Everybody has their favorite Christmas movies, and the reasons they’re so special. You know the lines by heart.
• “Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.”
• “You’ll shoot your eye out.”
And then there are the ones I treasure:
• “Now I have a machine gun. Ho. Ho. Ho.”
• “Great. I’ve kidnapped my (expletive) parents.”
I bring up “Die Hard” and “The Ref” as my favorite Christmas movies every year, and the respective follow-ups of, “No, ‘Die Hard’ isn’t a Christmas movie,” and, “I’ve never heard of ‘The Ref.’ Is it some kind of sports movie?”
I shake my head each time, and explanations begin. I type it out today so maybe I can avoid having this conversation a few times.
I think we all know of “Die Hard,” the action movie starring Bruce Willis that spawned way too many sequels and got away from the main premise.
The original starred Willis as John McClaine, a New York cop visiting his wife at her company’s Christmas party. The building where it’s held, Nakatomi Plaza, is overtaken by professional criminals who play terrorists but are really buying time to rob the company safe.
I know … “How’s that a Christmas movie?”
Sure, well-armed criminals could take over a building at any given time. But specific elements required it be done on Christmas.
The Christmas party guarantees a pool of people who wouldn’t be there on an average weeknight. Christmas Eve creates skeleton security crews that make the takeover easier. The holiday creates a news void that guarantees the takeover is covered en masse by local TV, meaning the police can’t take any shortcuts on the outside with media watching.
So it’s up to John McClaine, who’s only in town for Christmas.
And to those saying it can’t be a Christmas movie because it was released in the summer, guess when it was out on video to give as a gift?
“The Ref” pretty much works the same way. Denis Leary plays a burglar who gets foiled by a booby-trapped mansion, and must hide out in a small town where his only hopes are the ineptitude of the police department and the cooperation of the couple he threatens into harboring him. Sure, this could happen any day of the year, but Christmas ensures visits from the family members who quickly remind you why you only see them once a year.
Plus, you get to see Kevin Spacey on top of his game, well before he was in “The Usual Suspects” or “A Time To Kill.” And it was Leary at his peak, right after his smash album “No Cure for Cancer” and before he became a wise-talking pitchman for Ford and Quaker State and any other company that’s cool with sponsoring a foul-mouthed, quick-tempered Boston comic.
I know that previous sentence is redundant somewhere, but I can’t pinpoint it.
In short … yes, Virginia, “Die Hard” and “The Ref” are Christmas movies, and ones you should add to your lists. Find ’em, rent ’em, buy ’em … or even borrow ’em from me.
After I’ve watched them myself, that is. I know them by heart, but the best part is watching again.
Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Clovis Media Inc. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by email: