Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey have been making each other their own for a whole year HOLIDATE and head straight towards an amorous happy ending. The Netflix rom-com is harmless and naive at its worst, but damn funny at its best and almost defiant in its consistent implementation of its premise. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Holidate (USA 2020)
Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) hate the holidays. They are constantly alone, sitting at the children’s table and when they do bring a date to the family celebration, it usually ends in chaos. When the two of them run into each other by chance in the shopping mall after a particularly bad Christmas, they make a pact to make each other a “holidate” for every festive occasion in the coming year. With a lot of disdain for the holidays and the certainty that they have no romantic interest in each other, they make the perfect team. But as a year of absurd celebrations comes to an end, Sloane and Jackson realize that sharing so many hateful things together could ultimately lead to love…
The US version of the VOD store iTunes already lists 22 different Christmas rom-coms between October and December 2020. They all wear confusingly similar covers and have titles like “Candy Cane Christmas”, “Christmas in Carolina”, “Christmas in Montana” or “Christmas under the Stars”. In this country you hardly get to hear about this flood of romantic holiday comedies (or dramas). And none of these films come to the cinema either. They just flood US streaming services. But it is apparently so successful that this observation cannot only be made this year, but this bizarre trend is already in its umpteenth round. So if American film lovers are apparently willing to spend several million dollars a year on third-rate direct-to-VOD Christmas films, what kind of open arms must subscription-based streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Co. have? ? After all, users can watch as many (Christmas) films as they want without paying for each one individually. As a result, Netflix in particular has delivered a lot in recent years: “A Christmas Prince” from 2017 has now grown to a total of three parts. And from November 19th, the winter Vanessa Hudgens vehicle “Princess Swap” will also be entering its second round. John Whitesell’s comedy “Holidate”, which is currently rocking the Netflix charts, seems at first glance to be in the same vein: a man and a woman reluctantly spend the Christmas holidays together and then end up falling in love with each other. It sounds like business as usual, but it’s not quite.
From then on, Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) spend every holiday imaginable together.
It would be going too far to absolve “Holidate” of all holiday rom-com clichés. Because of course you know from the first second how the film ends – and there are one or two stages on the way to the happy ending that you can easily piece together in advance, as long as you’ve only watched any other Hollywood romantic comedy beforehand this color has seen. Sloane and Jackson first think they’re stupid, then they don’t, then they do again for a brief moment (misunderstandings and stuff…) but in the end, of course, there’s “Happily ever after…” – so far, so generic. And when “Holidate” begins with the main character Sloane having to listen to real accusations from her hunchbacked relatives at Christmas about her dancing without a male companion again, the latest work from the “Big Mamas House 2” director is threatening John Whitesell just getting fucking nasty. But at the latest when screenwriter Tiffany Paulson (“Nancy Drew – Girl Detective”) After the brief introduction to Sloane’s family traditions, he sets out to introduce Jackson and his no less unpleasant Christmas situation, “Holidate” inevitably takes you away. Not just because of Chris Pratt lookalike Luke Bracey (“Point Break”) encounters the whole holiday superficiality with a remarkably amusing snark (after his Christmas date makes fun of him for not giving her anything for the holiday – despite prior agreement), he without further ado takes the present he had previously received, leaves her apartment and hugs both of her as well as her unpleasant, intrusive parents to say something about the absurd situation), but also because the treatment of the main characters is always sincere, despite all the typical Hollywood kitsch.
“But when screenwriter Tiffany Paulson, after the brief introduction to Sloane’s family traditions, starts to introduce Jackson and his no less unpleasant Christmas situation, “Holidate” inevitably takes you away.”
From the beginning, the film takes the side of the protagonists, who are extremely cynical about holiday traditions. “Holidate” is not a film that condemns such occasions per se, but rather the expectations that accompany them. And although there are several opportunities to do so, it is not even directed against Sloan’s family, which is a bit too whimsical (on the other hand, the fact that we don’t find out about Jackson at all what kind of background he comes from is a shame – it would probably have been easy exploded the narrative framework). Instead, the creators use the clichéd peculiarities of the Sloane family – the aunt is horny, the mother is an overprotective mother hen and the little niece, even at primary school age, has a more consistent love life than Sloane did at almost 30 – for a handful of gags, but never allow them to be used push to the foreground. “Holidate” is solely about Sloane and Jackson, who not only display a very likeable chemistry with each other, but also help the dramaturgically predictable script to achieve various successful humorous tips. This also includes the defiance with which Tiffany Paulson implements her concept of a holiday date. Because what would a holiday date be without the real holidays? And so the events in “Holidate” only take place on exactly these days: from Christmas to New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving. And the fact that, for example, Mother’s Day is also mentioned, on which Sloane and her Holidate suddenly sit in the park eating cake with Sloane’s mother (with a very smug reaction to her penetrating questions about Sloane’s love life), illustrates the silly persistence with which the makers implement their idea true to the motto “Now more than ever!”
Sloane receives the tip about the Holidate from her aunt Susan (Kristin-Chenoweth).
The fact that “Holidate” falls into a typical Hollywood rom-com routine at times (particularly the expected “due to a misunderstanding, the couple breaks up for a short time before getting back together at the end” phase) is easy, even with a total running time of less than 100 minutes too long for you to know how it ends), it’s a shame especially because it’s thanks to the precise direction that even scenes that threaten to drift into tastelessness, such as a laxative accident, still have a harmless twist in the best sense of the word Romantic and cute things happen. After Sloane accidentally ingests countless digestive accelerators instead of acid blockers, this faux pas does not result in the expected pee-poo scene, but instead becomes one of the best, particularly intimate scenes in the film in its playful romance. “Holidate” is full of such small, sympathetic observations. Be it dealing with the good-looking doctor Faarooq (Manish Dayal, “Madame Mallory and the Scent of Curry”), with whom Sloane’s mother desperately tries to hook up her daughter, Sloane’s repeated surprising reunions with her ex Luc (Julien Marlon, “2 Broke Girls”) or a short tryst between the mother of the family and Black Panther that ends differently than expected.
“The fact that “Holidate” falls into a typical Hollywood rom-com routine in the meantime is such a shame because it is thanks to the precise direction that even scenes that threaten to drift into tastelessness, such as a laxative accident, still have an impact in the best sense of the word A harmless turn into romantic cuteness happens.”
Not only Luke Bracey is excellent in the role of the holiday grouch, but so is Emma Roberts (“nerve”) I like the role of a single woman who is constantly annoyed by the stress of tradition and who – just like the rest of the ensemble – talks remarkably openly about sex. At the beginning of the film you stumble over the fact that “Holidate” – after all a harmless Netflix rom-com – has been given an age rating of 12 and over. The reason is the pleasantly self-confident approach to physical love and a relatively rough language, which results from the fact that nobody minces their words when it comes to men and women getting closer to each other. Despite its silly premise, “Holidate” ends up feeling surprisingly lifelike and grown-up.
Conclusion: The dramaturgically predictable RomCom “Holidate” impresses first and foremost with the wonderfully open-hearted chemistry between Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey and secondly with the almost defiantly consistent staging of a likeable, silly premise.
“Holidate” is now available to stream on Netflix.