Starring: Emma Roberts, Luke Bracey, Andrew Bachelor
Director: John Whitesell
Running Time: 104 mins
Holidate is an American film about a woman who’s always single on Christmas who decides to pair up with a man as her ‘holidate’, a person she gets together with on festive occasions throughout the year.
Holidate won’t be there on the top 100 best films of the century come 2099. In fact, it’s nowhere near the best films of 2020, but it doesn’t need to be. Playing on fluffy holiday classics to the full, the film is an enjoyable albeit extremely simple comedy, peppered with a blend of deliberately cheesy and often unnecessarily sappy romance.
As pleasant as it is, Holidate is a generally forgettable film, and hardly the best Christmas movie you’ll ever see. However, if there’s one thing about the movie that certainly isn’t forgettable, it’s the lead performances from Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey.
Returning to a fluffier genre where she impressed earlier in her career, Roberts is effortlessly likable throughout, even with an enjoyably cynical on-screen persona this time around. Bracey, meanwhile, starts the film off like some kind of discount Chris Hemsworth, but soon really finds his stride with a confident but cutesy and funny performance that’s not just a Hemsworth carbon copy.
Together, Roberts and Bracey work wonders, and manage to nicely tread the fine line between cheesy and predictable romance and a genuinely enjoyable and cynical take on romantic comedy and Christmas movie tropes. Their love story isn’t the most passionate you’ll ever see, but they’re a really lovable duo to watch all the way through the movie.
The dynamic between Roberts and Bracey is where a good deal of the laughs come from in this movie, in part because of their excellent chemistry, but also in part because of the general weakness of the film’s screenplay.
For the most part, Holidate knows exactly what it is, and doesn’t try to be any more intelligent or complex than it really needs to be. However, where the movie really falls down is in its attempts to subvert your expectations by poking fun at cheesy movie tropes. That element of the story works well in Roberts and Bracey’s will-they-won’t-they romance, but elsewhere, it feels really forced.
While mocking cheesy Christmas movies and romantic comedies for all of their most generic pitfalls, Holidate goes through with pretty much all of those same tropes, and doesn’t always show that it’s aware it’s falling into the same trap that it’s mocking.
That really hurts the movie’s often parodic humour, and also makes the comedy feel a little lazy and hypocritical, as Holidate rarely manages to follow through on the brand of humour it’s aiming to establish. Again, it’s a fluffy, easy-going Christmas movie on the surface, but it’s deeper down where Holidate really struggles. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 7.1 overall.