Christmas Film Review: The Holidate

A breezy, inoffensive offering, The Holidate is mainly sold by solid lead performances

Starring Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey

In days gone by, there used to be television movies (there are still, of course). Television movies had to be of a certain qualities. Those that weren’t even good enough to be broadcast on television would be relegated to straight-to-VHS. Lots of what streaming services produce, because of the changing tastes and standards, often don’t have to be of much more quality than either a television movie or a straight-to-VHS offering, as it simply doesn’t have to hold up to the same cinematic levels as what would be produced at the box office. The Holidate is the perfect sort of movie to release on Netflix, as it requires little attention and features nice-enough characters for the audience to remain quietly invested.

The premise of The Holidate is simple: both Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) have endured dreadful Christmases. Sloane is tired of being treated like she’s pathetic when she arrives at her family’s Christmas unhappily single, while Jackson is dragged along to his new girlfriend’s house and realises that she is far more committed to him than he is to her. Meeting each other while returning their respective gifts, and inspired by her slightly unhinged aunt’s (Kristin Chenoweth) technique of bringing a new date to each family gathering, Sloane and Jackson decide to be each other’s “Holidate”: that is, they attend holiday events together.

It’s an interesting enough idea, and gives the film plenty of different scenarios to play with, but the film does play fast and loose as to what it considers to be an event-worthy holiday. Though events like New Year’s and Valentine’s Day make sense, it is perhaps pushing it to demand a date to St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and Labor Day when none of these generally require a date (or any celebration at all, in fact).

The film does take great delight at deriding romantic comedy cliches, but also doesn’t do terribly much to eschew these tropes. Inevitably, despite the fact that the pair decide they are Holidates and nothing more, they both develop stronger feelings for each other, even though the film does very little to sell the legitimacy of their match, other than the fact that the audience likely take it for granted that they will end up together. They are not especially compatible, other than the fact that they gradually get to know each other and show a base level of concern for the other’s well being which seems to go beyond that of just being a casual date.

However, it’s an enjoyable enough time, and captivating enough to hold one’s attention of a quiet evening. Additionally, even though snow features in its poster, The Holidate can be enjoyed at any time of year, so it’s understandable that Netflix released it with plenty of room before Christmas.

The Holidate is streaming now on Netflix

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