Holidate has held a spot in Netflix’s Top 10 since its October 28 release, but let’s face it, the movie is a flimsy excuse for a vacation movie – in fact, it isn’t. No matter how many fleeting ugly Christmas sweaters, picturesque locations and holiday-themed posters the factory-made film throws at us, Holidate is still not a Christmas movie. Unfortunately, it’s not a good romantic comedy either.
OK, yeah, the movie starts on Christmas. Sloane (Emma Roberts) is still vacillating for six months after her French boyfriend cheated on her with a Starbucks barista named Rainbow. Insert tired jokes about sitting at the kids table and dying alone. Meanwhile, her equally cynical but far more charismatic counterpart Jackson (Luke Bracey) gets oral sex as boring as the three khakis he later opens, and he finds out the girl he happened to hook up with is “crazy”, because “that’s what the holidays are for women.” This sequence is the first of many gross scenes meant to let you know this isn’t your mom’s feel good vacation movie – it’s raunchy!
Jackson later meets Sloane at a department store and they vow to make each other a “holiday,” also known as the mandatory wrong date for any vacation. Although they only speak on holidays, Sloane changes Jackson’s view of relationships over the course of a year, because that’s what the modern rom-com cliché seems to have been limited to.
Despite his formula for painting by numbers that stinks of committee approval, Holidate makes no sense. There is no character development, no real romance, and absolutely no heart. Even Luke Bracey’s Australian accent and sexy charm can’t save the story as it falls back on diarrhea, lightning bolts, and racial stereotypes. Do we really need to see all of the Cinco de Mayo cheers, Mother’s Day toasts, and drunken St. Patrick’s Day celebrations that we missed in quarantine in 2020?
The most frustrating is that Holidate acknowledges the genre it’s trapped in and tries to tell us what kind of movie it is is not. On her first holiday, a New Year’s Eve party, Sloane Jackson laments that romantic comedies are so touchless and real life is not as easy as dancing with Ryan Gosling Crazy stupid love. No, Gosling doesn’t have a cameo in this film (presumably because he has taste in his filmography).
Holidate could have worked. Just move the timeline and it’s instantly better: start with two bad Thanksgivings, followed by Sloane and Jackson faux-dates each other for any holiday event before December 25th, including Christmas office parties, friends’ hannukkahs, Christmas Eve and Days overcoming their respective fear of commitment and confession of love on New Year’s Eve. It’s easy. It could have been so easy. Why did we have this vacation headache instead?
Instead of watching HolidateJust turn on some of the much smarter movies Holidate trying to make fun of something like When Harry met Sally, Plus one, even Love actually.