Review: Holidate (2020)

Just be single. It’s fine, really.

As a young man whose been single for some time now, I’ve endured my fair share of, “when are you going to settle down and have children?” type of conversations at various holiday gatherings.  They can be pretty annoying but I’ve found that with the right glass of wine and the right responses, they can be brief and shut down fairly quickly. Holidate (2020), the holiday movie equivalent of a turducken, takes that conversation and stretches it into a nearly two-hour long movie that has nothing new to offer the holiday movie genre. Or romantic-comedies for that matter. Or even Netflix originals. The sense that the movie is attempting to break new ground is apparent, but ultimately Holidate comes off about as stale as an old Christmas cookie.

Credit: imdb.com / Netflix

Holidate follows Sloane and Jackson, two singles who are fed up with having to face every holiday alone. To put an end to awkward dates and intrusive family members begging for them to settle down, they pledge to be each other’s plus-ones for a year’s worth of celebrations.

Now that we’re into November, I’m more than ready to start embracing holiday movies. As well, I’m always down for a rom-com. And I’m ALWAYS down for Krisitn Chenoweth to play a drunken, flirtatious, aunt! Keeping that in mind, I should have found Holidate at least mildly entertaining. Unfortunately, there just isn’t much to get excited about with this movie. The biggest problem is that it’s so ridiculously predictable that you can skip through large parts of the movie and still be completely unsurprised when you reach the inevitable conclusion. In fact, I’d say the entire last hour are a collection of scenes whose impact on the story and its characters could be boiled down to a short montage. I get that rom-coms have a habit of being extremely formulaic, but what makes Holidate so egregious is that it feels helplessly outdated and unoriginal. Really, it’s lazily written. When you have your male lead talking about how clingy women are, and both leads harping on how unrealistic rom-coms are, it just feels tiresome. Like, we’ve seen this countless times before, handled MUCH better. The dialogue in Holidate sounds like it was the screenwriter’s first time writing a script and just wrapped a handful of rom-com clichés up in holiday wrapping. Sigh…I expect much more from rom-coms in 2020.

Speaking of dated content, part of what makes Holidate not worthy of watching is how inconsequential and unrelatable the premise is. Why do they need fake dates for St.Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo to go out and drink? First of all, a date isn’t required to celebrate either of those. Or any holiday really. Secondly, either bring a friend or MEET SOMEONE AT THESE BARS YOU’RE GOING TO. Why does Mother’s Day require you to bring a date? Why does Sloane say, ⁃ “I guess it would be nice to bring someone home for Easter?” Is that something people say? What happened to bringing a friend? Or your own personal bottle of vodka? The whole thing just seemed unnecessary to me. The premise of them needing dates for the other holidays is weak. This should have just been a movie leading up to Christmas. Then we could have at least had Chenoweth singing a fabulous Christmas song. This movie seriously underutilized Chenoweth. And Manish Dayal! I was wayyyy more into their love story than Sloane and Jackson’s to be honest.

Emma Roberts is a talented, charismatic, versatile actress. Whether it’s romance, comedy, or horror, she’s always a delight to watch. As Sloane, she’s a much more enjoyable lead than Luke Bracey who plays Jackson, but even her natural charisma isn’t enough to sell me on their romance. There simply wasn’t enough spark between the two to make their love story one that’s worth investing in. At times her jaded, spinster attitude feels forced, but it remains that behind Chenoweth, she’s undeniably the best part of this movie. In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear yet, please put Kristin Chenoweth in more things, Hollywood. Hopefully nothing as repetitive as Holidate though. The movie has a nasty habit of playing through the same scenes and having the same conversations over and over again. A solid 20 minutes could have been shaved from the runtime if we only had to sit through each scene / conversation once.

Credit: rogerebert.com / Netflix

If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit by watching a feel-good movie, I encourage you to choose something more fun than Holidate. Something with more engaging characters, a more fun storyline, less repetition, and perhaps something with a little more restraint. It took LITERALLY two and a half minutes for them to say “Holidate” and describe what it is. Sigh…this movie is so constantly on the nose about everything. If you do watch it, you’re going to need Christmas cookies, Halloween candy, and Valentine’s Day chocolate to get through it.

Have you seen Holidate?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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