I’ll Be Home for Christmas Review

Eddie: Hey jingle balls! Move your candy canes!

Beware: Spoilers may follow

Jonathan Taylor Thomas was something of an icon during the 90s. Coming off his role in Home Improvement, he took his shot at movies which resulted in mostly stinkers. And among the worst of them being the holiday movie we’re discussing today. So what better to do than dive right in about everything that’s wrong with it? 

The story involves college student Jake Wilkinson (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) whose estranged father (Gary Cole) convinces him to come home for Christmas promising him a Porsche if he makes it home by 6:00. Jake is however dumped in the desert in a Santa Suit by a bunch of bullies from the football team with no money or identification to help him get home in time. Meanwhile his girlfriend Allie (Jessica Biel) has no idea of his whereabouts and accepts a ride by Jake’s rival Eddie (Adam LaVorgna).  

The setup for the story is basically an excuse to put Jake through some wacky shenanigans to help people and learn the true meaning of Christmas in the process. The main problem? The character of Jake is a very unapologetic and unlikable character throughout most of the movie in almost everything he has to go through. There’s nothing of him accepting responsibility for his lies and selfishness. Allie claims he’s a romantic but really all he really comes across as is a liar. The only thing that really matters in all this is that he is able to get from one point to another and that the people Jake comes across only think they’re being helped while Jake is able to twist the situation to his own benefit. And this happens all throughout the movie.  

There’s nothing really wrong with Jonathan Taylor’s performance here but it’s just that there’s really nothing he could bring to make this character even remotely likable. Biel is mostly playing the role of the thankless girlfriend. And LaVorgna as Eddie is almost no different than Jake. Like he is just as big of a jerk as Jake is if not more. With all of this there’s little to no reason to get invested in any of the stakes nor is there any reason to care for any of the characters.  

At the end of the day this movie isn’t so much as horrifically bad as it is just the dull kind of bad. There’s definitely worse to get angry at. But its Christmas morals are contrived, its characters aren’t enjoyable and Jake’s shenanigans have neither heart nor humor. If you’re looking for Christmas cheer well you’re not gonna find it here. You’d have a lot better luck with the 1988 TV movie (and even that’s not very good).