Friday, December 4, 2020

Adam and Alison Watch Christmas Movies: HOLIDATE

 by Adam Thas and Alison Thas

They're back for more holiday fun!

Alison: These days it seems everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit earlier than before. The people I follow on Instagram are proudly posting pictures of their fully decorated trees and sipping hot cocoa out of holiday mugs. Stockings were hung before it was even Thanksgiving! Embracing the Christmas spirit is more mainstream than ever before. Even Adam, who is staunchly against decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving, brought out the Christmas tree on November 13th without a peep.

So it comes as no surprise that more people seem to be watching Christmas movies than in years past. In my own experience, very few people would have watched, or even heard of, the holiday movies released that particular year. This is not the case, however, for our first movie of the holiday season, Holidate. Released on Netflix, Holidate stars Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey as two singletons tired of having to find the perfect date for holiday gatherings. They agree to be one another’s holiday date until the inevitable happens.
While I would not classify this as a typical Christmas movie, it is definitely charming and fun to watch. Holidate doesn’t stay confined to Christmas. The movie jumps from holiday to holiday throughout the year. Maybe it’s because we’ve been in quarantine for several months now, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching these two celebrate all the holidays together. Being out with other people, drinking, dancing, wearing themed outfits, and eating themed food…oh, the memories! In fact, I think the current events of 2020 helped make this movie more charming to me than it would have been if this was 2019. And while we don’t have the typical “girl from the big city meets boy from the small town” story line, the love story was almost as predictable and just as good.

Adam: Now venturing into a few of these holiday movies, you kind of start to get a feel for what to expect. None of these holiday movies ever feel like you’d be able to see them in a theater; they’re very formulaic and are made by people who know how to make something work without making it a disaster, but never knowing how to make it be great. So, it was very surprising to find a movie that I would classify as “good.” To be fair, I didn’t start out liking Holidate because I thought it was trying way too hard to be the anti-holiday movie. The very first scene of Holidate announces this by having Sloane (Emma Roberts) put out a cigarette on a plastic Santa and uttering the line “Fucking Christmas.” It’s not shy about its crassness and I found that the first few minutes are the most vulgar serving as a giant “warning” sign to any parent who thought this would be a nice family movie to watch with the kids. Try as it may to be an “anti-Holiday movie,” Holidate is still a Romantic Comedy and, of course, has the familiar checklist to prove it. Sloane just went through a rough break up and has commitment issues when she meets Jackson, (Luke Bracey) who doesn’t want commitment. The two of them become friends and decide to be each other’s date to various Holidays so they don’t need to worry about finding dates. Sounds simple enough -- a bit corny, but after seeing Failure to Launch, pretty much any RomCom plot makes sense.
Holidate is good enough at the beginning that I was willing to give it a chance and then very slowly it started to grow on me. They very obviously hit up stereotypes from each holiday to give you a clear sense of where the movie timeline is; some, while not directly obvious, are pretty funny (the opening scene for “Easter” is pretty hilarious). Like any RomCom worth a watch, I found myself enjoying the time I got to spend with the characters and started to root for them to figure things out. It’s unique in that there is a large portion of the movie where the two main characters are just friends and are completely happy being friends. Sloane and Jackson found a system that works for them and they enjoy it. But just as the movie and characters started to build for me there came the “Uh-Oh” moment (I’ll do my best to describe this spoiler free). By “Uh-Oh” moment, I mean that moment in a movie where you see a scene coming and you think to yourself “Please don’t go there, because then I’ll need to hate you.” It’s the movie equivalent of being on a date and having a blast and then your date starts telling you how the moon landing was staged.

There is a point in Holidate where they are about to pull a “Bridesmaids.” Every camera shot, every line of dialogue is moving to the point where you think you know where it’s going and just when it’s about to go there, it stops. Rather than getting a cheap gross-out scene, it deals with things the way they should be dealt with and leads to what may be my favorite scene in any movie I’ve seen in a while. I don’t want to spoil it, but this dread I felt in where the movie was going ended up going to a very sweet, real place where two people act like real people would. These two characters that we’ve been spending an hour getting to know act exactly how they should toward each other. That’s a movie first for me. I’ve never had that experience where a scene started to look like the worst thing about it, and ended up being the reason I loved it.
It would be inaccurate to say that Holidate is a great movie, and it does have problems, mostly from its contrived subplots that don’t seem to be necessary or really go anywhere. It also should be said that while it does start and end during Christmas, it’s not really a Christmas movie and likely leans more into the “RomCom” lane of movie genres. Holidate is very aware of what a “Holiday RomCom” is and the tropes that go along with it, and aggressively tries to be the “anti” version of those genres. It’s a difficult thing to do in movies to try and be the “anti” version of the thing you are without having the movie be about that one note. If you are a fan of romantic comedies or holiday movies you’re likely going to enjoy Holidate, because while it may spend most of its runtime trying to subvert the genre, it ends up being a pretty good example of it.


There are hundreds of these movies and navigating through them all is impossible. So, to help you out with these, we’ve compiled a list of the ones we’ve reviewed/watched so far from our favorites to least favorite. 
Adam’s List:
1) Holidate (2020, Netflix)
2) Holiday Calendar (2018, Netflix)
3) Snowed Inn (2017, Hallmark)
4) The Knight Before Christmas (2019, Netflix)
5) Holiday in the Wild (2019, Netflix)
6) Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe (2018, Hallmark)

Alison’s List:
1) Holiday Calendar (2018, Netflix)
2) Holidate (2020, Netflix)
3) The Knight Before Christmas (2019, Netflix)
4) Pride, Prejudice, and Mistletoe (2018, Hallmark)
5) Snowed Inn (2017, Hallmark)
6) Holiday in the Wild (2019, Netflix)

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