Follow TV Tropes


Film / I'll Be Home for Christmas

Go To

I'll Be Home for Christmas is a 1998 Disney family comedy film directed by Arlene Sanford, starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Jessica Biel.

Jake Wilkinson (Thomas) is an 18-year-old boy attending Palisades Academy in California. For the past few years, he has not been home for Christmas since his mother died and his father (Gary Cole) remarried not long after. A few days before Christmas, his father offers to give him his vintage 1957 Porsche if he is home in time for Christmas dinner at 6:00 P.M. on Christmas Eve.

However, Eddie Taffet (Adam LaVorgna), a fellow student nicknamed "The Ed-Man", has the hots for Jake's girlfriend Allie Henderson (Biel). When he hears that Jake promised to help some jocks cheat a test, he puts a stop to it and causes them to fail. With Jake easily to blame, he gets left in the middle of the desert dressed in a Santa suit that's glued to his body. With no money or ID, Jake must find a way to get home for Christmas to get that car.

Tropes seen in this film:

  • Bad Boss: Eddie ruins his own gang's attempt to cheat on their midterms so that he can rally them against Jake and get them to help him strand Jake in the desert.
  • Big Bad: Eddie Taffet, who essentially resorts to two occasions of kidnapping in order to try to steal a girl away from her boyfriend.
  • Brick Joke: Allie comments that she won't trust Jake even if he shows up in a one-horse open sleigh. Later in the film, he shows up in exactly that... and wins her back.
  • College Is "High School, Part 2": The film never clarifies if Jake is a college or boarding school student. The opening title calls it "Palisades College" but Allie refers to it as an "academy" and the students still use hallway lockers big enough for stereotypical high school jocks to stick a nerd into.
  • Cool Car: The MacGuffin that sets the entire chain of action in motion.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Jake gets furious over his girlfriend kissing Ed-Man and growls "I'll kill him" under his breath.
  • Crying Wolf: Jakes manages to call his father and tells him that he's in the middle of nowhere with no money. However, with all the excuses he has made to avoid being home for Christmas, he isn't believed.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Jake attempts this when he thinks Allie slept with Eddie, who at the moment is only wearing a towel. When Eddie eggs him on by saying that all that happened (a kiss under the mistletoe) was good, Jake angrily pulls the towel off.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Demanding to know the location of a guest and threatening the receptionist quickly gets Jake tossed out of the hotel.
    • Eddie stranding Jake in the middle of the dessert in a Santa outfit with no food or water, potentially hours away from civilization would be considered this. Had Jake died out there, or any point in trying to get home, he would be a suspect for kidnapping and potentially murder. Given their whereabouts would be questioned on account of the fact they would have have dissapeared for several hours just drive to said dessert.
  • Exact Words: Jake's father offers to give him his Porsche if he is home by 6:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and not a minute later. He gets the car because, despite showing up late, he was just a few seconds late, and not a minute late.
  • Hate Sink: Eddie Taffet is Jake Wilkinson's rival for Allie Henderson's affections. Wanting to get Jake out of the way so he can have Allie for himself, Eddie sabotages Jake's attempt to help Eddie's own friends cheat on their midterms while also for the second time snagging and imprisoning Jake's friend Ian in his own locker, this time over Christmas break. Eddie then has his friends help him strand Jake in the desert with no means of getting out easily and convinces Allie to ride with him, while later preventing Jake from getting to them at a rest stop at one point too. He later seems willing to help Jake ride home after Allie leaves them both, only to abandon Jake again when Eddie shows jealousy and decides it's not in his character to do so.
  • High-School Hustler: Jake is a college version of this, because in this movie, college bears a striking resemblance to high school, but with dorms.
  • Hurrying Home for the Holidays: Jake has until 6:00 P.M. on Christmas Eve to get home for Christmas dinner.
  • Idiot Ball: Somehow, a teacher doesn't think twice when three students start using their pagers in the middle of a test.
  • Jerkass: Ed-Man. He tries to steal Jake's girlfriend and he openly admits that he can't help do anything good for anyone else because it'll damage his reputation. Still, he wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't so worried about it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jake.
  • Karma Houdini: The guys in Eddie's gang who stranded Jake in the desert and locked Ian in his locker are never seen again, and presumably got away with murder. That said, their own leader screwed them over and manipulated them, so you can argue they were also victims of circumstance.
  • Keep the Reward: In the middle of the film, Jake enters into a marathon of Santa-dressed runners for a cash prize which he can use to get back home in time. He wins but only due to the Santa that was in the lead being a fair sport and allowing him to catch up when he ran into trouble. He learns later that the Santa was the mayor of the town he's in and uses the money for charity. Feeling guilty, Jake finds the mayor's house and leaves the money in his mailbox for him to find later.
  • Lack of Empathy: At no point in the film does anyone take notice (save for sister at the end) at Jake who throughout it, would likely be suffering from heatstroke from traversing a dessert, pneumonia from being out in the rain and snow, having likely had little to eat or drink and his Santa outfit smelling like sweat, filth and urine due to being unable to take it off. Keep in mind Jake is a late teen/early college age kid so it's doubtful he would be seen as a bum.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • The bus driver quickly realizes that Jake played on the goodwill of the passengers, and so lets Allie take his seat.
    • Eddie gets his near the end of the movie: He insults two cops and ends up getting arrested with him begging Jake for help, only for the latter to happily wave goodbye.
  • MacGuffin: The Porsche. The 1957 Porsche. THE Porsche that they restored by hand. THE Porsche that, in Jake's mind, would look best with Jake at the wheel.
  • Naked People Are Funny: At least, Jake seems to think so after removing the Ed-Man's towel.
  • National Stereotypes: One of the Santas in the marathon looks like a professional runner and is physically fit in stark contrast to average build Jake and all the overweight Santas. He is called Kenyan Santa in the credits.
  • Offscreen Inertia: Ian is last seen locked in the school lockers at night, just before winter break, meaning that there will be no one to find him until January when classes resume, by which point he will be long dead of starvation.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Ed-Man, with the sinking realization that he has just called two police officers, in full Christmas costume, "jingle balls".
  • Put on a Prison Bus: Eddie.
  • Redemption Rejection: Eddie, in an unfair turn of events, leaves Jake on the road, believing that it is not in his nature to do so.
  • Road Trip Plot: Featuring the rare combination of hitchhiking with Tom Jones fans, hitchhiking with a purveyor of stolen goods, hitchhiking with a police officer, taking a bus, hitchhiking with the sworn enemy, running a fun-run, flying in a cargo hold, grabbing the roof of a passing car and finishing in a one-horse open sleigh.
  • Rule of Funny: Allison's voicemail only seems to allow messages of no more than five seconds, far too short for any message actually explaining who called her and why. But if it lasted any longer, we wouldn't have Jake blurting "Desert Santa buzzard tumbleweed!" into the phone to try and explain himself before he's cut off.
  • Scenery Censor: Eddie's private area is censored by a mug of orange juice after his towel is pulled off.
  • Third-Person Person: The Ed-Man.
  • Titled After the Song: Although the song we hear first under the opening credits is, weirdly enough, "Cool Yule."
  • Under the Mistletoe: Allie and The Ed-Man find themselves unexpectedly under it, which a less-than-thrilled Jake sees on television due to fortuitous reporting.