Something about cheesy holiday romantic comedies is so reassuring. Bundled up in a cozy blanket with a mug of hot chocolate, you know that the movie will have a happy ending, and you know that there’s nothing to worry about. It’ll make you laugh and it’ll make you cry. You can always trust those cheesy rom-coms to never let you down.
But “Holidate,” unfortunately, is a different story.
Though advertised as a traditional seasonal rom-com, the film isn’t exactly that. The plot, in general, isn’t really the problem. “Holidate” follows a version of the fake-date trope by having Sloane (Emma Roberts, “Nancy Drew”) and Jackson (Luke Bracey, “Point Break”) use each other as ‘holidates,’ — go-to dates for the holidays so as not to look pathetic in the eyes of family members or find themselves in awkward holiday situations.
The film starts off with the two characters meeting just after Christmas and going on their first holidate on New Year’s Eve. It continues hopping to various holidays in the following year. From the obnoxious pinks of a candy store on Valentine’s Day, to neon green wigs in a bar on St. Patrick’s Day, to red, white and blue fireworks on the Fourth of July, to pirate costumes on Halloween and finally to the next year’s Christmas, viewers will see Sloane and Jackson’s relationship grow and change.
But since they are boring, unoriginal characters, their relationship won’t interest the audience much, if at all. Sloane’s storyline of having just gotten out of a bad relationship, while her ex-boyfriend is now with someone much more attractive than she is, is one that is so frustratingly overdone and frankly demeans her character to something anti-feminist and pathetic. Jackson’s character is the exact same as every other man in every other rom-com, because he finds himself falling in love with her despite her pushing him away. There’s nothing original here.
The real problem with the film is how the creators tried to make it different from other feel-good holiday rom-coms. Had they stuck with the fake-date trope and kept the storyline sweet, this movie would have been just as good (or bad, depending on your perspective) as any other holiday movie. Alas, they used every available opportunity to make the film vulgar and disturbing. There were scenes where the characters swore just to have them swear and raise the film’s rating, dirty jokes that were cruder than they were funny and awkward scenes that leave the audience cringing. For some reason, a shocking number of these “jokes” are related to cancer, which is more than a little terrible. Any laughter that will result from this movie will be pained, cringing laughter that the audience cannot hold back. It’s like watching a car accident in slow motion: so horrific that you just can’t turn away.
The actors have potential, but the script and storyline leave so much to be desired. The whole movie plays as forced and trashy when it could be sweet and romantic. The 103 minutes of the film feel like they go on forever, and when the credits finally roll, the audience will surely sigh in relief, knowing that they can forever leave this movie in the past.
Daily Arts Writer Sabriya Imami can be reached at email@example.com.