Jonathan Taylor Thomas – J.T.T., if you were born between about 1980 and 1990 – perfectly illustrates the life cycle of a tween hearthrob. He was Randy Taylor on Home Improvement, Young Simba in The Lion King, and a Certified Hottie in the pages of Tiger Beat. When I was in fourth grade (the 1995-1996 school year), all of the girls in my class were obsessed with him. A few short years later – 1998, when I’ll Be Home for Christmas was released – we had all but forgotten about JTT. A lot had happened since 1996 (Hanson. Leonardo DiCaprio. Puberty). That’s how I, a one-time J.T.T. fangirl, got to 2015 without seeing his foray into Christmas entertainment. Here goes:
- This is the most high-school looking college I’ve ever seen. J.T.T. is in a hallway covered in lockers; his dweeby friend is STUFFED INTO ONE.
- 1998 thing: J.T.T. uses the phrase “on the net.”
- 1998 thing: a flock of girls are wearing Biore pore strips and J.T.T. asks if they work (1998 thing: they don’t).
- 1998 thing: J.T.T. (Jake), wearing one of those button up bowling shirt things, flirts with a Mary Camden-era Jessica Biel (Ally), who has a Smashmouth poster.
- Ribbed shirts sure were all the rage, weren’t they?
- I think Mary Camden is wearing a skort.
- So Jake wants Ally to spend Christmas with him instead of her family. Is this a thing 18-year-olds do? My 18-year-old cousin went to Florida with her girlfriend’s family last Christmas and we all thought it was a little extra for someone who didn’t exist until 1996.
- J.T.T. and his bros are in a cafeteria. This is the weirdest, most high-schoolish college.
- J.T.T’s little sister is roughly the age we were when this came out, and she is the late-90s awkward stage personified.
- “Is the convenience of technology worth the loss of our privacy?” – a very prescient J.T.T.
- J.T.T.’s father offers to GIVE HIM A PORSCHE if he comes home for dinner at 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve. If I am home for dinner at 6:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, I get dinner.
- So how’d I end up watching this? I’m watching a nephew and niece while their brother is in the hospital (note: this will be relevant later). Anyway, the 8-year-old boy requested a Christmas movie that neither of us had seen. He pronounced J.T.T.’s dad’s offer “a little extreme.”
- 1998 thing: A group of boys cheat on a final with the aid of beepers and antique dial-up internet.
- Mary Camden is wearing her second chunky-knit awkwardly short ribbed sweater.
- The bros drop J.T.T. in the desert wearing a Santa Suit and I have questions. They leave a note: “Let’s see you sweet talk your way out of this one.” So. They knocked him unconscious, changed his clothes, and drove him to a secluded location to die? God, this is dark.
- Mary Camden: “if you make me listen to any sexist, racist, or homophobic jokes I’m gonna have to slug you.” Add that one to my to-cross stitch pile. (She’s driving cross-country with J.T.T.’s enemy bro.)
- 1998 thing: Eddie, the enemy bro, is in a sensitive mood, wants to listen to “Jewel, Sarah, Fiona.”
- Tracey, Jake’s sister, is wearing giant terrible overalls.
- J.T.T. and a car full of blue-haired Tom Jones fanatics listen to What’s New Pussycat.
- It starts snowing on J.T.T. in the desert, I scoff, 8-year-old reminds me that deserts have dry climates but can be extremely cold at night. Which is true.
- Jessica Biel slug’s Douchebag Eddie “as per our agreement.” I miss this teen movie archetype.
- A van driver swerves about the road while he’s trying to retrieved a dropped sandwich and Charley and I both laugh out loud. FUN FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY. GIGGLES FOR ALL AGES. No but really, this movie is not bad on the separate rating scale I use for Christmas movies.
- Douchebag Eddie calls himself a “millennial type of guy” who likes yoga and macrobiotic food. I could have sworn we were still going by Gen Y in 1998.
- J.T.T. and the sandwich guy lie to a cop and say they’re giving presents to children in the hospital. They hand out kitchen appliances.
- THEN a little boy says that all he wants is to go home and be with his family. My nephew looks a bit glum thinking about his brother, and I learn a lesson about trying to entertain a worried child with Jonathan Taylor Thomas movies. See, that’s why the Babysitters Club used to bring Kid Kits with them. ANYWAY. The hospital boy is never seen again, so there was no point in the movie turning serious for like 20 seconds.
- Sandwich Guy sings to his estranged wife Marjorie at her workplace. Her workplace is a restaurant where you, I guess, choose which cow you want to eat.
- Douchebag Eddie wonders why more breakfast places don’t serve food right in the skillet. Same. But also, tort liability probs.
- I’ve somehow stopped noticing that JTT has been wearing a Santa suit this whole time.
- Douchebag Eddie and Mary Camden stay at a honeymoon suite decorated by my grandma during one of her mid-90s craft sprees.
- JTT steals a man’s gross meat sandwich, which sounds like a euphemism but isn’t, and says it’s a liver transplant so that his bus goes where he needs it to.
- This is an OK Christmas movie, but you know what would be the BEST Christmas movie that I’d watch every year? If they cut together all of the Christmas or wintery or snowy parts from all the Harry Potters. I’d pay probably not evening admission for that, but definitely matinee.
- Allie and Jake meet up and have a boring fight. You could skip it.
- J.T.T. enters a Santa 5K to get money to fly home. He wins after a cluster of Santas gets taken out by a friendly dog. The whole thing would make a fantastic Where’s Waldo page.
- Jake donates his winnings to homeless people.
- Tracey has a plane ticket’s worth of money in her “ballerina bag.” The best thing I had in my Irish Dance bag was maybe like a newish Werther’s Original.
- Jake stows away in a dog crate because he doesn’t have an I.D.
- Charley: “How did Allie and Jake get there at the same time, if he flew and she took the bus?”
Me: Wait. How DID they?
Honestly the geography of this trip is very confusing to me.
- Jake steals a sleigh to get home in time. My nephew notes that Jake “steals a lot” and he isn’t wrong.
- Jake makes it home at 5:59, but refuses to go into the house until after 6 because he is silly.
- The Porsche is parked in the snowy front yard by a set designer who doesn’t know how snow works.
- Jake, a silly goose, refuses the car but accepts his father’s love. AWWW.
- Jake and his stepmom exchange sweater sizes. She is an 8.
- 1998 thing: a size 8 woman in a movie.
- Bottom line: this Lifetime-quality Christmas movie that was perfectly serviceable. On my separate rating scale for Christmas movies, it was “cute.” In Christmas movies, cute isn’t a bad thing.
8 thoughts on “Pop Culture Blind Spots: I’ll Be Home For Christmas”
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Also, I don’t know if either of you noticed, but his little sister is played by Lauren Maltby aka Margie the ultimate biotch from Zenon. This was one year before she first played Margie in Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.
Thanks, that’s awesome! And I did not know that was Maggie from Zenon and now I want to rewatch the whole thing with that knowledge! (Also: ZENON. SO GOOD).
Isn’t it? I swear we had the best tv growing up!
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I always love watching this movie every Christmas!!
I’m adding it to my regular list now! I guess I still kind of love JTT.
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Haha there’s just something about him!
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