Christmas with Bundy's
Whilst the war is raging in Europe Christmas is coming and the Bundy family are looking forward to it. Their eldest son Mike (Whip Hubley) is returning from overseas as his wife Nora (Courteney Cox - Cocoon: The Return) is soon to give birth, his brother Terrel (Jason Oliver) has leave from base to come home as has Leah (Nancy Travis - Eight Men Out) who is working in a war factory as a welder. It is on her way home she meets soldier Aaron (Peter Gallagher) who with no family is invited to spend Christmas with Bundy's.
Does a movie need to have a purpose or can it survive just as a vision of a slice of life? I am not sure whether a movie can survive just being a slice of life without a story to drive it and it is what is causing me issues with "I'll Be Home for Christmas" a made for TV Christmas movie from 1988. Here is a movie about a family during WWII who are looking forward to Christmas as the entire family are returning including their sons who have been seeing action overseas. It is an effective look at the issues of the time, from the youngest son enthralled by war to the daughter whose boyfriend died overseas but for me it lacks drive, a central storyline to bring it all together and give it a purpose.
It's a shame because "I'll Be Home for Christmas" has a certain nostalgic charm, a quiet simple charm and highlights the various issues of Christmas during WWII none more so than Terrel feeling like he is always second best to his hero brother. But in a way it is lacking a strong central premise for all these characters and subplots to feed off of. Don't get me wrong as its heart is in the right place and it does a good job of delivering the drama surrounding the individual stories especially when ever Isaiah at the Western Union office has to go out to deliver a telegram from the war department to a family who has lost a loved one but it sort of floats along until the final 20 minutes.
Having said that "I'll Be Home for Christmas" has a decent cast with Hal Holbrook and Eva Marie Saint doing a fine job of playing the parents especially Saint as she tries to make it a special Christmas despite rationing making it difficult to put on a big spread. But the other performances from the likes of Courteney Cox, Peter Gallagher and Nancy Travis are just as good, each playing their individual characters nicely, not always believably but in a way that they is easy to watch.
What this all boils down to is that "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is a pleasant Christmas movie which has a nostalgic charm as it looks at Christmas in American during WWII for a family affected by the war. But it suffers from the lack of one strong central storyline to drive it making it feel a little floaty and aimless at times.