In the picture

November 15, 2020

The new Netflix rom-com Holidate struggles because of a weak script.

Holidate *1/2

Starring: Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Jessica Capshaw, Andrew Bachelor, Manish Dayal, Kristin Chenoweth, and Frances Fisher

Directed by: John Whitesell

Tagline: Who’s your perfect plus-one?

A potentially fun premise meets a terrible script in the new Netflix movie Holidate, a romantic comedy that fails in both the romance and comedy departments.

The film’s protagonists – Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) – both hate the holidays. Sloane is still heartbroken over a breakup and is tired of her family’s incessant inquiries about her singlehood. Jackson, meanwhile, is fleeing a fledgling relationship with an overly clingy partner. A chance meeting between the two strangers, both of whom are still drowning in their respective holiday woes, inspires the pair to become each other’s holidates: platonic, commitment-free plus-ones for all upcoming celebrations.

As the two hang out on New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and so on (while slowly falling for each other, obviously), you’d think merry hijinks would ensue. What unfolds instead is a crude, unfunny, hackneyed mess. Holidate clearly wants to go for the feel-good rom-com vibe but everything about it is just stale and boring. Had the film taken a satirical approach towards its genre, we could have potentially ended up with a romp that was actually enjoyable. But while there are a few feeble moments of self-awareness here, Holidate promptly defeats the whole point by proceeding to engage in the very cliches that it is meant to be making fun of.

The plot is so worn-out and dull that it never leaves you in any doubt about the storyline’s eventual outcome. The predictability is made all the more frustrating by the fact that the lead characters are basically just unlikeable and it’s hard to care about their lives, romantic or otherwise.

The major issue here – one of several, really – is Tiffany Paulsen’s trite, raunchy, dated writing. What could have been an amusing idea quickly becomes problematic (tired stereotypes, casual sexism) in Paulsen’s hands, and it’s hard to tell how the project was greenlit based on this screenplay. Why the likes of Emma Roberts (who isn’t the best fit for her part) and Kristin Chenoweth (grating in the role of Sloane’s kooky aunt) chose to be part of this film is another mystery.

Instead of doing something interesting and fresh, John Whitesell and his team have chosen to retread the same old eye-roll-worthy rom-com cliches that have plagued the laziest examples of the genre. Watch only if you adore simple, straight forward romantic comedies; anyone who isn’t enamoured with the genre will be better off watching pretty much anything else instead.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection

In the picture