The whitewashed romantic comedy “Holidate,” now streaming on Netflix, doesn’t come close to reaching the top of the romantic comedy peak. It’s filled with dated stereotypes and predictable clichés, yet it’s somehow not only watchable, but actually enjoyable to boot. The film’s quirky premise feels original and isn’t overly cutesy.
Fed up with being single and date-less on all the major holidays, strangers Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) agree to be each other’s platonic plus-ones all year long. This no-strings-attached arrangement begins on New Year’s Eve and continues until Christmas, and it doesn’t take long for their feelings to grow into something more serious.
As with most rom-coms, the outcome is predictable from the get-go. The set-up is contrived (a meet-cute over an unwanted set of khaki pants) and the characters are stereotypical (like Sloane’s excessively pushy, overbearing mother (Frances Fisher) who is trying to help her daughter to find a man and settle down, her sex-crazed Aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth), or Jackson’s “black friend” (Andrew Bachelor) Neil), but the cute chemistry between Roberts and Bracey is enjoyable, and the slightly raunchy jokes give the film a bit of welcome edginess.
Roberts is the MVP here, her cynical delivery serves the material well. She’s a natural when it comes to creating likeable “real girl” characters, and she makes Sloane easily relatable. Bracey is more off-putting, which makes their eventual coupling feel a tad forced and inauthentic, but I found myself rooting for the two of them to just get together already! around Cinco de Mayo. (If a one-holiday rom-com isn’t enough to satisfy, this film is a real holidaypalooza, as it covers an entire year’s worth of celebrations from Valentine’s Day to Thanksgiving and everything in between).
“Holidate” is far from a perfect movie, but it’s a close to ideal distraction for a winter night at home, snuggled on the sofa in pajamas with a glass of Chardonnay in hand.