(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)
The Movie: "I'll Be Home For Christmas"
Where You Can Stream It: Disney+
The Pitch: This year, when you think of live-action Disney movies involving Santa Claus, you're more likely to bring up Tim Allen's "The Santa Clause" thanks to the brand new Disney+ sequel series, "The Santa Clauses" (which will apparently be returning for a second season). However, the comedian isn't the only "Home Improvement" cast member to branch out into holiday movies. During the popular sitcom's final season in 1998, Jonathan Taylor Thomas starred in "I'll Be Home For Christmas."
Due to his father remarrying less than a year after his mother passed away, hot shot boarding school student Jake (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) has grown estranged from his family back in New York. That's why he traded in his plane ticket home for the holidays for two tickets to Cabo San Lucas as a gift for his girlfriend, Allie (Jessica Biel). But when she declines in favor of spending Christmas with her family instead, Jake's dad sweetens the deal to get his son to come home: If Jake can make it from Los Angeles, CA to Larchmont, NY by 6:00pm on Christmas Eve for dinner, then he'll get his dad's vintage 1957 Porch 356.
However, just as he's about to join Allie on the drive back to their hometown, Jake's rival Eddie (Adam LaVorgna) gets revenge on him by gluing a Santa suit, hat, and beard onto him and dumping him in the middle of the desert. And to make matters worse, Eddie and Allie are now driving east together.
With no money, no identification, and no way to contact anyone, Jake has to find a way to make the cross-country trek to claim his prize.
Why It's Essential Viewing
Celebrated as a teen heartthrob at the time, this project marked the third live-action film that JTT starred in for Walt Disney Pictures, with the others being "Man of the House" and "Tom and Huck." While none of these movies reached the success of his first theatrical role for the House of Mouse (where he voiced the young version of the lead character in a little movie called "The Lion King"), all three are fun family fare, which is exactly the sort of thing my family is typically looking to watch during holiday gatherings.
But what makes "I'll Be Home For Christmas" perfect for this scenario (other than actually being about Christmas) is the message it shares. Throughout his trip, JTT's Jake encounters people that show appreciation for the relationships in their lives. In many cases, they come to this revelation thanks to Jake, like thief Nolan who decides to face the consequences of his actions after he sees how bright he made Christmas for patients in a children's hospital, or police officer Max who is inspired to win back his wife with a grand gesture involving jolly old St. Nick. Jake even secures a surefire way back to New York in time when he wins the $1000 prize in a midwestern Santa race, but he gives it up when he realizes that the winner usually donates the pot to impoverished members of the community that don't have a fancy Christmas Eve dinner waiting for them.
Over the course of the movie, Jake slowly realizes that material things are nice, but the real valuable things in this world are the people that you cross paths with throughout your life and the connections you make with them.
Where The Love Light Gleams
At the beginning of "I'll Be Home For Christmas," Jake fancies himself a Ferris Bueller type of lovable scamp that's constantly scheming his way out of situations. In reality, he's a selfish jerk that doesn't trust his girlfriend. Seriously, he should've known that nothing was going on between her and Eddie. However, over the course of 86 minutes, he sees the error of his ways and decides to embrace spending time with his family instead of accepting his coveted car.
Not everyone is so lucky to have what Jake has in their lives and it can be pretty lonely for some people around this time of year. Even the Bing Crosby song this movie is named after ends on a melancholy note as the person singing says, "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams." But no matter how you define family in your life, it's always important to cherish your loved ones while you can. And if you need a light, fun reminder why, then "I'll Be Home For Christmas" is the movie for you.
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The post The Daily Stream: I'll Be Home For Christmas Reminds Us Of The Real Reason For The Season appeared first on /Film.