You might think it's a little early to be debuting a “holiday season” rom-com. But Netflix’s “Holidate” doesn’t just take place over Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. It covers most of the major holidays throughout the year.
The hook: two Chicago millennials — Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) — meet and decide to start dating. But only on holidays.
Both have recently gotten out of bad relationships. Both are looking for a change. So this unconventional dating strategy seems like the perfect next move. They only have to see each other “occasionally”. They vow not to become “friends with benefits”. And their arrangement means they won’t be alone on holidays or at holiday-themed occasions, like a New Year’s Eve party, a Cinco de Mayo bash or a wedding (that, conveniently, also happens to be on Labor Day).
Sloane & Jackson are the classic “will they/won’t they” movie couple. And Roberts and Bracey are both likable and share nice chemistry. The major problem with “Holidate” is director John Whitesell and writer Tiffany Paulsen’s reliance on tasteless antics and raunchy dialogue. None of it is funny. Many of the film’s gags are simply ridiculous, including a 4th of July mutilation and every scene involving Kristin Chenoweth (she plays Sloane’s aunt).
Outside of the premise, there’s very little inspired material in the script (except for the use of the Ludacris song “Move Bitch” while kids are feverishly scampering around at an Easter egg hunt). There’s a handful of genuinely funny one-liners, but just as many questionably offensive ones. And if I have to hear one more rom-com character describe how real-life isn’t like movie rom-coms – and then their life ends-up like one in a movie rom-com…!
Roberts and Bracey keep this latest holiday comedy for grownups from turning into a total dumpster fire. It’s not as enjoyable as “A Bad Moms Christmas” and it won’t reach the cult status of “Bad Santa”. But hey, “Holidate” is a heck of a lot better than the giant lump of coal of the genre: Vince Vaughn & Reese Witherspoon’s “Four Christmases”.