Luke Bracey and Emma Roberts star in a rom-com that is funny but also demeaning
Warning: There are spoilers in this review.
Directed by John Whiteshell, “Holidate” (released on Oct. 28, 2020) is a Netflix romantic comedy that follows the relationship of Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey). Previous heartbreaks cause both to struggle to find love again.
On one fateful Christmas day, Jackson and Sloane cross paths at the mall. Instantly arguing with each other over a store line, the two eventually start a deeper conversation about how frustrating it is to be single on the holidays. When they run into her Aunt Susan’s (Kristin Chenoweth) holidate, Sloane tells Jackson about how her aunt finds a guy to date every single holiday. Jackson proposes that he and Sloane be each other’s holidate so they don't have to be single on holidays anymore. Turning down the offer at first, Sloane later agrees when she runs into her ex-boyfriend with his new girlfriend on Valentine’s Day. The film then jumps from holiday to holiday, following Jackson and Sloane’s interactions. Like in any true rom-com, the situation doesn’t turn out exactly like they initially expected.
Despite the appealing romantic storyline, it's not possible to avoid the sexist dialogue. The writing feeds the stereotypes that society is trying to eliminate.
Before Jackson met Sloane, he broke up with his date on Christmas because “chicks go mental on holidays.” While at the gym, Jackson and his friend Neil (King Bach), start talking about the problems with girls. Neil says “they got these crazy eyes,” while Jackson criticizes girls for being “real.” Jackson further adds the reason friends with benefits never works is because “women are hardwired to attach and procreate.” Society often writes women off as emotional and clingy and this belief is emphasized in Jackson’s lines.
This film is not just misogynistic; it's also misandrist. When Jackson says that the clinginess of girls is the reason why friends with benefits never works, Sloane fires back with the argument that “men are hardwired to panic and flee.” Sloane explains to Jackson how men “can just dump us and move on.” As the film goes on you can see in many women's lines and men's actions the stereotype that men can’t be loyal or commit to one girl.
Throughout the film, Sloane’s mother, Elaine (Frances Fisher), dedicates much of her own energy to finding her daughter a partner or encouraging Sloane to make something out of her holidate situation with Jackson. The demoralizing message the film portrays here is that being single is a bad thing. The film makes it look like a person can't be happy unless they have a partner.
On the upside, the acting between the two main leads brought Sloan and Jackson’s relationship to life. Sloane’s emotion during her monologue at the end of the movie is incredibly touching. Jackson finally letting his feelings out in the grocery store on Thanksgiving gives the audience a warm feeling inside that causes immense happiness. Their joyful teary eyes, unbelievably realistic looks of happiness and saddening fight scenes go so far in explaining how talented these actors are.
Another bonus of this film is the humorous moments. The film creators went in the right direction when they included a remake of the last scene of “Dirty Dancing.” Jackson lifting Sloane over his head while the DJ played “The Time of My Life” is and will always be a magical moment, and the rib-tickling incident that happens immediately after is one of the major highlights of the movie.
Unfortunately, the comedy of this movie is not enough to make up for the disappointing film writing. The hard truth is that nothing about this film gets the viewer deliberating about it later on. This is the type of movie you watch once and forget.
“Holidate” is rated TV-MA for some inappropriate language and is now available to stream on Netflix.
Medhanit Desta. Hi! I'm Medhanit and I am a junior at Blair. Outside of SCO, I like to play sports and write. More »