Awfully Good: I’ll Be Home For Christmas + We Wish You A Turtle Christmas

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

I'll Be Home For Christmas (1998)

Director: Arlene Sanford
Stars: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Jessica Biel, Gary Cole

A fast-talking, Christmas-hating teen gets abandoned in the desert with nothing but a Santa suit and two days to make it home for holidays.

Remember those three weeks in the mid-90s when Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a huge star? At one point the HOME IMPROVEMENT actor turned teeny bopper heartthrob attempted to transition into movies, leaving in his wake a string of nostalgically terrible family films: MAN OF THE HOUSE with Chevy Chase, TOM AND HUCK with Brad Renfro, PINOCCHIO with Martin Landau…and this bewildering holiday movie.

He wasn't the first guy to offer to take Jessica Biel to "7th Heaven" and not deliver.

In I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, JTT plays a spoiled college student who doesn't want to return to his hometown for the holidays because he doesn't like his new stepmom. Instead he trades in his plane tickets for a week in Cabo San Lucas with his girlfriend, played by a 16 year old Jessica Biel. (Who could really blame him for that…) However, his dad (Lumbergh himself, Gary Cole) really wants the family to be together and promises to give his son a 1957 Porsche convertible if he makes it home by 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. That's right; this is not a heartwarming tale of a boy desperately trying to make it home in time to spend Christmas with his loved ones. It's about an asshole rich kid who has to decide between a vacation in Mexico or getting a luxury car. It might as well be titled THE WHITE PEOPLE PROBLEMS HOLIDAY SPECIAL.

"Why God? Why did you have to make Mark a goth kid the last season of Home Improvement?"

Of course JTT chooses the Porsche and decides to make his way home… that is until he gets left for dead in the California desert. This is seriously one of the weirdest plots for a family Christmas movie: a jock bully from his college decides to kidnap our hero, take all his money and identification, glue a Santa costume and beard to his body, and abandon him in the middle of the Mojave. This is not a funny prank to teach someone a Scrooge-like lesson; it's attempted murder. Buzzards are literally stalking JTT's lifeless body when we see him next.

The deleted orgy scene from BAD SANTA was a spectacle to behold.

What follows is an oddball road trip movie as JTT gets in a variety of misadventures and learns eye-rolling Christmas lessons every step of the way. That includes:

  • Hitchhiking with a group of old ladies going to a Tom Jones concert, one of whom accidentally gives JTT a gummer
  • Getting run over by a stoner criminal
  • Being forced to volunteer at a hospital and meeting a sick Hispanic boy who gets him to patch things up with his stepmom
  • Visiting a restaurant where you can choose the cow you want to slaughter/eat in order to help a cheating cop win back his wife through song

Little Known Fact: Mrs. Claus was a pioneer in the field of sled head.

  • Faking a live organ donation so he can confront his girlfriend, who he saw making out with another guy on live TV
  • Beating a Kenyan to win a Santa marathon, but deciding to give his winnings to charity
  • Sneaking on to a plane inside a dog carrier with a farting canine
  • Stowing away on a train, riding on top of a moving car, and stealing a one-horse open sleigh


Man, everybody wants presents now.

Since this is Disney movie, JTT does set things straight with Jessica Biel and then makes it home with two minutes to spare…but decides he doesn't want the Porsche after all and instead stands outside watching his family eat Christmas Eve dinner like a creeper. The film then ends with the world's saddest Christmas parade, marching through an empty neighborhood with no audience, as an Nsync holiday song plays.

Merry Christmas, ladies.

I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is definitely bad, I just can't tell if its oddball choices make it better or worse. Proceed with nostalgia-tinted caution.

"You may be a fake boyfriend, but you're a genuine butthole!" and other one liners.

Farting dogs, Jessica Biel singing Aqua, an old lady going down on JTT and more!

It's Disney.

If only in my dreams… Buy this movie here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • 90s music (Blink 182, Nsync, Aqua, etc.) is played or referenced
  • JTT's dorky friend says the combination to his locker
  • Santa hitchhikes
  • Someone sings
  • JTT gives up a chance to actually get home
  • Carolers disperse hastily

Double shot if:

  • A kid doesn't wash his hands in the bathroom

But, wait! There's more! Keep the Awfully Good Holiday Spirit gravy train going with this week's Awfully Good Movies as they tackle another Christmas gem, the 1994 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles special, We Wish You A Turtle Christmas. Oh, yeah. It's bad. You'll love it! Enjoy!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.



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