I'll Be Home for Christmas Movie Poster Image

I'll Be Home for Christmas

Jon Taylor Thomas' yule tale charming for tweens.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1998
  • Running Time: 86 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character helps athletes cheat on an important exam and lies to get out of sticky situations (although he redeems himself later).

Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the main character helps athletes cheat on an important exam and lies to get out of sticky situations (though he redeems himself later).

What's the story?

Wisecracking college freshman Jake (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) has refused to go home since his dad remarried after his mother's death. But he changes his tune when his father says he'll give Jake his treasured Porsche if he gets home by Christmas Eve. Allie (Jessica Biel), Jake's girlfriend, is delighted because they get to travel home together. Plans change when Jake gets into trouble helping some football players cheat on an exam. Pretty soon, he ends up dumped in the desert dressed in a Santa Claus suit while Allie hitches a ride home with Eddie, Jake's sworn enemy. Jake is determined to get to New York. Still dressed as Santa, he makes his way across the country, fast-talking his way out of every sticky situation. As he travels, he begins to realize the importance of friends and family. By the time he gets home, he doesn't even care about the Porsche.

Is it any good?


It's hard to find a Christmas movie for younger teens that isn't too corny or childish; I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS may fit the bill, since it combines sentiment with age-appropriate humor. Adults may find this holiday story dull, but teens will probably enjoy Jonathan Taylor Thomas and his con man persona. Thomas is a surprisingly skilled actor, and makes his character's transformation from self-absorption to sensitivity believable and appealing. As Allie, Jessica Biel is refreshingly real, too. Allie isn't afraid to speak her mind; she tells Jake what she thinks of his bad behavior.

Although the story has no real surprises, it's kept afloat by Jake's rakish ingenuity. He's at his best when he's forced to dispense "hot" appliances to tiny tots, or when he helps a shy cop win back his estranged wife. Each episode along the way teaches Jake a lesson about being honest and helping others, and by the end of his journey, he drops the con man pose and lets his real self come through.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of Christmas movies. Compare and contrast it with other titles, such as It's a Wonderful Life, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas or A Charlie Brown Christmas. Do you see any common themes? Why do you think there are so many Christmas films and so few dealing with other major religious holidays, such as Ramadan or Passover?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 13, 1998
DVD/Streaming release date:September 2, 2003
Cast:Adam LaVorgna, Jessica Biel, Jonathan Taylor Thomas
Director:Arlene Sanford
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Topics:Adventures, Holidays
Run time:86 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:Parental Guidance Suggested

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written bylinds1457 November 25, 2015

Not sure why this site says it's okay for 9 and up.

I'm a little disappointed with the rating system for this movie. I rely on common sense media for our family movie nights . I ended up needing to fast forward so many times that I finally just turned it off . We are not an uptight family but I do however believe in keeping children innocent for as long as we can , which can be quite difficult nowadays . For this reason I use common sense media to check certain categories before turning on a movie . I'm greatly disappointed with there not being anything in the sexual category previously for this movie . While it is not highly sexually explicit , I still feel there are things that other parents, like myself ,might want to know . First , a girl in the movie tells a boy not to feel her up . Second, a police officer had previously cheated on his wife by kissing another woman , the wife repeatedly mentions that he kissed her using tongue and he blames this on the alcohol . I finally shut the movie off after a teenage girl and boy were given the honeymoon suite to stay in for the night . I'm not sure if anything happened after that but I wasn't taking any chances . Now if you're okay with these things , to each their own . However , I'm sure there are other parents out there that might share these concerns with me and for them I am writing this review . While these things may be over some children's heads , they may spark conversations for others .
What other families should know
Too much sex
Parent Written byheartlikealion December 16, 2013


I recorded this movie not knowing what age group it was for and watched it with my husband with the hopes of sharing it with our son. But it was for older kids (he's in kindergarten. I had to select an age on the review so I just picked an older age). Anyway, my husband and I thought it was terrible. The main character cheats, hands out stolen goods?, lies and is very selfish for the majority of the film. Very few consequences for his actions. Reckless driving by one teen made us very uncomfortable and the teens don't even buckle up before zooming out of a gas station parking lot. And apparently if you cheat on your significant other under the mistletoe you don't need to apologize. I think more negative things are shown than positive.
Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 December 15, 2009

Unsuitable for young children.

This is a great movie, but it contains some suggestive situations including an un-married 18 year old male and female in bed (no s--), very infrequent s--ual humor, and some mild language. This movie is not suitable for young children, but it is a great movie for older kids.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Great messages