Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Christmas Movie Rubric

What makes a movie a "Christmas movie"?

This year I had several friends and family tell me that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. I had never seen Die Hard, since it was released when I was two years old. This weekend I watched it with my dad and really enjoyed it, but I had a hard time accepting it as a "Christmas movie."

Of course, those who claim it as a Christmas movie (the number of followers in my circle gaining volume) are die hards about it. Pun majorly intended.

In defense of my opinion that Die Hard is not a Christmas movie, I thought of movies that I call Christmas movies and discovered that they're not necessarily any more "Christmasy" than Die Hard. It therefore raised the following question:

What makes a movie a "Christmas movie"? Let's explore:

The Rubric

1. Is the word "Christmas" in the title of the movie?
Yes? It's a Christmas movie.
No? Move onto next question.

2. Does the movie include characters such as Santa Claus, Rudolph, Scrooge, or other classic Christmas characters?
Yes? It's a Christmas movie.
No? Move onto next question.

3. Does the movie take place or include scenes during the Christmas season?
Yes? Move on to next question.
No? Not a Christmas movie

4. Does the movie include scenes where the characters celebrate Christmas?
Yes? Move on to next question.
No? Not a Christmas movie.

5. Does any character in the movie make a decision or undergo a change in moral character which is heavily influenced by Christmas?
Yes? It's a Christmas movie.
No? Move on to next question.

6. Is Christmas one of the main focuses of the movie?
Yes? It's a Christmas movie.
No? Not a Christmas movie.


Die Hard's Rubric Challenge

Let's put Die Hard to the test.

1. Is the word "Christmas" in the title of the movie?
No? Move onto next question.

It's called "Die Hard."


2. Does the movie include characters such as Santa Claus, Rudolph, Scrooge, or other classic Christmas characters?
No? Move onto next question.

Plastic santa in the closet doesn't count as a character.


3. Does the movie take place or include scenes during the Christmas season?
Yes? Move on to next question.

The movie takes place on Christmas Eve.


4. Does the movie include scenes where the characters celebrate Christmas?
Yes? Move on to next question.

John came to his wife's office Christmas party.


5. Does any character in the movie make a decision or undergo a change in moral character which is heavily influenced by Christmas as part of the plot?
Yes? It's a Christmas movie.

Technically, John McClain's initial choice to travel to L.A. to be with his family is because of Christmas. It could be argued whether or not that decision was part of the plot, since the film opens with him landing in L.A, decision already made.


6. Is Christmas one of the main focuses of the movie?
No? Not a Christmas movie.

The focus of the movie is survival and good triumphing over evil. Not Christmas.


According to this self-developed rubric, Die Hard sits on the fence on whether or not it's a Christmas movie. Using the phrase "Now I have a machine gun. Ho, ho, ho," doesn't throw it over to the Christmas movie side. It failed question six and only passed question five with explanation. It's just a tough call, which is why I called it into question in the first place.

I put some of my favorite movies through the rubric, and they don't pass so easily either. Some of my failed movies were Meet Me In St. Louis, Little Women, You've Got Mail, and When Harry Met Sally. There's Christmas scenes, but that's about it.

I hope this rubric is helpful to you as you determine your holiday movie viewing schedule and what truly constitues a "Christmas movie."

I'm a fan of Die Hard and I recommend anyone who can stomach violence to watch it. But don't watch it with your kids, because they only say "Merry Christmas" if it's followed by M-F-er. Yippie ki-yay...

What other Christmas movies barely squeak past the rubric? Do you think my rubric is comprehensive or have I missed something important? I want to hear your feedback, especially from you die hard Die Hard fans!


Also - check out Ray Lau's flowchart of my rubric!
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