Sunday 14 March 2021

Movie Review: Holidate (2020)

A standard romantic comedy, Holidate features a cute but familiar couple trapped in the genre's well-worn formula.

Sloane (Emma Roberts) is approaching her thirties and with her two siblings already hitched, she is feeling the pressure to find a partner. Her mother Elaine (Frances Fisher) is eager to help, but her lustful aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth) keeps herself busy with a series of oddball dates. 

After a disastrous Christmas family gathering, Sloane meets hunky and single Jackson (Luke Bracey) at a gift-return line-up. Both careful not to commit, she calls him a loser and he labels her unattractive. They nevertheless enjoy New Year's Eve together then agree to be each other's platonic dates on every holiday throughout the year. Feelings inevitably develop between them, but making the jump from a friendship of convenience to romantic partners will not be easy.

Despite no shortage of edge, attitude and raunchy humour, Holidate cannot escape being exactly what it struggles against: a generic romantic comedy. Sloane digs in her heels and says all the right things about enjoying the single life and resisting the societal pressure to pair-up just to conform to her family's expectations. But before long the film is all about contrived situations and featherweight obstacles placed in the way of couplehood, Sloane succumbing to exactly what she was railing against.

The Tiffany Paulsen script borrows heavily from sex-driven bawdy comedies, placing undue emphasis on drunkenness, foul language, body parts (including a severed digit) and laxatives triggering inopportune toilet escapades. Some of the episodes are funny, but director John Whitesell cannot overcome a sense of desperation to find any source of laughs to hide the sheer blandness of the material. The entire final third is a protracted will she or won't she commit rehash of trite cliches.

The flimsiness extends to character definitions. Sloane works from home and Jackson is a golf pro, but no one here appears to genuinely earn a living. Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey should both be better than the material, Roberts in particular carrying a sense of tired cynicism that applies to both her character and the project. The supporting cast is entertaining, Kristin Chenoweth fully invested as the colourful aunt seeking a succession of joyfully asymmetrical dates. Manish Dayal has fun as the doctor who shows up in odd places.

Holidate hops from one holiday to another over the course of a year, missing out on the reality where merriment is earned.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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