Let’s not make this an annual tradition, shall we?
The new Netflix holiday romcom has a cheesy title. “Holidate” is that name. It means you have a date for the holidays with no commitments and no emotional attachments, whatsoever. In point of fact, they’re like friends with benefits, minus the benefits. Anyway, that title sounds as lame as that “Snow Way” pun, and believe me, if I hear that ever again, I’ll rip my head off. I’m just glad Olaf never used it.
The movie is full of predictable elements and gives us an ugly opening. Emma Roberts as the eeyore Sloane comes to her family home at Christmas where everyone judge her as a nobody. Her mother (Francis Fisher) nags to her about getting a husband, her siblings (Jessica Capshaw and Jake Manley) are either married or engaged, and her trampy aunt (Kristin Chenoweth) is screwing a mall Santa as her holidate.
And Luke Bracey as the Australian Jackson, who arrives with his girlfriend Carly (Aimee Carrero) to her parents’ house, and they’re creepy AF. The worst moment in this segment is when he was the only one to be given a present, and she sticks her hands out demanding something in return. And she tells him they had sex in front of her parents, both of whom seem chilled about it. That’s when he makes his escape.
These two mismatched characters meet when they return their X-Mas gifts, and decide to be holidates for New Years. Sloane would rather be alone watching porn on Valentine’s Day than have her mother set her up with her new neighbor (Manish Dayal), but Jackson suggests they be holidates for all the holidays in the year.
The same day I saw the movie, I’ve had a conversation with my parents how how we’re going to deal with Thanksgiving and Christmas, given the circumstances. My aunts have talked about it too early, and we’re just going to have to wait and see. The point is I’ve had a more exhilarating time with that discussion than I’ve had watching “Holidate.”
Roberts and Bracey are the only actors in this movie you actually care about, because of how they good solid jobs at portraying characters from different worlds but have the same problems. But they have to be victimized in unnecessary and recycled comedy situations, and the rest of the actors are down to next to nothing. Sometimes you find a tickle or two, but you’re not laughing out loud.
The comedy has to rely on Bracey’s character blowing off his middle finger with fireworks (how original), and Roberts is nervously driving with an expired license. It’s handled so haphazardly, that you feel like writer Tiffany Paulson desperately needed some humor and violence mixed together. Ergo, that scene is forced and labored. And even worse is when Chenoweth has to sexually put his bloody finger in her mouth. This is one of her worst performances to date, and I love this actress.
And you also have to get a tasteless and predictable scene when Roberts accidentally takes laxatives after a Halloween party, and has trouble getting her dress off. That’s when she craps herself. I’m just glad it was off-screen, because it could have been worse. It could have been “Movie 43” all over again.
When the leads are not trying to be funny and intend to be serious, they’re likable, but when they do try to be funny, they’re desperate.
To quote Roger Ebert on his Worst of 1994 episode on “Siskel & Ebert,” “Comedies without laughs. How do they play? Kind of like dramas without brains.” That’s what “Holidate” is.
Streaming on Netflix