I’ll Be Home For Christmas reminds us of the real reason for the season

(Welcome to The daily flow(an ongoing series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching, why it’s worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The movie: “I’m home for Christmas”

Where you can stream it: Disney+

The track: 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 apparently will returning for a second season). The comedian isn’t the only “Home Improvement” cast member to branch out into holiday movies, however. During the hit 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, boarding student Jake (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) has become estranged from his family back in New York. Therefore, he exchanged the plane ticket home for the holiday for two tickets to Cabo San Lucas as a gift for his girlfriend Allie (Jessica Biel). But when she declines to spend Christmas with her family instead, Jake’s father sweetens the deal to get his son home: If Jake can get from Los Angeles, CA to Larchmont, NY by 18.00 on Christmas Eve for dinner, then he gets his father’s vintage 1957 Porch 356.

But just as he’s about to join Allie on their way back to their hometown, Jake’s rival Eddie (Adam LaVorgna) gets his revenge by gluing him with a pixie suit, hat and beard 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 must find a way to make the cross-country trip to claim his prize.

Why it is important to see

Celebrated as a teenage heartthrob at the time, this project marked the third live-action film JTT starred in for Walt Disney Pictures, the others being “Man of the House” and “Tom and Huck.” Although none of these films achieved the success of his first theatrical role for House of Mouse (where he voiced the young version of the main character in a small film called “The Lion King”), all three are fun family fare, which is just that kind of thing my family usually watches during holiday gatherings.

But what makes “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” perfect for this scenario (besides the fact that it’s actually about Christmas) is the message it shares. Throughout the trip, JTT’s Jake meets people who show gratitude for the relationships in their lives. In many cases, they come to this revelation thanks to Jake, like the thief Nolan who decides to face the consequences of his actions after he saw how bright he made Christmas for patients at a children’s hospital, or the policeman Max who is inspired to win back his wife with a grand gesture involving jolly old St. Nick. Jake even secures a safe passage back to New York in time when he wins the $1,000 prize in a Midwestern Santa race, but he gives up when he realizes that the winner usually donates the pot to poor members of the community who don’t have a fancy Christmas Eve dinner waiting for them.

Over the course of the film, Jake slowly realizes that material things are nice, but the truly valuable things in this world are the people you cross paths with throughout your life and the connections you make with them.

Where the light of love shines

At the beginning of “I’ll Be Home For Christmas,” Jake sees himself as a Ferris Bueller-type lovable blob who constantly plans his way out of situations. In reality, he’s a selfish jerk who doesn’t trust his girlfriend. Seriously, he should have known nothing was going on between her and Eddie. But within 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 lucky enough to have what Jake has in life and it can be quite lonely for some people at this time of year. Even the Bing Crosby song this movie is named after ends on a melancholy note when 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, funny reminder of why, then “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” is the movie for you.

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