Director: John Whitesell
Writer: Tiffany Paulsen
Stars: Emma Roberts, Kristin Chenoweth, Luke Bracey
The time for holiday films is upon us, and Netflix is following suit of any big chain store and putting out their displays and content early with ‘Holidate’. Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) hate the holidays. They constantly find themselves single, sitting at the kid’s table, or stuck with awkward dates. But when these two strangers meet one particularly bad Christmas, they make a pact to be each other’s ‘Holidate’ for every festive occasion throughout the next year. With a mutual disdain for the holidays, and assuring themselves that they have no romantic interest in the other, they make the perfect team. However, as a year of absurd celebrations come to an end, Sloane and Jackson find that sharing everything they hate may just prove to be something they unexpectedly love. While this romantic comedy may get you through the holidays as a quick and semi-entertaining film, it might not have the strength to invite over for the holidays with other classic staples of the genre.
The film begins with two scenes contrasting with each other as our leads are thrust into the holiday environment they hate. Sloane is being flanked on both sides by family members insisting that coming home alone for the holidays is bad and that she needs to find a man to bring. Her mother (played by Frances Fisher) is leading the charge, even going as far as to try setting her up on blind dates, as well as her Aunt Susan (played by Kristin Chenoweth) who coins the term ‘Holiday’ by introducing her boyfriend of the week, and not the only one that will appear in the film. Jackson is also with a family, but not his own. He is brought in by a very presumptive girlfriend of only a month or so, introducing him to her family, who have presents and a Christmas sweater ready for him. He feels the claustrophobia and pressure to meet expectations of being in a strong committed relationship and winds up running out the door.
I think the acting done by Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey is good, however, there seemed to be something lacking in their chemistry that didn’t seem to ignite through the film’s story. Most of the fun comes from them exploring the different ‘Holidates’ together and struggling to explain their relationship to their respective families and friends. this is a story formula that rom-com fans are well used to at this point, but the twist in this film comes from it is not just a Christmas film, but an all-encompassing holiday film. The supporting cast all are working with what they are given as best they can, the biggest crime though is underusing Kristin Chenoweth. If you have Kristin Chenoweth and you don’t have her sing even one-holiday song, then what are you even doing trying to make a holiday movie, to begin with?!
At some times the movie is meant to be heartwarming and almost family-friendly but jumps immediately to crassness at many points in the film that makes the tone of the film feel jarring. Once more, the writing in ‘Holidate’ was the biggest problem for me. It often comes across as cold, and out of touch with what the film is trying to be. If they had written a better script in regards to the character’s dialogue and conversations it could’ve elevated the film too much more than what it turned out being.
Overall, ‘Holidate’ is the chocolate in a box of assorted chocolates that tastes like toothpaste. Sure, on the outside it looks like any of the caramels, or truffles, but once you get a look inside it becomes clear that it’s one you can gloss over for the better films to watch on the holidays.
‘Holidate’ gets a 4.5/10