‘Holidate’ Review: An Unlikely Date, an Unexpected Outcome
There is something about this rom-com that just can’t be quantified
By The Film Addict
Editor’s note: The readers’ response to our first movie review was overwhelmingly positive, so we’re making reviews a regular feature of Storius Direct. We’ll be covering a variety of genres and, in addition to recent releases, occasionally feature films that have been out there for a while.
“Discover Holidate. An online platform for singles around the world to virtually date each other on holidays. It’s fun! It’s safe, and it totally complies with the decade-long lockdown that the world is going through. Download now.” Sounds like a solid copy for an app getting launched in 2025. Beer festivals. New Year Eve parties. Those things you see in the movie, Holidate? They all seem to be increasingly distant from reality now.
Holidate (the movie) is about Sloane (Emma Roberts), a young, single lady just a little south of her big 30, who is constantly subjected to attempted match-makes by her desperate mother (Frances Fisher). Like all great mothers do, she fears that Sloane’s climbing age and reluctance to date will diminish her valuation in the ‘dating market’. After getting nudged by her mother and relatives about her love life in a holiday event, Sloane strikes a pact with a bloke, Jackson (Luke Bracey) to fulfill each other’s holidays, assuring themselves that they don’t share romantic interests. Coincidentally, Jackson is getting tired of casually dating just for the holidays and feeling pressured to commit.
So there it is. The stage is set up. Which initially did not sound too exciting to me, because to be frank, I am not a fan of romantic comedies. Why did I end up watching Holidate? Similar to how I ended up at the corner of the parking lot after a wild night of partying during my foolish days, I had very little idea. But hey, at least I remember watching the film and do not need someone else (read: party mates) to tell me what I did. “What’s in it for me?”, I thought to myself. Unlike grittier films like Rebecca, romcoms always end with an overwhelmingly positive note, and I could already picture what the ending would look like even before the duo knew each other’s names.
That’s not to say that Holidate kicked-off poorly. In fact, it didn’t. Naturally, things were a little flavorless at first, even more so given that Holidate is my first exposure towards the stars portraying the leading duo — I had no idea how Emma-Roberts-the-nephew-of-Julia (I kid you not) and Bracey would sound, or act like. That said, there are still plenty of laugh-worthy moments tucked within the early hours of Holidate’s itinerary to let the audience soak-in and familiarize with the characters.
On a side note, however, Holidate still shows some reliance on commonly used trick cards of romcoms, but I am totally fine with it because neither of those scenes look forced or wooden. Granted, you have to forgive Holidate a couple of times for tampering with the logical rule of possibility though. Because at times, things can happen and leave you flabbergasted in a way that you wonder, “What are the chances of this and that happen at this exact moment of time?”.
Besides, the movie has a tendency to transport itself through time in a way that goes linearly with the viewing time that the audience invests themselves in, but at a much faster pace. If you refer back to the movie’s defining line of ‘holidate’, which says “a date just for the holidays, no commitment” — you can somehow see it coming that the days between the holidays are prone to underutilization. Which, in this case, are almost completely forgotten. This has nothing to do with it being a good or a bad thing, but it can come across as a unique-but-weird format of Holidate’s plot, which is rather crucial in order to establish the timespan that Holidate takes to reach its final conclusion.
Once you have sorted that out, the remaining experience should turn out to be buttery smooth, or sweet, even. This is not going to be a technical review of Holidate per se, because there are no technical aspects of Holidate to marvel or scoff at. You can’t really find any award-winning cinematography or crazy color palette wherever you look in Holidate, but everything works well and fine on screen. There is just something about Holidate that can’t be quantified.
That ‘something’ kept on hitting my head the moment Sloane and Jackson started to share their screen time together. And it wasn’t my wife, though I truly believe that she will if she ever finds out how much time I have been spending on movies lately. That aside, I believe that the ‘something’ is often referred to as execution.
It is pretty weird to look back at how the film had entertained me so well with a plot that I had literally figured out earlier just by hooking up the trailer. My best explanation is that Holidate packs most of its appeal within ‘how it happens on-screen’, rather than ‘what will happen next’. Everything unfolds in such a natural, spontaneous and charming way, that it was effortless for me to glide through the frames, and never at once breaking away from Holidate’s love spell. Scenes like this simply redefine Holidate in the same way that the accidental collision of George MacKay’s final run redefined 1917 (2019).
Oddly, though the looks, the style, and the character of both Jackson and Sloane don’t change that much throughout the film, I don’t even have the slightest hint of dissatisfaction towards the character development or whatsoever. Nothing appears too ‘flat’ or ‘manufactured’ to me, even after witnessing Sloane with virtually one type of make-up throughout the film, or how Jackson kept his hair in place 99% of the time.
Perhaps I have come to terms with the fact that couples in romcoms wake up with flawless make-up and hair, ready for a professional photoshoot even though they had a rough game the night before. It’s alright. At least this couple is one that is so likeable, charming, and feels awkwardly familiar.
Like I have mentioned, Holidate is the first time that I have seen Roberts and Bracey on the screen (or any screen for that matter), but I feel like I have already seen a trilogy of their romcoms before, so they appear to me more like long-lost, highschool friends actually holidating each other rather than some strangers on the screen waiting for their paychecks. Which makes me a little biased towards Holidate. Or maybe not.
Holidate is like meeting that high school crush of yours whom you have lost touch with. Except that:
You have never seen him/her for 10 years
You have grown over your love life and trained yourself to be single like a Spartan warrior
You feel that bumping into your crush is awkward and pointless.
Then you learn that your crush is single, and that he/she might have feelings for you all the while — The Film Addict
Jeff is the founding member of The Film Addict, where he shares his views and analysis on the latest Hollywood movies and film industry news that matters.