I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS
Thomas is Jake Wilkinson, an L.A. college student from Larchmont, New
York, who has found gainful employment at school: He sells the answers to
test questions to members of the football team. When he tries to get his
girlfriend Allie (Jessica Biel) to forget her family plans and spend a romantic
vacation with him, she turns him down. But then, in a spectacular display
of parenting, Jake's dad (Gary Cole) makes the Porsche deal, bribing Jake
to visit the family. So Jake tells Allie he's changed his mind and wants
to ride home with her (they're from the same neighborhood). She melts, and
all is well.
But Jake's deal with the football guys falls through thanks to Eddie
(Adam Lavorgna), an obnoxious student who wants to make Allie his own. Jake
gets beaten up, dressed in a Santa suit (with the hat and beard glued on),
and left in the desert. He doesn't make his date for the road trip with
Allie, but Eddie offers to take her instead. Miffed, Allie takes Eddie up
on the deal, even though his arrogance and conceit make her skin crawl.
From there on, the film consists of the dual stories of 1) Jake's trip,
hitchhiking and sweet-talking his way across the country, and 2) Allie and
Eddie's trip, the former enduring constant romantic pursuit by the latter.
Naturally, they cross each other's paths several times and everyone finally
learns the truth about the whole dumb story. Actually, there are some cute
moments, and some funny characters, but one cannot help but notice that
there is not a respectable "role model" in the film. I don't mean
to preach, but I'm not at all sure of what message is being sent here. Jake
is supposed to be the protagonist, but he is invariably selfish, inconsiderate,
and deceitful to everyone he meets, including those he's supposed to care
about. Is this a kids' film?
Yeah, okay, at the last minute Jake finds some kind of inner light and
says he didn't really just come home for the car, but it's undeveloped;
we don't see him coming to that place until he's there. For all we know,
he may just be lying again to score points with Allie. And she sure does
go for it.
I guess I shouldn't expect much: This is the debut offering from writing
team Harris Goldberg and Tom Nursall, and director Sanford's only other
film to date has been A Very Brady Sequel. In an apparent attempt
to be hip, the Mouse Club has abandoned all pretense at so-called "family
values." Hurrah let's teach our kids that if you look good and
are skilled at making up convincing lies, everyone will love you.
Look, I don't expect all Disney characters to be patterned after Jesus Christ. But shouldn't they at least have some redeeming qualities? **½
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