Holidate (2020)

Holidate
Director: John Whitesell
Writer: Tiffany Paulsen
Cast: Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Kristin Chenoweth, Frances Fisher, Andrew Bachelor, Jessica Capshaw, Manish Dayal, Alex Moffat, Cynthy Wu, Jake Manley, Julien Marlon Samani, Nicola Peltz
Seen on: 2.1.2022

Plot:
After a brutal break-up, Sloane (Emma Roberts) is alone for Christmas, a fact that her family will never let her forget, trying to set her up anyway they can. When Sloane’s more free-spirited aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth) suggest that she should just get herself a holidate, a guy to keep her company during the holiday parties, to escape the hassle, Sloane is hesitant at first. But then she meets Jackson (Luke Bracey) who is equally fed up with dating around the holidays. They agree to try holidating for New Year’s, and since it works out rather well, they agree to continue until they have something better. But maybe there is nothing better for them than each other.

Holidate is a cute film with a few good moments, but both Sloane and Jackson remained a little too bland to make the film really memorable.

The film poster showing Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) with uncertain faical expressions standing next to a Christmas tree.

There are two things that really stood out to me with Holidate. The first is the intense pressure that Sloane is facing with her family and their constant pushing her towards a romantic relationship. It was almost unbearable (and I think very little of that has to do with my being aromantic myself), and the film seems to see it mostly as quirky, as if that is just how families are, what can you do? (I dunno, run away?)

The other thing was Kristin Chenoweth who is simply perfect (as usual) as Susan with her extravagant personality. It was a whole lot of fun to watch her. Plus, Susan’s character arc and her romance with Farooq (Manish Dayal) was sweet and cute, and absolutely more engaging than the central romance. As was the subplot revolving around Sloane’s brother York (Jake Manley) and his fiancée Liz (Cynthy Wu).

Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) celebrating Cinco de Mayo together.

And that’s really the film’s main issue: Sloane and Jackson were just so boring. The film tried very hard to make Sloane quirky (look, she eats a lot of chocolate and she loves funny pyjamas), and it tried way too little to not make Jackson an ass (ah, yeah, he’s a bit of a sexist, that’s just guys, I guess). Neither Roberts nor Bracey have enough charisma to really pull those roles off.

I did like the general idea of the holidating as a set-up (and I like fake dating as a trope) and it structured the narrative nicely. Some things were a little too much, but that’s par for the course in a comedy and could have worked if there had been enough charm around. But I just never really got into Sloane and Jackson as people, and that kept me from enjoying their romance.

Sloane (Emma Roberts) and her aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth) at the family Christmas party.

Summarizing: meh.

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