Holidate (2020) – Netflix Movie Review

Fluffy Rom-Com When Your Brain Needs A Break

A bit of fluffy fun. Holidate is easy if you’ve had a long day and your brain needs a break. Pair it with a light red, a tin of Celebrations and fairly low expectations and you’ll get on fine.

Not that far from any other rom-com, there’s a predictable pattern here that sees key characters Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) lightly mock from the start. Directed by John Whitesell, from a screenplay by Tiffany Paulsen, the set-up is that both Sloane and Jackson suffer from less than ideal relationships, feeling a little burned.

They meet in a mall and complain about their holiday mishaps, quickly getting to the crux. This is the most interesting piece – the title itself. A Holidate is a partner with whom you attend holiday functions as an alternative to being alone. It prevents your family from openly bestowing love advice or pairing you with randoms. Or worse – opting to date just to avoid +1 syndrome, which allegedly leads to unwarranted expectations and tricky situations.

I think they may have spoiled the objective early on by introducing Jackson as a Holidate, as Sloane’s family do continue to parade suiters with ‘potential’. But that’s part of the joke –incorrigible well-meaning families who drive you to drink. And setting one’s expectations at zero.

It’s not as endearing as Bridget Jones’ Diary or as unconventional as There’s Something About Mary, as cheeky as How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or as funny as The Proposal. Instead, Holidate somehow flirts the line between them all, making it unlikely you’ll watch Holidate more than once (unless you fall asleep the first time!)

The comedy itself is a bit cringe-worthy and not terribly clever – leaning into wardrobe malfunctions and toilet humour. That sort of thing worked in movies like American Pie because the characters were in high school but here it just cheapens the story; what starts as witty repartee, descends.

There were some sweet and OTT moments from Kristin Chenowith as Aunt Susan though, as well as by Manish Dayal as Faarooq. Chenowith does her part but is stuck playing her usual role, the same character since Glee. Even she seems a little bored with it now. As an actress, she’s got great timing – somebody give her a challenge already.

Like many American productions these days, there was representation from a selection of different backgrounds. It’s great to see a mix of actors reflecting society and bringing different lenses – but a shame it felt so calculated and stereotyped here.

However predictable the pattern, Holidate is an easy rom-com that’s okay fun to watch but once is enough. It’s cute, but nothing you’re going to think about tomorrow beyond maybe the title itself as Christmas rolls around. Set it aside for when your brain truly needs a rest.


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