A predictable, safe 'Christmas'

November 13, 1998|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

If you've ever wondered what would have happened had "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" fallen on Christmas, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" provides the answer.

A Disney live-action film that won't make you swear off movies forever -- anyone who actually sat through last year's "Rocket Man," "Flubber" or "Mr. Magoo" deserves combat pay -- "Christmas" offers Jonathan Taylor Thomas (whose appeal escapes me) as Jake, a self-absorbed high-school con artist determined to spend the holidays anywhere but home.

His tune changes, however, when dad promises to give him a Porsche, if Jake makes it home for Christmas dinner.

That's easier promised than done, especially after vengeful classmates kidnap Jake, glue him into a Santa suit and drag him out to the middle of the desert. Even worse, one of the bad guys convinces Jake's girlfriend, Allie (a game Jessica Biel), to accompany him on his drive cross-country.

Will Jake make it home in time? Will he reconnect with Allie? Will his ordeal leave him a better person?

You really need me to answer that? "Christmas" has some cute segments (some too cute), including a 5K race run by guys in Santa suits and a trained vulture who steals whatever parts of the movie he's in, plus a soundtrack filled with new versions of such old chestnuts as "Cool Yule" and "Run Rudolph Run."

And while the film is way too formulaic, it's also safe for children and not so dumb that parents will leave the theater feeling like they've had a lobotomy.

'I'll Be Home For Christmas'

Starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Jessica Biel

Directed by Arlene Sanford

Released by Walt Disney

Rated PG (mild language and some rude humor)

Running time: 90 minutes

Sun score: **

Pub Date: 11/13/98

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