Disney Wiki
Disney Wiki

This article is about the movie itself. For the Christmas carol of the same name, see "I'll Be Home for Christmas (song)".

I'll Be Home for Christmas is a 1998 live-action comedy film, starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas.


Jake Wilkinson is an 18-year-old college student attending Palisades Academy in California. For the past few years, he has not been home to New York for Christmas even though he always promised to make it. A few days before Christmas Eve, his father offers to give him his vintage 1957 Porsche if he is home by 6pm on Christmas Eve for Christmas dinner. Initially, Jake had traded in his plane ticket to New York for two tickets to Cabo San Lucas to take his girlfriend, Allie Henderson, who is also from New York. She considers the act selfish as Jake knows Allie always returns home for Christmas. Jake reconsiders and trades the tickets back in for New York, and she forgives him.

As Jake is leaving, he is taken captive by a group of bullies and abandoned in the desert dressed as Santa Claus. They did this as punishment for not getting an exam cheat sheet from Jake, unaware that it was their leader, Eddie Taffet, who withheld the cheat sheet so he might get Jake out of the way and claim Allie for himself. While Jake is stuck in the California desert, Eddie ends up giving Allie a ride to New York after she thinks Jake has bailed on her once again. Jake has only three days to make it to New York if he wants the car and Allie.

He stumbles upon a few obstacles and opportunities, such as a thief named Nolan, who is driving stolen kitchen goods to his dealer near New York. Jake hitches a ride with him, not knowing that he is a thief. A police officer named Max pulls them over for speeding and becomes suspicious of them, so Jake lies and says that Nolan is his elf and they are donating the goods to the children's hospital. Max offers for them to join him, as he is heading in the same direction. At the hospital, an Mexican child reminds Jake, Nolan, and Max about the importance of family. Nolan decides to return west and win back his girlfriend, therefore abandoning Jake. Max, recently estranged from his wife, Marjorie, asks Jake to accompany him to Nebraska and help him win her back. Afterward, they buy him a bus ticket to New York in return for helping them understand their differences.

Meanwhile, Allie and Eddie continue to head for New York. Instead of staying at a cheap roadside motel, Allie convinces Eddie to stay the night at novelty hotel in a Bavarian village. It is celebrating Christmas, and a television news reporter is reporting live from it. Allie and Eddie are unknowingly standing beneath a bunch of mistletoe while the news anchor is reporting live. She asks them to kiss for the camera and as they do, Jake happens to be watching the news report and the kiss between Allie and Eddie while waiting at the bus station in Nebraska.

The bus driver determined to stick to the schedule as it is a non-stop bus to New York. Jake wants to stop at the Bavarian village and develops a scheme. He obtains a cooler, a slab of meat from another passenger's sandwich, writes a girl's name and hospital address on the cooler, and then convinces the whole bus that the cooler contains a liver that needs to be delivered to a little girl at the hospital in the Bavarian Village. The passengers convince the driver to speed up and detour to the Bavarian village. Jake finds it, and locates Allie and Eddie's room. After Allie lets him in, Eddie walks out of the shower in a towel and Jake assumes he had slept with Allie (he didn't, she made him sleep on top of the quilt in several layers of clothes). Jake and Allie eventually make up, until he blurts out that Eddie prevented him from getting the Porsche. Upset that he had come to get it and not herself (which he actually did), Allie storms onto the bus and takes Jake's seat. The driver asks is she's the girl who the organ transplant was for to which she agrees. Upset with Jake's tangle of lies, she tells him off and boards the bus.

Jake and Eddie drive off. Jake tells Eddie that he will go home, win back Allie, and get the car. Eddie, unwilling to be a nice guy (it would be bad for his reputation) and jealous that Jake would not only get Allie but also the Porsche, ends up throwing Jake out of his car somewhere in Wisconsin. Jake decides to enter a Santa Claus race for a chance to win a $1,000 prize to buy a plane ticket to New York. Eddie is arrested after being rude to cops dressed as Christmas trees while policing the race. While registering for it, Jake meets a nice man named Jeff Wilson, who he barely beats in it. He wins the prize, but on his way to the airport the taxi driver informs Jake that Jeff is actually the mayor of the town. Mayor Wilson usually wins the race every year and uses the prize money to buy turkeys for the needy. Jake feels bad, and asks the taxi driver to turn back. Jake leaves the money in Mayor Wilson's mailbox, but is caught in the middle of this good deed by him. He offers to set an extra place for Jake, but he declines, saying he has somewhere to be that evening, and calls home. He talks to his sister, who arranges for a plane ticket for him from Madison, Wisconsin. The airline refuses to allow him to board the plane because he had no photograph identification. He decides to stow away in a dog kennel on a cargo plane. From the airport, he stows away on a train, tries to hitch a ride in a car (and ends up riding on the roof), and then steals a one-horse open sleigh. When he reaches his street, he apologizes to Allie, and they make up. They ride the sleigh to his family home, and arrive at 5:59pm. He intentionally waits until after 6pm to go inside, so that he won't arrive in time to get the Porsche. When his father offers it to him, explaining that he's only a few seconds late, he still refuses, insisting that their time spent fixing it up as father and son isn't done yet.


  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas as Jake Wilkinson
  • Jessica Biel as Allie Henderson
  • Adam LaVorgna as Eddie Taffet
  • Gary Cole as James Wilkinson
  • Eve Gordon as Carolyn Wilkinson
  • Lauren Maltby as Tracey Wilkinson
  • Andrew Lauer as Nolan
  • Sean O'Bryan as Max
  • Lesley Boone as Marjorie
  • Ian Robinson as Jeff Wilson
  • Amzie Strickland as Tom Tom Girl Mary
  • Kathleen Freeman as Tom Tom Girl Gloria
  • Jack Kenny as Gabby
  • Blair Slater as Ian
  • P. J. Prinsloo as The Brandt-Man
  • James Sherry as The Ken-Man
  • Peter Kelamis as Conway The Bus Driver
  • Ernie Jackson as Kenyan Santa
  • Nicole Oliver as Ticket Agent
  • J.B. Bivens as Port-A-Potty Santa
  • Eric Pospisll as Little Boy at Bus Station
  • Kevin Hansen as The Murph-Man
  • Cathy Weseluck as Wendy Richards
  • Brendan Beiser as Bellhop
  • Graeme Kingston as Pizza Eating Santa
  • Kurt Max Runte as Taxi Driver
  • Betty Linde as Older Lady On The Bus
  • Awaovieyi Agie as Service Man
  • Dolores Drake as Fraulein Maid
  • Christine Willes as Race Official
  • Tasha Simms as Parade Manager
  • Nick Misura as Groundskeeper
  • Mark Acheson as Sandwich Passenger
  • Dmitry Chepovetsky as Angel
  • Alexandria Mitchell as Little Girl in Hospital
  • Eileen Pedde as Turf 'n Turf Customer #3
  • Michael P. Northey as Freight Handler
  • Bart Anderson as Turf 'n Turf Customer #1
  • Manami Hara as Edelbruck Clerk
  • David Neale as Running Santa
  • Boyd Banks as Ethan
  • Melissa Barker Sauer as Teenage Mom on Bus
  • Mike Battie as Santa on Stilts
  • Tom Heaton as Turf 'n Turf Customer #2