Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) hate the holidays. Their enduring singledom leaves them subject to the judgment of their meddling family members or stuck with clingy, awkward dates on each festive occasion. When these two meet, they pledge to be each other’s plus-ones for each holiday celebration over the course of the year.
Even though Halloween was just a few days ago, we are already coming in hot with the new Christmas movies, and honestly, I’m not complaining. Not only is Christmas my favorite time of the year, but it is one that is always filled with tons of smiles, warmth, and love.
That being said, however, a lot of Christmas-themed movies can be incredibly cheesy and downright silly. Usually, we have an onslaught of romantic comedies centered around the holiday, almost always ending up on the Lifetime or Hallmark channel. These films are usually the worst of the worst.
But when I saw the poster for Netflix’s new romantic comedy Christmas film Holidate and I noticed that it stars Emma Roberts, my hopes went up considerably. It looked like it could be a genuinely sweet and charming diversion and a great way to get excited about the upcoming holiday season, and that’s exactly what it is, and nothing more. This is definitely not one of the best Christmas movies in history, but it’s also nowhere near being the worst. Its main purpose is to warm your heart and make you laugh consistently, and in that regard, it mostly succeeds.
This is made all the more shocking when you realize that Holidate was directed by John Whitesell, who has directed some extremely bad movies in the past such as Malibu’s Most Wanted and Big Momma’s House. Who would have thought that a director that usually makes bad films could finally make one that’s authentic and sweet? I certainly didn’t.
The script by Tiffany Paulsen is extremely funny for the most part, although its focus on raunchy comedy did grow old after a while and it almost seemed as if they were relying on the raunch factor too heavily at times. But gratefully, the movie is fairly funny when it needs to be and it made me smile consistently throughout.
But script aside, the film’s biggest strength is without a doubt its lead performances from both Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey, who have some of the best chemistry of the whole year here. Both their characters Sloane and Jackson definitely have feelings for one another, but they are just too afraid to admit it.
Their agreement to only “date” during holidays doesn’t necessarily work out the way they had planned it to. Not because they don’t get along, but rather the opposite. They get along perfectly, but they are too scared to rush into a relationship. They often deny the chemistry they have, but it’s certainly there. As fun and entertaining as this concept was, I couldn’t help but feel as though it were too similar to 2018’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. In that film, a high school student named Lara agrees to pretend-date her best friend, only for the two of them to find out that they actually like each other.
Also, there are a couple of instances throughout Holidate where things get a little bit too corny and sappy and it felt like it sort of betrayed the film’s otherwise great mocking of romantic comedies. Overall though, this Christmas-centered comedy is a delightfully funny and charming segway into the holiday season.
Holidate may be extremely corny and sappy, but its lead performances from Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey as well as its sense of humor make this rom-com worth watching.
Overall Grade: B
MPAA Rating: TV-MA
Directed by: John Whitesell
Distributed by: Netflix
Release Date: October 28, 2020
Running Time: 103 minutes