Peer pressure about a lack of romance in his or her child’s life can be quite a slog. How many times have your companionship concerns been cut short by your son or daughter saying, “Could we not talk about this all the time?” Tired of her mother constantly questioning her about her love life (rather the lack of it) Sloane (Emma Roberts) asks a stranger if he would like to be her date to placate mom during every seasonal holiday festival: you know, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, etc etc.
Jackson (Luke Bracey) at a loose end himself as far as his love life is concerned, agrees. From this point, Holidate (your date during a holiday) becomes a predictable but pleasant seesaw of seasonal celebrations with our protagonists pretending to be in love with their family and then pretending to one another about not being in love. It’s not half as complicated as it sounds. But the going-ons avoids getting trite and sleazy by maintaining a smart veneer and a modicum of intelligence even within the formulistic framework.
The lead, though not quite your Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in The Proposal possess some charm and Emma Roberts displays a gift for saying rude obnoxious lines inoffensively. She is quite an attention-getter.
The problem with a lightweight rom-com like this is that it runs out of steam long before the end. Everyone knows which way the relationship is heading. So it’s just one-holiday date being piled on top of another with Sloane’s sister and mother providing the karmic relief. In-between there is an unfortunate episode where Jackson loses a finger during a holiday and must be rushed to the hospital. There follows a string of ‘finger’ jokes which are neither funny nor do they take the plot forward.
Oh, there is a Pakistani doctor Farooq (played by Manish Dayal who as a teenager gave a rousing performance alongside Om Puri in The Hundred-Foot Journey). Farooq falls for an aunt (Kristin Chenoweth). I suppose they love happily ever after. But what about Jackson and Sloane? Do they find eternal love, or continue to date each other through all the festive seasons in the next calendar year, and the one after that, and so on.
This game of musical ‘cheers’ is fun while it lasts. But don’t expect any kind of statement from the central liaison except that when you are luckless in love, hire it.
Directed by John Whitsell, Holidate gets 2 and a half stars!
Image source: Netflix
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