Last Wednesday, the romantic comedy holiday film “Holidate” was released on the digital streaming platform Netflix for audiences to enjoy this coming holiday season. The movie stars “Scream Queens” Emma Roberts and Australian eye candy Luke Bracey as romantic co-leads portraying lovelorn singles. “Holidate” is likely to entertain viewers weary of romantic antics inspired by the holiday season as well as those who enjoy cheap laughs, but the film itself is a shining example of forgettable holiday rom-com schlock.
Emma Roberts portrays Sloane, an embittered single woman only mildly south of 30 living in a world where such over-25s are nothing but beldam spinsters. Though Sloane’s social environment is necessary to catalyze the plot, the exaggerated drama of her adult singlehood can make the film’s supposed 2020 Chicago setting seem a bit anachronistic. To avoid the meddling of her family and friends, Sloane enlists the Luke Bracey-portrayed Jackson to serve as her eponymous “holidate”: a platonic, non-carnal date for holiday celebrations. As the film progresses, the pair predictably experiences romantic tension. In a moment of levity from the otherwise mind numbingly dull film, Sloane tips against the fourth wall, saying, “…Every romantic comedy in history [always has] some fake reason the stars can’t be together when you know they’re going to be together from the poster.”
However, the romantic tension in “Holidate” does not deserve to be consummated and only does so because the genre begs it to. The Australian professional golfer Jackson remains in Chicago for a year with no viable explanation and is inexplicably always window shopping at the mall so the plot can have him coincidentally run into Sloane. Though Sloane begins expressing romantic attraction to Jackson before he does and is anguished by his initial rejection, the third act’s conflict is unprecedented in that she suddenly castigates his efforts to court her. Their “romance” and its ensuing strife is inorganic and contrived. Perhaps the film would have been better off maintaining friendship of the leads so as to properly satirize the societal expectations that gave way for the concept of a “holidate” in the first place, rather than caving in to boring cliché.
Their “romance” and its ensuing strife is inorganic and contrived.
The comedy of “Holidate” is an unpretentious hit-or-miss. Its biggest laughs come from its candid discussion of gender relations and holiday expectations. When Jackson receives clothing as a present that is incorrectly sized, he refers to it as “a present and a project.” After Sloane complains about the physical upkeep she is expected to maintain in relationships, a married character responds, “Best thing about marriage: no more waxing.” Still, a lot of the jokes fail to land due to their obvious forced nature. For instance, Sloane’s use of the word “cockamamie” is repurposed in the final act for comedy, but the scene in which it was originally used is so forgettable that it appears as if the writers were reaching for any humorous content. Additionally, there is a crude laxative gag with no foreshadowing or build up as to how laxatives were even mistakenly consumed.
This film best functions as background noise for when you are doing your laundry and do not have time to course Netflix’s catalog for better holiday movies.