Here’s a test, name the two biggest and best action movies of the late 80s that don’t involve sci-fi elements of any kind. Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick DING. Did you say Lethal Weapon (1987) and Die Hard (1988)? Of course you did, what else could the answer be? And do you think it’s just a coincidence that both movies happen to take place around Christmas? Yeah, of course it is.
In fact, I can’t even say that I watched both movies to get even more in the Christmas spirit because I watched Lethal Weapon before Thanksgiving (finally giving my LW DVD 4-pack a spin). I did however watch Die Hard on NetBox for the purposes of this post. I don’t have the same history with these late 80s movies that a lot of people my age do, I got to them later around the time I started hitting up Family Video (when I wasn’t watching tons and tons of horror flicks). I still love them, but it’s not that kind of nostalgic love, I think they’re just really good action movies that keep me interested, have great action scenes and interesting characters. I’m sure you don’t need Lethal Weapon explained to you, but Mel Gibson’s the crazy cop and Danny Glover’s a few days away from retiring. We first see Glover naked in a tub as his family comes in to celebrate his birthday, which is weird on two fronts. Why would his kids interrupt him during bathroom time, especially knowing he might be naked, and what kind of man takes a bath? The same man who almost died on a toilet seat, that’s what kind! Gibson’s first scene has him taking out a sniper with no kind of protection and just a handgun. Awesome. Really everything about LW is great. Gibson’s suicidal tendencies get a little over the top, but then after you find out why he’s crazy it doesn’t seem so far-fetched, especially if you’re already a bit crazy. Really, you don’t need me to tell you about how cool the movie is or how great the final fight scene between Gibson and Gary Busey’s Mr. Joshua (GREAT name) is or how great the chemistry between the two stars is. So, what kind of Christmas connection do we have? Not a ton. It’s getting towards Christmas time during some of the chase scenes towards the end and then the very end takes place on Christmas Day, with Gibson wishing his dead wife a merry Christmas and then heading over to Glover’s family’s place to celebrate with them. Oh, also, the movie starts with “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Which I only bring up because Die Hard starts off with the epically cool “Christmas In Hollis” by Run-DMC. In addition to both starting with Christmas songs and being awesome action movies from the 80s that take place around Christmas, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard both have some really lame posters. Just look at these things? Black and white? Really? Lame. Again, I’m sure you know what Die Hard is about, but for the uninitiated, Bruce Willis flies to LA to visit his estranged wife during her company’s Christmas party (yup, they actually call it a Christmas party, not a holiday party). Soon enough, a group of foreign thieves posing as terrorists lead by Alan Rickman take over the building and Willis decides to take them out on his own with cops and feds eventually showing up outside. Side note, the doctor in Funny People looks a LOT like one of the henchman, hence the jokes. Anyway, Die Hard is just as rad as I remembered. As far as Christmas elements go, though, you’ve got the song in the beginning, the Christmas party and Willis writing “Now I Have A Machine Gun Ho-Ho-Ho” on the first henchman he kills. Aside from that, there’s not much. But what do you expect? Him to leap off the building wrapping himself in tinsel instead of a fire hose? That’d be crazy!
So, while neither Lethal Weapon nor Die Hard are exactly steeped in the Christmas spirit (you know, peace on earth, good will towards man), you might be able to trade watching one of the classics for one of these bad boys. It’s A Wonderful Life for Leathal Weapon? Miracle On 34th Street for Die Hard? Not a bad swap if I do say so myself (or you can just stay home all day and watch whatever the hell you want like me).