I'll Be Home for Christmas
I'll Be Home for Christmas is a 1998 family comedy starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jessica Biel, Adam LaVorgna and Gary Cole. The film was written by Michael Allin and the screenplay was written by Tom Nursall and Harris Goldberg and was directed by Arlene Sanford (who directed a majority of Ally McBeal episodes).
Jake Wilkinson (Thomas), a snarky college student, decides to return to his home for the holidays, but has to deal with many issues before travelling such as friendship issues with his girlfriend, Allie (Biel), and getting left out in the desert while trying to get to his hometown through 12 states.
- The storyline is weak and predictable.
- Poorly written characters, especially Jake. At one point, Jake hitches a ride with Eddie, a rival from school and they get along well, only for Eddie to throw Jake out for no reason other than the fact that they're "supposed" to dislike each other.
- The tone is surprisingly and unintentionally flat. Jake only decides to visit his family because his father promised him his car. When he arrives at the end, rather than have Jake turn down the offer because he's learned his family is more important, he still gets the car.
- Laughable dialogue.
- Humor that doesn't work. For example: a fart joke involving a dog, having Jake vomit in an old woman's pocketbook (luckily, we don't see the mess he made), and having an old woman lose her dentures during the car trip, especially in a holiday-themed film. Probably the most disgusting piece of humor is the scene where Jake humiliates Eddie by pulling off his towel while he was naked underneath, which is inappropriate for a family film (luckily, we don't see his private in the film).
- The film lacks the holiday charm featured in films such as The Santa Clause or some other Christmas films that were distributed by Disney.
- Plotholes that go nowhere (examples include running a race in a Santa outfit against other Santas, making two horses look like a pair of reindeer and Jake’s relationship with Allie).
- The scene where Jake does a Santa impression is rather awkward.
- The opening credits take a long time to finish and almost forever to end.
- The idea of someone coming home for the holidays is a creative and original idea.
- Jake's story about his mother's death is rather emotional and you kind of have to feel sorry for Jake losing his mother.
- Although Disney failed at making another live-action Christmas film following the success of The Santa Clause, the studio tried their best to make another original Christmas comedy that would appeal to kids and adults alike.
- Jake has a good family and it was nice of them to offer him to come home for Christmas.
- Jake has a change of heart before the film's story ends.
The film was released on November 13, 1998 and received mostly negative reviews from critics and audiences. The film currently holds a 23% "rotten" on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 4 out of 10 and a critic consensus that reads "Neither parent nor child will find any merriment in this mess." Film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both gave the film a "two thumbs down". Roger Ebert gave the film one star and stated in his review "I'll Be Home for Christmas will appeal to people who fail to care if nothing good happens in a movie." Common Sense Media gave the film a 3 out of 5 and stated that "Jon Taylor Thomas' yule tale charming for tweens." Liam Lacey of Globe and Mail called the film "A Christmas turkey."
The film opened up at #6 on its opening weekend receiving $3,898,293 in box office gross and bombed after only receiving $12.2 million against its $30 million budget.