What Qualifies a Movie as a Christmas Movie? The Answer Might Surprise You

Movie watchers all over the world have long debated whetheror not DieHard is a Christmas movie. After all, the film takes place on Christmasday. The action-packed nature of the film, however, forces critics to arguethat it merely isn’t a Christmas-themed movie, regardless of the yuletidebackdrop. The ongoing debate forces everyone to ask one question- what makes a moviea Christmas movie?  

Does a Christmas movie have to be set around Christmas?

The simple answer is yes. The season that a film is set inmatters immensely, at least when you are talking about such an easily recognizableperiod of the calendar year. TheHollywood Reporter argues that flicks that are consistently considered Christmasfilms don’t have to be entirely set during the holiday season, though.

As the Hollywood Reporter notes, some of the mostbeloved movies within the genre are not wholly encompassed by the holidayseason. For example, MeetMe In St. Louis has holiday themes, but the majority of the flick hasnothing to do with Christmas. Still, the musical, produced in 1944, isconsidered a holiday classic. The same is true for other holiday classics, sothe amount of time devoted to Christmas doesn’t seem to matter, but it’s safeto say that the film has to have some holiday cheer even to be considered forentrance into the seasonal genre.

Does the genre matter?

If the season of the year that the film is set in is onlymarginally relevant to defining a movie as a Christmas movie, then does thegenre of the movie important? This seems to be more important than otherfactors, but still, movies in several genres are considered Christmas movies.

The comedy category appears to have the most quintessentialChristmas movies. Few people would debate whether or not Home Alone, NationalLampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Four Christmases, and A Christmas Storyare Christmas movies. The drama genre and musical genre also have their fairshare of Christmas classics. It’s a Wonderful Life, It Happened on FifthAvenue and the 2008 drama, A Christmas Tale are all very much dramaticChristmas Movies.

That doesn’t mean the action genre doesn’t have notable entries.The flicks simply aren’t seen as Christmas tales because they center more onthe action than on the time of year they are set in. Die Hard likelywould have worked, storyline-wise, just as well if it was set in the spring. Timenotes that Batman Returns, Lethal Weapon, and KissKiss Bang Bang could all be considered Christmas flicks, but generallyaren’t because of their action-packed storylines.

What movies are considered classic Christmas flicks?

It would seem that both setting and genre are essentialelements of a Christmas movie, but only marginally so. Now, it’s time to take alook at the unequivocal Christmas movies and figure out why they are worthy ofa holiday binge-watch. AChristmas Story and A Miracle on 34th Street aretwo films that fall into the genre without question. Both take place during theChristmas season and are marketed as Christmas films. The same is true for HomeAlone, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, and FourChristmases.

The films share more than marketing and backdrops incommon. All the movies that are unequivocal Christmas classics rely on familialdynamics to drive their storylines forward. Whether it is about the joy of theseason or the dissatisfaction with the people the characters spend the holidayswith, all Christmas films seem to share the same common bond of family. Isn’tthat what the holiday season is all about anyway? The family bonds we have, andsometimes wish we didn’t.

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