It’s after Halloween, and according to some people, it’s practically Christmas. Which is how I found myself on Friday night, pressing play on Netflix’s new holiday movie, Holidate. For those who don’t know me, shitting on holiday movies is kind of my thing. I’ve done it with The Princess Switch (and don’t worry, barring a civil war I’ll be back for Princess Switch 2), and The Holiday. There’s just something about the premise that one can find love over the holidays that really gets me going in a bad way. Probably because the holidays are usually the time when (for casual daters) you are actually most likely to get ghosted or dumped. It’s just unrealistic, and yes I am bitter. So I thought I would give an honest recap of Holidate. Let’s go.
We open with Emma Roberts smoking a cigarette, muttering “fucking holidays” (relatable), and putting out said cigarette on a plastic Santa statue. She’s shown up to Christmas dinner in a red hoodie and pigtails, to which her mom remarks “can’t you put on a dress?”. My family doesn’t even change out of sweatpants for holidays hosted in our own home, so no.
We learn Emma broke up with a suitor six months ago, and her mom and aunt are already hounding her about how it’s time to “get back out there.” Yeah, my last relationship ended five years ago, so. Yeah. I would not do well with these people.
More realistically, Emma’s mom thinks her working remotely means she sits around the house all day in sweatpants. That’s also what my mom thinks I do for a living. She is not wrong.
Equally overbearing are Emma’s brother and his girlfriend: the former remarks “it’s not a holiday unless my sister shows up alone.” And I’ve got to wonder what weird pressure this family places on having significant others, and what kind of trauma led them all to derive their self-worth from their relationship status…
It’s two minutes in and I’m already wayyy overthinking this movie.
And then we see Kristin Chenoweth as the drunk aunt roll up with some random Mall Santa, and it all makes sense. She explains to Emma that she’s not really into this guy, it’s just a “holidate”: “you know, someone you bring home for the holidays.” And thus, the premise of the movie is born.
Over on the other side of Chicago, we have Jackson, some hot guy who kind of looks like a lost Hemsworth brother, getting introduced to a couple that’s basically the Flanderses in the flesh. These people live and breathe Christmas and put their decorations up before Halloween, you can just tell. Jackson is clearly just fucking the poor girl who brought him home for Christmas to meet her parents. And they say I’m sabotaging by having guys meet my friends on the second date.
And back at Emma Roberts’ house, even her 6-year-old cousin has a boyfriend in kindergarten who brings her juice boxes. Everyone is taken but me, it seems! At least I’m in good company with Emma Roberts. This first grader asks Emma why she didn’t bring anyone, either. What is wrong with this family?? This is not the type of attachment style you should be modeling to your children!
And it appears Jackson has fallen into the classic male trap of believing a girl when she says we’re not doing presents that year. This girl is basically just Isla Fisher’s character in the Wedding Crashers because she says, in front of her parents, “oh, so you know me well enough to come in my mouth but not get me a Christmas present?” I cringed into myself.
And back at Emma’s, the brother proposes to his girlfriend of three months. (Honestly, I’ve seen crazier shit in quarantine.) Instead of saying “congratulations!” this family’s first response is “two down, one to go!”
So that’s the universe we’re working with: two cynics who are equal yet opposite products of their insane environments.
Emma and our bootleg Hemsworth meet at a store, where Jackson is returning a pair of pants, taking forever, and Emma is returning plaid pajamas — both Christmas presents gone wrong. The store is only offering store credit, so the two of them end up bargaining with the girl in line behind them, who pays in cash for a bunch of off-season items with no retail value. I have never once spoken to a person in line in front of or behind me, let alone played “let’s make a deal”.
This is all happening at the mall (tbt to malls), and who do we see at the mall? The Santa holidate. A lightbulb goes off in Jackson’s head: he needs a holidate for New Year’s Eve because he’s “sick of casually dating” because he’s “always the asshole.” Meanwhile, Emma needs one because her family is really fucking annoying.
Okay, as a single woman living in NYC, only one of these problems is actually real, and it’s obviously not “woe is me, I don’t want to casually date, not because I want a relationship, but because I’m sick of dumping women left and right when they get too attached!” Fuck all the way off with your Gretchen Weiners bullshit.
So they make a pact to be each other’s Holidate for New Year’s Eve. Already this movie has lost me, because NYE is not a family-oriented affair. In fact, it’s kind of a single’s holiday. I feel like most of the NYE marketing is geared towards people cramming in an overpriced club with the hopes of drunkenly making out with a stranger on midnight. This movie should have started at Thanksgiving, then it would kind of make sense.
It’s at this point, 13 minutes in, that we learn Emma Roberts’ character’s name is Sloane. Eh, I’m gonna call her Emma.
The NYE party actually looks fun. Hemsworth makes a point to tell Emma that her tits look phenomenal in her dress, and she loves the way the dress hugs her ass. He’s like, “this is perfect because I can be a total chauvinistic douchebag without worrying you’ll get mad” and Emma is like “and I can wear this dress without worrying I’m gonna get slut-shamed.” Again, only one of these problems is real. Instead of being worried that women won’t respond well to you being a sexist asshole, you could try just… not being a sexist asshole.
Oh, and now we’ve made it to the “let’s shit talk rom-coms as we star in a rom-com, how edgy and meta are we” portion of the movie. They bond over how hot Ryan Gosling is and how no woman would ever pass up the chance to be with him — which they think makes them contrarian and cool but I’m pretty sure is the entire plot of The Notebook?
In the bathroom, Emma runs into a group of crying girls (also relatable). The one in white is sobbing because something (red wine?) got spilled on her white dress and it looks like a full-on crime scene. This woman is sobbing because she knows her fiancé is about to propose, but he won’t do that now that her dress is ruined (what?) and “my dream was to be proposed to on New Year’s Eve.” Like, why? You have to share your anniversary date with the Earth? Get a better dream.
After Emma switches dresses with Carrie over there, she goes on the dance floor with Jackson, where “I Had The Time Of My Life” suddenly plays. Miraculously, this packed dance floor parts like the red sea so they can do the Dirty Dancing lift. Like, ok. Club crowds don’t even move out of the way for medics, but sure, they’ll make way for two random people to do a choreographed dance.
We end the night with Jackson giving Emma a chaste kiss on the cheek, and she could not look more repulsed. Ugh, hot people problems. The whole premise thus far is that these two are not attracted to each other — and in fact, that they are sort of disgusted by each other — which is patently ridiculous. They are two objectively attractive people. Like, even if Ryan Gosling isn’t your cup of tea, you can’t call the man ugly.
Cut to: Valentine’s Day, where Emma doesn’t have a date and everyone else in her family is in disbelief. Again.
At the mall (why does this whole movie take place at the mall), Emma runs into her ex, who is obnoxiously hipster and also French. Ew. He’s basically dating a slightly different-looking variation of Emma Roberts, who they try to pass off as a much younger version but you can tell is basically the same age.
Jackson (who also happens to be at the mall, because nobody else has anywhere better to be in all of Chicago) spots this scene and comes to the rescue, and pretends to be Emma’s bf.
As a thank you for this heroic feat, she gives him a hand job in the mall parking lot. So, that’s Valentine’s Day. Actually looked a lot like mine, minus the mall.
So the next holidate is St. Patrick’s Day — ah, yes, the extremely couples-focused holiday of St. Patrick’s Day. Yes, I know firsthand how difficult it is to be single on this day, whose main focus (in the U.S., don’t come for me) is to get wasted off beer. Yes, this of all days is the one I feel most alone.
Emma’s whole family shows up to the bar to once again berate her for being single in between chugs of beer. Reason #24235 this family is fucked up. We learn that Emma’s brother knows Jackson because he’s been taking golf lessons from him for a year (Jackson is allegedly a “golf pro” for a living, whatever that means, though we never see him golf).
Cut to: Easter, which Emma’s mom has used as another occasion to try to set her daughter up. This time, with their new neighbor (who is also a doctor). But mom, I already told you I’m here with my platonic hot fake date!!! Eh, I’ve had my mom try to set me up with worse people. Kristin Chenoweth shows up dressed like a Playboy bunny. And suddenly, I have an answer to the question, “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”
So now we get to the trauma portion: Apparently Jackson got his heart broken once and that’s why he is the way he is (eye roll). He dated a girl who pretended to like a lot of his hobbies and then one day she completely ghosted and moved out. I honestly don’t feel like we’re getting the whole story here. Like sure, he thinks she up and left out of the blue one day, but if you asked her I bet she’d be like “yeah he was more into his reflection than me and never hung out with me on the weekends because he was always playing golf and every time I brought it up he shrugged it off and my name wasn’t on the lease of the apartment so I just bounced.”
The next holidate is Cinco de Mayo. Again, you don’t have dates for this holiday. You have drinking buddies.
After many tequila shots, Emma wakes up on Jackson’s floor in just her bra and underwear. Finally, realistic representation in Hollywood. She’s wearing his underwear, which in no way makes sense because she’s two pounds and he’s a whole man with hips. In any case, neither of them can remember if they hooked up.
Next up is Mother’s Day, and this family has a whole fucking Parisian inspired brunch like we’re in that one scene from Bridesmaids. This family does way too much. What do these people do for a living?
Fourth of July time! I understand that if these holidates only happened on the actual holidays that required dates, then Emma and Jackson would be fake-dating for like, six years, but come on. Also, why don’t these people have any actual friends? Jackson has literally one friend, and Emma has zero, evidenced by the fact that she spends all drinking-focused holidays with her family.
Meanwhile, Kristin Chenoweth’s dates keep getting more and more gross because she has some insane rule about only using her holidates one time. At that rate, pyramid schemes have taken a longer time to collapse.
Jackson blows his finger off while setting off fireworks, and everyone else is too wasted to drive to the hospital, so Emma is charged with driving him. I’ve seen characters in Simpsons Road Rage drive better than this bitch, who treats other cars, trees, etc. as if they are parts in a pinball machine. When they somehow make it to the hospital room in one piece, she smokes a joint in the hospital room and they miraculously doesn’t get kicked out.
And guess who’s the doctor charged with reattaching the finger? The neighbor, who is a doctor! Sloane is high so Hot Doctor thinks she’s hitting on him. Guess he has no sense of smell. He also looks like he’s 18. No way this guy went through med school.
Back at home with his finger intact again, Jackson’s like “thanks for taking care of me” and Emma is like “holidate rule #3: leave no date behind.” As far as we know there has been no rule 1 or 2.
I guess it was something about the thrill of almost losing a digit and getting really high and making finger puns that made these two realize they love each other.
Jackson is going to be a Holidate for the brother’s wedding, which conveniently falls on Labor Day. So apparently Jackson scored his own independent invite, and this big idiot is like, “so we’ll both bring our own dates, right?”
Cut to the wedding, where the groom is giving a speech? Don’t feel like that’s a thing. Emma brought Hot Doctor and Jackson brought Kristin Chenoweth, and I’m not sure why she wasn’t already invited given she’s like, their aunt, right? Even weirder, Sloane appears to be jealous of her cracked-out aunt, because when she looks over mid-reception, Kristin is fellating Jackson’s finger (yea that finger). In any normal universe, that scene would provoke revulsion and not jealousy. But ok.
At the bar, they get into a fight because Sloane brought a date and Jackson might f*ck Sloane’s crazy aunt. One of these things is not like the other. In a huff, they call off the holidate arrangement. Then, the bride dances with her dad to “I’ll Make Love To You.” Yikes. I thought this was set in Chicago, not Alabama.
Cut to, crazy aunt grinding on the Hot Doctor. In a spinning accident gone wrong (yea I know), Kristen falls and sprains her ankle, so Hot Doctor rushes to her rescue and whisks her away. Meaning the Holidate arrangement is back on! And this time, it’s Halloween. This is a stretch, but given that couples costumes are very much a thing, it’s a lot more believable than shoehorning in St. Patrick’s Day.
Turns out Sloane’s ex is invited to this party with his girlfriend in tow, and she’s 9 months pregnant. She’s at a party because she’s like, “I told you, this baby isn’t going to change our lives!” This is honestly just one of many plot points that did not need to make it into the final cut.
This realization for some reason has broken Emma, who realizes that her ex and his gf conceived on Valentine’s Day, but she herself didn’t even have sex on Valentine’s Day. Very weird comparison, considering two of these people are in a relationship, where sex is mostly guaranteed, and one is single. She’s beside herself crying over how embarrassing it is for her — but like, I fail to see how this reflects poorly on her. If anything she dodged a bullet by not getting knocked up by this French douchebag? Feels like we’re at a point in the script writing process where the writers just got drunk and thought all their ideas were genius.
Also somehow somebody spiked Emma’s drinks with laxatives, which causes her to race to the bathroom. Again, I do feel like this is another plotline that could have been removed in editing because it makes no fucking sense, but at least we get a sweet moment where, after Emma has shat her brains out, Jackson helps her shower. Right, because if a guy didn’t think you were hot on NYE when you were in your best “fuck me” dress, he’s really going to think you’re hot after he’s washed your own sh*t off you. Now I know what I’ve been doing wrong! From now on, all my dates are going to take place at Taco Bell.
DOUBLY SO because the next morning is when Emma and Jackson finally bang. Cool, the Chipotle workers are going to LOVE me.
These psychopaths wake up the next morning feet to head, not sleeping side-by-side. Anyone else notice that??
The next morning, Sloane’s sister is knocking furiously because she kissed Jackson’s friend (who I have failed to really mention until this point because he honestly served no purpose other than the occasional sassy one-liner). Anyway, the sister is distraught because she is married with kids.
So then it becomes this weird scene where the sister and Jackson are both like, “I should go… no I should go…”
And it ends with Emma being like “no Jackson, you should go.” Now, this has Jackson fucked up because he has never in his life not been pressured by a girl to have brunch the morning after they have sex. Omg your life must be sooooo hard with women getting attached to you left and right!
Just as out of his fucking mind is the friend, who’s insisting he and the sister (whose name I am just now learning is Abby) “had a connection”. All this movie is teaching me is that the secret to getting hot guys to like me is to openly reject them a few times and make them question their self-worth.
We’re back to Thanksgiving, and Kristin Chenoweth did not bring Hot Doctor because she’s a “one and done” type bitch. Honestly, I respect it.
Emma has to run out to get some shit because her mom burned Thanksgiving dinner. She and Jackson are in the grocery store (why do these two do everything in a fucking store) when Jackson full-on confesses his love for Emma. And she DGAF! What the actual fuck is this movie.
Jackson: You’re trying so hard not to feel anything that you’re an asshole.
And now we’ve come obnoxiously full-circle, with Jackson doing a full recall about their whole little quip about Ryan Gosling that they had on New Year’s Eve that isn’t even that good of a metaphor to begin with.
Back at the house, the table is suddenly split in two? I feel like Tim Gunn because I’m yelling at my TV for these people to EDIT.
Well, this is a shit show. Emma’s sister shits on her for her personal life always being a mess (wouldn’t be a mess if y’all weren’t so weirdly up in her business about it, but ok). Emma blurts out that at least she didn’t kiss the Black Panther (Jackson’s friend). The husband overhears because he’s walked in right at that moment, and Kristin Chenoweth’s holidate has a heart attack.
And GUESS WHO is the attending physician for this heart attack? That’s right, hot doctor! Apparently, there is only one doctor in all of Chicago!
In any case, Kristin Chenoweth apologizes to Hot Doctor and says she just got scared, and confesses her love for him. He says I love you back, and they make out in the waiting room. Of the ER. Excuse me, this man is the only ER physician in all of Chicago, his time is precious! This is not the time for this!
Christmas time again, and we’re — you guessed it — back at the mall! Where all the girls of the family are shopping, and who’s there? Obviously, Jackson! Because there are no other stores in the entire city. Yeah. They should have set this movie in like, Milwaukee. Then it would have been understandable.
Anyway, Emma’s family turns to her and is basically like, “go get him” so she chases him through the crowded mall. She ends up on stage with a gospel choir (can’t even get into that), and after the choir sings JACKSONNNN to get his attention, the whole mall falls silent. Sure, just like the whole dance floor would part on NYE for two randos to have a dance routine. I’ll take “things that would never happen” for $1,000, Alex.
Emma grabs the mic and confesses her feelings and says she — say it with me now — messed it up because she was scared.
This speech feels less of a love confession and more of a custody agreement: I want you on all holidays, and weekends! And weekdays too! And nights!
After a fake-out (you slick bastard), Jackson obviously rushes to her and they make out in the mall. And all is well! And everything is great! The end.
So what I’ve learned from this movie is:
- I am truly blessed that my dad only asks why I’m single every few months
- Men will fall in love with you if you ignore them (tbh this tracks with what I’ve experienced so far)
- The best way to get a date is to lose your shit (literally)
- It’s a good idea to get marry someone you’ve only known for three months (seriously, I couldn’t believe that this subplot with the brother didn’t end in divorce considering the writers spent half the movie underscoring how little these two knew each other… but again, ok)
Overall, I actually didn’t hate this movie. It was stupid, but it was obviously supposed to be stupid. Could it have been about a half hour shorter? Yes. Did any of it make sense? Like, some of it, but not all. But it was entertaining and didn’t take itself too seriously, and that’s all I can really ask for in a rom-com anyway. I’m not here to learn groundbreaking truths about the power of love — I’d much prefer a hand job in a mall parking lot. With that said, I am now accepting applications for my 2020 holiday date. Happy holidays!