It must be the holiday season already. Stores are stocked with decorations galore, and the local theaters are stocked with “feel-good” holiday films, like I’ll Be Home for Christmas. However, don’t be fooled by its title…you aren’t likely to build up much holiday cheer by forcing yourself to sit through this torturous ninety-minute debacle.
Jonathan Taylor Thomas stars as the annoying prep school kid, Jake. Jake is the type of smarmy kid who tries to talk his way out of everything, and mostly succeeds. His father (Gary Cole), believing the only way his son will return home for the holidays, resorts to bribery. If Jake can make it home by 6:00 Christmas Eve, he will get his dad’s classic Porsche as a present. Jake would do anything for the car…but he runs into a little bit of trouble along the way…
A group of angry jocks, angry at Jake for a failed scheme of his, kidnaps him, glues him into a Santa suit, and strands him in the California desert. Penniless, Jake must make his cross-country trek in a few short days if he ever hopes to see that car…or his girlfriend.
You see, his charms have been wearing thin on his girlfriend, Allie (Jessica Biel). She’s had one too many stories and lies, and when he fails to meet her for the Christmas return home, she decides to take a ride with Jake’s rival, Eddie (Adam Lavorgna), instead.
All of this might be the slightest bit interesting if we cared one iota about Jake and/or his predicament. But we don’t. From the get-go, his cocky attitude is extremely offputing, and his “charms” never grow on us. Frankly, his dad might as well keep the car, and Allie would certainly be better off with the only slightly-less annoying Eddie.
Of course, we are treated to all sorts of wild adventures and wacky, “colorful” characters which Jake runs across in his cross-country trek. Anyone who’s seen any sort of road-trip movie will be intimately familiar with the type. Most of these are not near as interesting, nor as entertaining, as they might have appeared on paper (though it’s even doubtful that some of these appeared interesting there either).
I’ll Be Home for Christmas is reminiscent of an annual present that you don’t really want to get. It means well, but is best left alone and forgotten.