Review: ‘Holidate’ fails to portray romance, comedy

TRL's Ryan Wang said that the characters in

Courtesy of Netflix

TRL’s Ryan Wang said that the characters in “Holidate” lack “necessary energy,” which results in minimal “screen chemistry” in the movie.

In anticipation of the upcoming Christmas season, Netflix released a holiday-themed romantic comedy that revolves around the unstable, fast-moving culture of finding a temporary partner to celebrate the holidays with. On the surface, “Holidate” seems like a promising film that could prove to be charming and cute, but in the end, it fails to deliver on almost all aspects regarding both romance and comedy. A lack of screen-chemistry, awkward-cheesiness, and the overall disingenuity of all the characters makes “Holidate” a tedious and uncomfortable watch, which slowly arrives at a painfully obvious conclusion. 

“Holidate” begins in bleak fashion with the introduction of Sloane (Emma Roberts), a moody yet romantic cynic that tries to establish herself early on as a “cool girl” who lives a carefree, independent life. However, Roberts seems almost limited in her role, and her character comes off as forced, awkward and unrealistic. In fact, Sloane’s entire family in the film seem to be forced into typical archetypes that simply don’t work. Each supporting character seems to have a specific role to play within the film, but it’s brutally obvious that they never change, never grow, and are simply static. Each character seems to lack the necessary energy, and the resulting screen chemistry is abysmal. The one relationship within the film that seems to have potential is between Roberts and her co-star Luke Bracey, who plays a suave Aussie golf-pro named Jackson, who proposes to be Sloane’s “Holidate.” It’s a cute narrative that simply takes way too many wrong turns. 

Simply put, there are certain holidays that don’t require a holidate. While celebrating Christmas, New Years, and Valentine’s Day with a significant other makes sense, Sloane and Jackson managed to find the reason to celebrate Cinco De Mayo, St. Patrick’s day, and even Mother’s Day together. It’s an unnecessary turn of events that draw screen-time away from other scenes that could have been developed further to actually gain some sort of merit. The characters seem to complement each other, from Jackson’s steady and stoic nature, to Sloane’s impulsive and unpredictable personality, but a lacking script that forces awkward and unnecessary dialogue ruins every potentially precious moment within the film. The comedy is forced. The romance is virtually non-existent. What’s left is 90 minutes packed with unappealing characters, a relatively boring story and not a single genuine laugh. 

What’s even more concerning is that this film ends up eliciting a sense of frustration about halfway through because it’s unbearably obvious that both characters have feelings for one another, but both refuse to openly admit it. The conclusion that most would’ve figured out early on, is dragged on throughout the film, and not even characters such as Neil (King Back) and Peter (Alex Moffat) whose primary purpose is just comedic relief, offer any temporary respite towards this apparently exhausting plotline. 

The creators for “Holidate” seemed to have the right idea, releasing a holiday-themed rom-com for the holiday season, but that’s where the positives for this film unfortunately end. Shallow characters, a draining plot, and a disappointing lack of romance and comedy all contribute to “Holidate” being a seasonal flop. 

Rating: D