While still reeling from a breakup, Sloane (Emma Roberts) is growing tired of the constant pressure from her family to find a man. Jackson (Luke Bracey) is fed up with casual dating that leads to complications and emotionally needy women. The two meet by chance at the mall where Sloane explains that her aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth) escapes familial pressure by bringing a ‘holidate’ – a platonic date designed specifically for random holiday functions. Jackson thinks this is a brilliant idea and suggests he and Sloane become each other’s “holidate”. Sloane reluctantly agrees and thus starts an entire year of platonic dates between Jackson and Sloane, although that doesn’t necessarily keep Sloane’s mother (played by Frances Fisher) by meddling and disapproving of the arrangement.
I thought Holidate had a cute premise because I’ve always enjoyed the ‘fake dating’ trope. You always know they’re going to develop genuine feelings for one another, but like I’ve said before in this blog, it’s the journey that I enjoy the most. Unfortunately, Holidate was a major disappointment. Roberts and Bracey didn’t have enough chemistry to carry the weak plot and cheesy dialogue. The newest addition to the Netflix rom-com collection is rated TV-MA but every single “adult” moment felt like the writers were trying to prove how “edgy” they were being in a rather PG-rated genre. There are allusions to oral sex, liberal use of the word “tits” and a sequence where one of our main characters ends up shitting themselves. I’m all for raunchy humor if it’s executed well, but in Holidate it just fell flat and became quite cringey. The movie hits on nearly every rom-com trope, which I think was purposeful, but it still completely fails in its execution.
The bright spot in Holidate is Kristin Chenoweth, who seems to be having a blast playing an older woman who is unafraid and unashamed to be exactly who she wants to be. There is a subplot revolving around Sloane’s older sister, played by Jessica Capshaw, who is married to a great guy but still feels a bit unfulfilled. It feels like this story is supposed to lead somewhere, but it doesn’t. Sloane’s younger brother gets married during the course of the movie but it’s increasingly obvious that the bride isn’t so sure about who she’s actually marrying. Again, that subplot fizzles out into nothing. I suppose we’re supposed to feel closure during the credits with a bunch of couple-based photographs revealing what’s happened to everyone in the movie.
I suppose it’s easy to tell that I didn’t enjoy this movie. I really wanted to, but there wasn’t enough romance or comedy for me to add it to my yearly Christmas movie-watch list. If you were wondering whether or not to give Holidate a watch this year, I’m going to suggest that you Holi-don’t (ha!).