It’s not even Halloween yet, but I have a holiday rom-com recommendation for you: Holidate on Netflix. (Look, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, so we can start the holidays early. It’s only fair.)
Granted, Holidate isn’t perfect—there are some food and body-shaming jokes that are a little cringe—but it will put you in the festive spirit by sheer brute force. And by that, I mean Kristin Chenoweth hooks up with a mall Santa within the first 15 minutes.
The Santa, you see, is Chenoweth’s character’s “holidate”: someone who agrees to go with you to holiday parties—ranging from Thanksgiving dinners to Fourth of July barbecues—so your pesky relatives won’t ask you about your personal life. That concept sounds ideal to Sloan (Emma Roberts), whose mother doesn’t care about her career accomplishments—just that she’s single. It also sounds appealing to Jack (Luke Bracey), a professional athlete bachelor who doesn’t want anything serious around the holidays…but he doesn’t want to be alone either. So they strike up a deal: They’ll be each other’s plus-ones for a St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl, Easter Sunday festivities, a Mother’s Day brunch—you get the idea. But of course, real feelings start to emerge—and with them, complications.
I won’t give away much else, though you can probably guess what happens. Holidate is gloriously formulaic. It has your slapstick moments (one involving a severed finger!), a laxative switch-up (oops), and a love-declaration scene featuring a full-ass choir. You know these tropes well and love them. They’re comforting—like watching home videos or drinking hot chocolate. Roberts has some insight as to why this is.
“I think people are loving holiday rom-coms because there’s a sense of nostalgia,” she tells Glamour. “I know, for me, it»s so comforting watching romantic comedies. I grew up on them, especially my aunt [Julia Roberts]’s movies, like My Best Friend’s Wedding and Notting Hill, which are so iconic. They just really make you feel good. We all want to feel good these days. We all want to believe in love and feel loved and celebrate each other and feel like there’s good news out there.”
But Holidate will surprise you. First and foremost, it’s raunchy AF. This may be the first time I’ve heard the words cum and cock used in a rom-com—not to mention thousands of F-bombs. At first I found the language jarring—I’m no prude, but this is called Holidate—but then I settled into the movie’s cheeky cadence and appreciated it.
Something else glorious about Holidate: I hated both these protagonists. Sloan and Jackson are both shallow, selfish, sarcastic, and downright rude at times—to each other, to their friends, to everyone. Is it weird I found that liberating? I’m not advocating being a monster, but so often rom-com characters—particular female ones—are idealized and unrealistic. To see characters on the complete other end of the pendulum was refreshing. It also added to the low-stakes fun of this movie; I didn’t really care how it ended, so I could drink my wine, chat with friends, and yell at the TV whenever something ridiculous happened. Isn’t that the ideal rom-com viewing scenario?
Netflix was one of the first modern platforms to really invest in the rom-com, and now its catalog of original titles is vast. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before! Set It Up! Someone Great! Holidate is a nice addition to its slate, though I can’t promise you’ll feel much watching it. It’s kind of like those weird Christmas cookies with the hardened jelly in the middle. You’ll enjoy it for what it is but maybe not think about it again until next Christmas—at which point you’ll gladly take another bite.
Holidate is now streaming on Netflix.
Originally Appeared on Glamour