It’s November and that means ’tis the season for Mariah Carey and holiday-centric romantic comedies. Netflix has been rising as a new staple for those who are fans of the genre and with movies like Holidate, they’re showing why. Holidate, a Netflix Original, is directed by John Whitesell and written by Tiffany Paulsen. It is a rom-com for every single holiday that stars Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, and Kristin Chenoweth.
In Holidate, Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) hate the holidays. They constantly find themselves single, sitting at the kids’ table, or stuck with awkward dates. But when these two strangers meet one particularly bad Christmas, they make a pact to be each other’s “holidate” for every festive occasion throughout the next year. Inspired by her aunt who brings a new man to every holiday family gathering, Sloane and Jackson become each other’s security nets for bad holidays spent alone or with first dates that turn out to be a little obsessive. With a mutual disdain for the holidays, and assuring themselves that they have no romantic interest in the other, they make the perfect team. However, as a year of absurd celebrations come to an end, Sloane and Jackson find that sharing everything they hate may just prove to be something they unexpectedly love.
Holidate is a color-by-numbers romantic comedy that could be boring in its predictability but succeeds for two reasons. The first reason is that at its heart, it is a holiday rom-com for people who hate holidays. Movies like The Christmas Prince or any of the variety of Hallmark Christmas movie offerings, or even Last Christmas, are films that focus on the atmosphere of the holidays and for those who love them. On the other hand, Holidate is about two scrooges who just want to make it through the holidays, and that’s what makes their story so endearing, even if predictable. Additionally, when they say a date for all holidays they mean every holiday. From July 4th, Thanksgiving, and Mother’s Day to Easter, we get the chance to see how Sloane and Jackson grow in their friendship, deal with Sloane’s family, and of course, get to the point where they finally begin to develop.
Another reason that Holidate succeeds is because of the chemistry between Roberts and Bracey. From their meet-cute in the mall, the scene in which they meet for the first time under hilarious circumstances, to a drunken Cinco de Mayo, a Dirty Dancing moment, and a July 4th accident Sloane and Jackson are a lead couple that is fun to watch. While the two of them unpack their respective baggage, we get the chance to see a romance bloom from a strong foundation of friendship.
While the two dance on the “will they won’t they” line that runs through nearly rom-com about strangers, they never do so in a way that casts their friendship to the side. As we watch them move through humorous moments that help them bond, we see elements of When Harry Met Sally. We see the two of them doing more than just fall in love, we see them grow as people and help each other grow. The two support each other emotionally, learn who each other are, and when the time comes to confront their feelings they of course fall apart before coming back together.
The set design for the holiday sequences and Sloane’s wardrobe are two elements that stand out. While the film does showcase the most stereotypical of holiday celebrations, the ones that happen in bars like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo genuinely capture the atmosphere in all the things that make you eye-roll in a humorous way that makes them feel real. Each holiday feels like it’s been pulled from celebration stories we tell with friends and it makes the film all the more relatable. Additionally, while Sloane is well-dressed, every item of clothing she wears is something you feel you can find which makes her a rom-com heroine that honestly feels more like an actual woman than the fashionable fairy most female leads in the genre become.
One of the other elements that both offer elements of difference and eye-rolling is the raunchy humor that happens throughout Holidate. Now, there are moments that show why an R-rated rom-com is just plain fun, but there are other moments, like with Sloane’s aunt, where it just feels uncomfortable. However, Holidate is a great start to the season of holiday rom-coms. It’s relatable, it’s cute, and it’s raunchy. It’s not a masterpiece but it is just a damn good start to Christmas – which apparently begins November 1st.
Holidate is streaming exclusively on Netflix.
Holidate is a great start to holiday rom-coms. It’s relatable, it’s cute, and it’s raunchy. It’s not a masterpiece but it is just a damn good start to Christmas – which apparently begins November 1st.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.