I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Jake Wilkinson (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) is a fast talking but self-centred student at a
California college. Instead of going home to his family in New York for Christmas, he
wants to spend it on the beach with his girlfriend Allie (Jessica Biel). She, however, is
determined to go home. But when Jakeís father (Gary Cole) offers him a Porsche if he
makes it home, Jake decides to fly back. But things go horribly wrong when one of
Jakeís campus scams is foiled by Eddie (Adam Lavorgna), and Jake finds himself in the
desert dressed as Santa, with no money and little hope of making it to New York in time.
But the lure of the Porsche, and seeing Allie travelling with Eddie, make Jake all the
more determined to make it; whatever it takes.
"Let me say at the outset, Iím completely the wrong demographic for this
movie. Its commercial appeal is based almost entirely around Jonathan Taylor Thomas, best
known as the smart-mouthed son on Tim Allenís Home Improvement TV series. Now, I have
nothing against Thomas, you understand, but I donít really see the attraction. But,
purely as a film, Iíll be Home for Christmas is a thin exercise in recycled
storylines, cookie cutter characters and schmaltz. The holes in the plot are huge, the
acting ordinary and direction rather confused. The underlying 'theme' about finding the
true meaning of Christmas is lip service at best. If thatís what youíre looking
for, watch Itís a Wonderful Life; or even When the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Ironically, for me at least, this film reinforced all the worst things about the holiday
season - crass commercialism and phony sincerity. Despite a couple of amusing scenes,
Iíll be Home for Christmas is ultimately a star vehicle for Thomas and little more.
However, in a sense, the film is immune from any criticism. No matter what the reviews,
its target audience will see it anyway."
"It's probably entirely fitting that after spending a decade playing one of Tim Allen's sons in TV's hugely popular Home Improvement, Jonathan Taylor Thomas should make his big screen debut with a Disney feature which promotes the kind of formulaic conventions usually associated with the average tele-movie. Written by Harris Goldberg and Tom Nursall, I'll Be Home for Christmas posits Taylor as a smug, opportunistic college kid who agrees to come home for the holidays only on the proviso that his father hand him the keys to the family car - a classic 1957 Porsche. Thanks to the unselfish ministrations of the various people he encounters during his subsequent cross-country journey, the self-centred campus wheeler-dealer gradually begins to see the error of his ways, and finally arrives home with a healthier appreciation of some of life's moral imperatives. To be fair, the film doesn't strive to be anything more than a G-rated, production line caper aimed squarely at a fairly young, undemanding holiday audience. And though Arlene Sanford's direction is uninhibited by finesse, Thomas and his mainly youthful co-stars make for an attractive, sit-com perfect ensemble, and the film's running time is a blissfully brief 95 minutes."
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SOFCOM MOVIE TIMES
I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS (G)
CAST: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jessica Biel, Adam Lavorna, Gary Cole, Eve Gordon, Lauren
Maltby, Andrew Lauer, Sean O'Bryan
DIRECTOR: Arlene Sanford
PRODUCER: David Hoberman, Tracey Trench
SCRIPT: Harris Goldberg & Tom Nursall
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hiro Narita
EDITOR: Anita Brandt-Burgoyne
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Cynthia Charette
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 10, 1998