Holidate: A Rom-Com With A Side Of Holidays

Emma Roberts as Sloane Reed and Luke Bracey as Jackson in HOLIDATE (2020). Photo credit: Steve Dietl/NETFLIX.

Holidate, starring Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey, is a new Netflix romantic comedy that comes with a side of holiday offerings.

This is an R-rated film.  Please consider this before adding it to your rotation of holiday films to watch over the next two months.  Holidate might not be on the same level of Home Alone, Elf, or National Lampoon’s Xmas Vacation but there’s enough here worthy of repeat viewings. And with the way it’s written, you can watch this film during any holiday.  Well, not just any holiday but I hope you get the idea.  You’re more than welcome to watch the film on those days, of course.

Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) have their meet-cute at the mall when they return their Xmas presents.  Or whatever you wish to call it because it’s a means to an end when they first meet.  Sloane is coming off of spending Xmas with her family following a breakup.  Jackson spends it with a casual date and her family.  To say that his Xmas is awkward would not be an understatement.  You cannot help but cringe at what transpires.  From the moment they meet in Holidate, there’s no way of knowing if they’ll develop feelings for each other.  At the same time, you also get a sense of a throwback to the 1980s and 1990s rom-coms.

Sloane and Jackson aren’t really fans of the holidays.  However, New Year’s Eve is coming up so they decide to go out on a holidate after Sloane explains the concept.  Simply put, they are each other’s plus-one for whatever festive occasion is coming up.  Friends without benefits–well except not having holidays get uncomfortable.  At what point will they decide they want to spend more than just the holidays together?

The film surrounds Roberts and Bracey with a reliable set of performers.  All with their own quirks.  But it’s Kristen Chenowith who steals the show as Aunt Susan.

This is a film that I can certainly resonate with especially since I’m still single.  The pressure I feel is practically worse since coming out as transgender.  It is so high to the point where anxiety can be really bad during these holidays!  When you see photos of all your friends getting married and having children, you can’t help but feel like a third wheel during any get-together.  Nobody wants to be at the kids’ table when they’re nearing 30.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t been able to celebrate almost any holiday together with friends or family this year but it was nice to watch a movie dealing with holidays.  I miss holidays and people.  Sure, there’s a few holidays here that I do not celebrate because of my religious beliefs.  In the end, this doesn’t matter because of the likeable charm between romantic leads Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey.

By spreading this film out over a year, Tiffany Paulsen’s script is able to throw a fresh twist on the romantic comedy genre.  Paulsen mixes up the rom-com with holidays.  Instead of one holiday, there are multiple holidays featured within the film.  The film does play along the typical genre beats but even the most predictable moments are still funny.  Take the ending, for instance.  Even when it’s something we know is coming–thank you, genre trope–the thing I most appreciate here is that the approach is hysterical.

Finally, I now get to the part about setting the film in Chicago.  I love that it’s set in Chicago but I’m also disappointed because this was filmed in Georgia.  I did notice a shot of the old Chicago Tribune building in the background.  I’m assuming this is either stock footage or from before building renovations started.  There’s a nice shot of Wacker Drive after a holiday party!  I do give the film points for trying but again, it’s disappointing to not invest more in Chicago’s film scene.

DIRECTOR:  John Whitesell
SCREENWRITER:  Tiffany Paulsen
CAST: Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Andrew Bachelor, Jessica Capshaw, Manish Dayal, Alex Moffat, Jake Manley, Cynthy Wu, with Frances Fisher and Kristin Chenoweth

Netflix launches Holidate on October 28, 2020. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.