Director: John Whitesell
Writers: Tiffany Paulsen
Stars: Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey
Release Date: October 28, 2020

Holidate ticks every single Netflix romantic comedy box. The journey of learning self-respect and vulnerability is centered around holidays and involves two unlikely lovers with numerous side characters throwing their eccentric traits into the ring. Sounds familiar right? Holidate does not break any new ground, but it is far more entertaining than it has any right to be.

Emma Roberts plays Sloane and Luke Bracey plays Jackson, and the entire movie relies on the chemistry they have together. For most of the movie, the two do pair well with one another, but it has to be said that most of the heavy lifting is done by Bracey. Somehow with this over-raunchy script, the character of Jackson is able to get over the “hot man with an accent” standard and elevate himself, and therefore the movie.

Bracey overacts at times with massive reactions and numerous smoldering looks, but it fits well into the framework of Holidate. The movie itself knows it is stupid, and it allows both Roberts and Bracey to just go for it. The second meeting between Sloane and Jackson even pokes fun at the romantic comedy genre and the touchstones every such story tells. The way Holidate tries to buck the trend is by going above and beyond in certain areas, and the most notable area is vulgarity.

Did you expect a blowjob and cum joke within the first 10 minutes of this movie? I did not, but that is exactly what it delivers. Right from the get-go, director John Whitesell and writer Tiffany Paulsen take the audience by the collar and let them know what they are in store for. Now, do all the nasty jokes work? No. The scene where Jackson is having his dead finger (after it was blown off by a firework, classic), sucked by Kristin Chenoweth’s Aunt Susan character may want to make you throw your television out the window. But then you remember earlier in the film when Sloane and Jackson’s chemistry shines while bantering well about jokingly having sex in a bathroom at Sloane’s brother’s wedding.

Before wrapping up, it has to be said that Chenoweth as Aunt Susan is by far the worst part of this movie. Literally right way, from her first appearance on screen, it is red alert. Aunt Susan is an overzealous fun-loving aunt who flaunts for everyone to show it, and naturally she has a romantic fling with a potential suitor for Sloane. It is overplayed and meant to be awkward throughout Holidate, so if that is your thing…I mean more power to you, but I personally will have to respectfully disagree.

Other side characters that struck out were York (Jake Manley), Sloane’s younger brother, and Neil (Andrew Bachelor), Jackson’s friends at the golf course. Neither of these characters were funny. Just misses.

A pair of side characters that stick out are Elaine (Frances Fisher) as Sloane’s mom, and Abby (Jessica Capshaw), Sloane’s older sister. Elaine is snippy, snarky and very open, but Fisher does it all with a smile and allows for Sloane’s reactions to her to shine. Abby is overzealous in finding fun, but every time Capshaw stepped into the scene there was an uptick in the smiles and energy.

Holidate tries to break new ground and struck the shovel on solid rock rather than fertile soil. They laid out the blueprint for an original take on the romantic comedy, but decided to build the groundwork on wet, swampy land. It is uneven, inconsistent, but the highs of Sloane and Jackson interacting with one another allow the audience to hang on to the leash longer than expected.

Stanko Rating: B- (2.5/5 Stars)

“Holidate” IMDB
“Holidate” Rotten Tomatoes

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