relationship with his own family around Christmas time.
But the one big thing that really ties Lethal Weapon into the Christmas movie canon, besides the opening usage of “Jingle Bell Rock,” or even the fact that the film has an action set piece set in the middle of a Christmas tree lot, is Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs. A suicidal mess who’s a loose cannon, Riggs isn’t exactly the jolliest cop on the LAPD beat when we meet him.
And yet, through the caper that throws him together with Murtaugh as a partner, Riggs goes through a Christmas Carol style journey that helps him become a better man. Making a friend in Roger Murtaugh, Martin Riggs eventually becomes a better person after a harrowing Christmas, and even spends Christmas with the entire Murtaugh family; allowing him to give a symbolic gift that proves he’s a changed man. Does Lethal Weapon meet the standards of a Christmas movie? It absolutely does, and to help prove that fact we have evidence provided by none other than Die Hard writer Steven de Souza, who freely admits that thanks to Lethal Weapon, Die Hard was inspired to become a Christmas classic in the making!
What Do The People Behind Die Hard Have To Say About It?
In his case to pitch both Lethal Weapon and Die Hard as Christmas movies, Steven de Souza cites a pretty important source: legendary film producer Joel Silver. A man who was involved with both of those movies, as well as other megahits of the ‘80s like Commando, Predator, and Road House, de Souza told a journalist at Dazed Digital that not only are both Die Hard and Lethal Weapon considered Christmas movies, they were deliberately made to be considered as such.
De Souza explained the scenario as follows:
The Christmas setting is in [Die Hard’s] source novel, Nothing Lasts Forever, by Roderick Thorpe. … One of our producers, Joel Silver, had made Lethal Weapon the previous year, which was also set during the holiday, and he had decided he liked all his movies to take place at Christmas, as they would then very likely be played on television every December and we would all get residual checks. Obviously, he was right!
Not only is Lethal Weapon considered a Christmas movie because it falls into the same criteria that Die Hard does when being evaluated in a similar context, the film was the inspiration for making John McClane’s holiday adventure a holiday themed classic. Throw in the fact that the novel that inspired Die Hard was also a tale set at Christmas, and you’ve got a tight circle of proof that these two films are cinematic tree toppers to any good holiday themed marathon.
At their hearts, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon happen to be movies that show characters in a tough spot during the holidays. Through a journey of the soul, and some action packed adventure, they eventually discover that their personal baggage doesn’t matter. What matters is that they have friends and family they cherish, and through the magic of Christmas (and some gunfire) they learn this lesson just in time to celebrate with the ones they’re closest to.
When all else fails, Joel Silver made sure they were Christmas-y enough to enter heavy rotation in December, so whether you want to take the sentimental route or the logistical one, Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are definitely considered Christmas movies. So no matter what the polls may say, the facts tell a different story. But, of course, just because there’s a compelling argument of logic and reason in front of you doesn’t mean there’s no room for other opinions.
Below this very case study is a poll that you can take to weigh in on how you feel about both Die Hard and Lethal Weapon being considered as Christmas movies. You also have the usage of the Comments section, where you can leave notes explaining just why you feel so strongly in either case. And if you’re still in the fighting mood, head over to our explanation as to why Iron Man 3 is a Christmas movie, because we don’t make the rules, we just make the arguments!