Holidate: A New Generation of Christmas Movies

Image courtesy of Netflix

By Kat Kaderabek

Trending at #1 for holiday movies this week is Netflix’s Holidate, which stars Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey. The film centers around a pair of emotionally detached strangers who agree to be each other’s mutual dates for all holidays in an effort to subdue overbearing family members and crazy ex-girlfriends. On the surface, Holidate gives the pretense of that beloved Hallmark Christmas movie wonder; however, this film is surely a new breed of Christmas movie that, while romantic, has a more cynical, raunchy take on the holiday season.

Audiences see Roberts and Bracey cycle through the holidays together in a seemingly perfect situation: the two are allowed to focus on themselves and their careers during their every-day lives and only on each holiday do they meet to spend the day together. What could possibly go wrong? 

This movie is certainly not a family Christmas movie, but rather the perfect film to watch with a group of friends. It maintains that feel-good atmosphere while also portraying an element of relatability to those who are single for the holidays and the emotions that entails. In terms of its more explicit or raunchy scenes, they come off as hilarious and certainly invoke that second-hand embarrassment feeling. 

Emma Roberts and co-star Luke Bracey give an entertaining performance, and their chemistry – or lack thereof – is very believable in terms of the plot line. The pair are phenomenal in convincing the audience of their lack of interest in one another, which makes watching them fall for each other that more endearing. 

Despite their excellent performances, the plot of the movie is incredibly predictable and dry. While some of the jokes are fresh, the audience knows what will happen at the end of the film which is why this can be classified as an off-brand Hallmark movie. There is little point to the film other than its hour-and-a-half long entertainment value; it is perfect to throw on casually, not to invest oneself in. 

Other reviews of Holidate have not been kind to Netflix’s film. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a mere 48% with an Audience Score of 46%. Other reviews of the movie have also critiqued the predictable plot and bawdy content.

Holidate does not have a single authentic moment, appealing character, or genuine laugh. It’s a would-be romantic comedy with neither romance nor comedy, an excruciating onslaught of unremittingly dull incidents slogging its way toward an utterly predictable conclusion,” wrote Nell Minow

Hollywoodreporter writer Robyn Bahr does point out the refreshing perspective of Robert’s character Sloane. 

She calls her “a refreshingly mordant rom-com protagonist. She smokes cigarettes and hoovers candy. She’s unabashedly raunchy. She sneers at feminine expectations.” 

In this way, the film breaks away from the Hallmark movie expectations of female protagonists. Instead, Holidate portrays a more relatable female character objectified by the holiday standards for women in their twenties. Roberts’ character is constantly eating, brazenly cursing, and flaunting her single status proudly – except when the holiday season hits. While her cursing and eating habits are uncurbed, the daunting expectations of her family and her ex-boyfriend make having a holidate the perfect solution to their nagging. 

Holidate is a more low-brow Christmas movie geared towards those in their twenties that provides an entertaining, feel-good watch that leaves audiences laughing and questioning whether they should find themselves their own “holidate.” Of course, it might be difficult to come across a tall, single Australian walking about in the mall. 

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