AiPT! discuss their favorite Christmas movies and try to decide if ‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas movie.
What is your favorite Christmas movie?
Davis PIttman: I love Christmas movies such as: Christmas with the Kranks, The Holiday, Christmas Vacation, Love the Coopers, The Family Stone, and more… but The Polar Express has to be my number one. It’s my favorite because everything about it just screams holiday spirit, it embodies everything about the joy of Christmas.
Brian Clements: I’ve got a few that are always-watch movies, like Muppet Christmas Carol, Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and Scrooged, but my favorite is A Christmas Story. The “24 Hours of A Christmas Story” marathon is like a holiday inside a holiday for my family. My parents grew up in Philadelphia during the same time the movie is set and the working-class setting sits Christmas in a very different light than most movies about the Yuletide. Where else do you get an anthology of stories that includes the decapitation of a goose, a tongue frozen to a flagpole, and a young boy coming of age while putting his eye out? It’s the best. There’s a plug-in leg lamp next to my desk right now, in-fact.
Justin Cohen: I watch the original animated Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas every year and that’s my all time favorite, but it’s technically a TV special. My other favorites are Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. They all bring the Christmas spirit out in full force for me.
Megan Wallen: My favorite, which I watch year-round, is Home Alone. I also of course like Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), and The Santa Clause.
Nathaniel Muir: I also love the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas and A Christmas Story, but I also think Love, Actually is fantastic. I am not the biggest fan of rom-coms, but this one hits all the right notes. Just like any great Christmas movie, it brings out the spirit of the season. Plus, I think Hugh Grant is awesome.
David Hildebrand: Emmet Otter is the first one that I can remember watching and I will always love it but I think my favorite is A Christmas Story. We all have that one Christmas when there was something we really want it and if we were lucky if we got it. I think A Christmas Story reminds of that time when Christmas was much more enjoyable and life was much simpler.
What are the elements of a perfect Christmas movie?
Davis: Personally, I think you have to have an overarching feeling of the holiday spirit, how the film does that depends on the plot, but I want it to truly be a “Christmas movie”. I still want a well written script and good likable character, as I do with every film, but I especially want good chemistry when it comes to holiday films. I say that because I believe relationships (whether that be between family or two individuals in a romantic sense) and what some would call “feel good sentiment” is just necessary for this genre.
Justin: It needs to bring out the holiday spirit effectively. The movie needs to revolve around Christmas, and there should be some sort of romantic/family/friend relationship drama that will ultimately be resolved in some way around the holidays.
Brian: There must be snow, family gathering, some minor drama that any other time of the year wouldn’t matter as much, and a minor miracle. To whit: The Muppet Family Christmas: Fozzie’s mom is interrupted as she heads to her vacation cruise by Fozzie and the Muppets wanting to stay with her for the holidays. The snow begins to fall as more and more guests arrive. Ms. Piggy is lagging behind and gets caught in the snowstorm. The Swedish Chef wants to murder a turkey for dinner, is tricked into trying to murder Big Bird and has his heart softened by a gift of bird seed. The Christmas Miracle comes when Piggy is rescued by Doc – dressed as Santa – and they all sing. Perfect.
Megan: I’m not too big on Christmas movies because they all end with a cheesy, happy conclusion, so I’m probably not the best person to answer this. What I enjoy most, though, is when there is snow and when decorations cover the entire set.
Nathaniel: I think the way they manipulate our emotions is one of the most important elements of a great Christmas movie. They are supposed to have this big happy convoluted ending that reminds us of what the Christmas spirit is. Along the way, a lesson needs to be learned and there is an element of self discovery. And like Brian said, a minor miracle that would only work this time of year.
David H: I agree with Megan that each of them have that cheesy ending. So making the perfect Christmas movie is the journey getting to the cheesy ending. You have to have characters that are likable and not lay the goody goody themes on too heavy.
Be honest: What is your favorite Hallmark Christmas movie?
Davis: One belief I’m very consistent on is that Hallmark is unwatchable… with that being said I have always loved an older ABC Family movie called Holiday in Handcuffs starring Melissa Joan Hart and Mario Lopez.
Justin: As someone who considers Christmas his favorite holiday, this may sound crazy…but I’ve never seen any of the Hallmark Christmas movies.
Brian: I honestly can’t stand these, but I’ll throw in a shout-out to Atlanta playwright Topher Payne who wrote the Hallmark movie Broadcasting Christmas starring Dean Cain and Melissa Joan Hart. Are they blackmailing her?
Megan: I’m with Justin. I’ve never watched one before that I can remember.
Nathaniel: Mariah Carey’s directorial debut isn’t a classic by any means, but A Christmas Melody does succeed at getting the Christmas feeling across. Sorta. Carey playing the bitchy head of the PTA is a role made for her and the constant long shots on cans of Folgers Coffee are great for laughs.
David H: I have never watched a Hallmark movie. I was gonna say Lethal Soccer Mom but that is Lifetime. No, I didn’t watch that one either but the title is awesome.
What popular Christmas movie do you not like?
Davis: Scrooged, the 1988 Bill Murray parody.
Brian: Davis is wrong. Scrooged isn’t a parody, it’s an adaptation of the Dickens’ story. I don’t care for Elf all that much. Will Ferrell’s screamy comedy mixed with Zoe Deschanel’s saccharine manic pixie dream girl just rub me the wrong way.
Justin: I also am not a big fan of Elf. It’s decent, but I don’t understand why so many people hail it as their favorite Christmas movie. I don’t find it as funny as others and it definitely doesn’t have evoke that magical, Christmas-y feeling that so many other holiday movies make me feel.
Nathaniel: I actually did not care start appreciating National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation until recently. I think its because I saw the first two so many times. I don’t know if they count as classics, but I don’t care for Bad Santa or The Santa Clause. I also agree about Elf. As quotable as it may be, it doesn’t get the Christmas spirit across.
What classic Christmas movie have you never seen?
Davis: I’ve seen most classic holiday films, but one big one I’ve just never watched is the original 1947 Miracle on 34th Street.
Justin: I’ve also never seen the original Miracle on 34th Street.
Brian: Having done extensive research, I think I have seen every “classic” Christmas movie ever made. I haven’t seen Jingle All the Way, though. Does that count? Otherwise I think it would be The Bishop’s Wife.
Megan: As of right now, I haven’t seen Miracle On 34th Street or White Christmas, but I’m planning on watching both soon.
Nathaniel: I just saw It’s a Wonderful Life in the past few years. Man, have I been missing out. I have also never seen White Christmas. I should probably make it a point to see it this year.
David H: I haven’t seen White Christmas. I’m not opposed to watching it. I’ve just never sat down to watch it.
Bonus question: Is Die Hard a Christmas movie or just an action movie set in December?
Brian: Die Hard is a Christmas movie. You know how I’m sure? Replace the Christmas-themed lines with any other holiday and it would be the biggest joke of a movie. Nothing else works. Christmas is central to the plot. “Gobble, Gobble, Now I’ve got a machine gun?” Please.
Justin: Die Hard is a Christmas movie. It’s all centered around the Christmas holiday. There’s family drama resolved over the course of the movie, a main ingredient of most Christmas movies. It may not bring out the feels the way some other holiday movies do, but it does have a Christmas spirit to it.
Nathaniel: Absolutely! So maybe the drama isn’t minor and no there isn’t a Christmas miracle and it certainly doesn’t toy with your emotions, but it definitely evokes the Christmas spirit. Die Hard may not be a traditional Christmas movie, but it gets the Christmas feeling across better than any Christmas movie of the past decade.
David H: I find this amusing how this pops up in conversations every year. I will say it is a Christmas movie. Lethal Weapon is the runner-up for best action Christmas movie. I can’t hear Jingle Bell Rock without thinking about a topless chick jumping off the balcony of a tall building. Merry Christmas!