Home for Christmas needs Home Improvements
The thing to remember about "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is that it was made back in 1998 when Jonathan Taylor Thomas was at the height of his popularity having spent several years on TV as the cute kid in "Home Improvements" and had provided the voice of Young Simba in "the Lion King". As such this is a vehicle which trades on Thomas's popularity, the cheeky look and boyish charm which young girls liked. Remove Jonathan Taylor Thomas from the equation and what "I'll Be Home for Christmas" ends up is a mediocre at best comedy about an eventful journey home for Christmas.
Jake (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) has no intentions of going home to New York to spend Christmas with his dad, his dad's girlfriend and his little sister and he has even traded in the ticket his dad sent him so he can take his girlfriend Allie (Jessica Biel - Playing for Keeps) away for a sun filled Christmas vacation. But between Allie wanting to spend Christmas with her family and his dad promising him the classic Porsche if he gets home by 6pm on Christmas Eve Jake relents. Unfortunately after falling foul of a group of college jocks the journey is not going to be simple as he wakes up in the middle of the desert dressed as Santa.
What "I'll Be Home for Christmas" should be about is Jake's mishap filled attempt to get home in time so that he can win the Porsche. And as such we have various misadventures from almost getting run over to ending up in a Santa fun run which in fairness is all mildly amusing. But when you compare this unoriginal idea to other movies which feature people desperately trying to get home it is all quite ordinary and relies heavily on Jonathan Taylor Thomas' likeability to make it work.
Of course alongside this we are meant to have some depth as the self-centred Jake discovers the true meaning of Christmas on his travels through the various people he meets. As such he meets a sick child who is going to spend Christmas in hospital but would love to be home with his family and also a Mayor who donates money to the needy all of which leads to Jake discovering the joy of family and giving. But to be frank this isn't some road to Damascus conversion because basically Jake goes from being shallow to understanding in the blink of an eye.
What does this mean? Well aside from the fact "I'll Be Home for Christmas" also stars Gary Cole and a young Jessica Biel this is a movie which really only trades on Jonathan Taylor Thomas's popularity and boyish charms. And Thomas delivers everything you expect from the cheeky smile, the charm when he talks himself out of trouble and so much more. But because the script is weak so is Thomas's performance as we get one cheeky smile after another and not a lot else.
What this all boils down to is that "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is a mediocre mishap journey home for Christmas movie with nothing about it which is really stand out. And in truth it is a movie which predominantly relies on Jonathan Taylor Thomas's boyish charms and popularity and unfortunately it over relies on them.
Tags: Christmas Movies