28 October 2020 14:35

Emma Roberts stars as Sloane in Netflix's new rom-com Holidate, alongside Luke Bracey, who plays love interest Jackson.

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Holidate is a fizzling start to Netflix’s holiday movie season

The new Netflix movie Holidate establishes some all-important vocabulary: A "holidate" is someone to spend any given holiday with, explicitly for the purpose of not being alone and preventing your family members from trying to set you up with someone else. If anything, it's closer to a rental-family service, except it's a mutually beneficial arrangement rather than something that's paid for. But while having a "holidate" is a fun idea, John Whitesell's Holidate isn't the kind of movie to bring home for the holidays. Sloane (Emma Roberts) and Jackson (Luke Bracey) both hate the holidays. Sloane's family won't stop trying to introduce her to new men.

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Jackson, meanwhile, doesn't have any family in the States, and finds meeting new people over the holidays stressful. When the two of them meet while trying to return gifts at the same store, they immediately bond over their mutual distaste for holidays, and land upon the solution of "holidates," inspired by Sloane's aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth), who always brings flings to family events. Early on in the film, Sloane even bemoans rom-coms that pretend that the leads won't eventually get together. The mindset that it's particularly important to have a love interest on the holidays feels outdated in 2020, especially as the term "Friendsgiving," referring to spending Thanksgiving with a group of friends rather than blood relations, has become so prevalent that it got its own movie. The characters' views on romance are painfully outdated as well; even as Jackson and Sloane grow closer together, Jackson continues to argue the casually sexist view that all women become crazy during the holidays, and that it's always the woman in any given heterosexual relationship who will demand commitment.

On top of that regressive attitude, Holidate falls in the bland no-man's land between being sharp enough to appeal to adults (à la Bridesmaids) and tame enough to watch with the whole family. The film never quite settles on a tone as it tries to mix its protagonists' cynicism with its genre's inherent cheer, and only Chenoweth, playing her character as kookily and dramatically as possible, seems to be having any fun. By contrast, the predictability of the trajectory Sloane and Jackson are set on might be forgivable if Roberts and Bracey had palpable chemistry, but they never really mesh. Their snarky banter is fun — at a New Year's party, they spend the night people-watching and making snide comments — but when it comes to romance, Tiffany Paulsen's script veers into clunky territory. The environs never feel lived in, either, as exemplified by a video call that, while at least accurate in terms of looking like someone is actually holding the phone, slaps the videos of the callers on top of a dull grey background that looks like it was pulled from a meme generator rather than a feature film. Ultimately, Holidate just isn't memorable, and it's a little too blue to be safe as background noise for real-life family gatherings. Though the central idea is fun, everything that's been built around it feels rote, if not totally outdated. By comparison with Netflix's other upcoming holiday fare, which includes Kurt Russell's return as Hot Santa and a movie with three Vanessa Hudgenses, Holidate fails to make a case for itself as a new Christmas classic. Emma Roberts stars as Sloane in Netflix's new rom-com Holidate, alongside Luke Bracey, who plays love interest Jackson. Even though the duo decide to keep things strictly business — they essentially hire one another as dates for every holiday in the foreseeable future — Sloane definitely gets dressed up glamorously for moments with Jackson, at least when compared to the worn-in sweats she wears at home. Costume designer Helen Huang, who's also worked on American Horror Story and Ted, spoke to POPSUGAR about shopping for each of Sloane's looks. Remember: there's a whole year's worth of holidays to shop for here, and Sloane and Jackson may or may not have strayed from the major Hallmark dates, finding time to see each other on Earth Day, Mother's Day, and Cinco de Mayo, too. Even though Sloane appears to be up on the latest trends when it comes to outerwear — she has the perfect oversize, check jacket that looks lived-in and a leopard coat that Emma Roberts was personally obsessed with while on set — a lot of the pieces Sloane's wearing are actually vintage. In fact, Huang is somewhat of a thrifting connoisseur, which basically means that you can get Sloane's look for a fraction of the price if you shop wisely. "I loved collaborating with Emma! Where many shy away from clothing that is too quirky or eccentric, Emma was fearless," Helen said. We not only commend Helen for putting a sustainable practice into use on set, we're also dying to know where all these vintage looks came from and just how involved Emma Roberts was when it came to dressing her character. Spoiler: she totally had a say in the matter, even introducing the costume team to Citizen of Humanity jeans, which you'll see her wear throughout the movie. Read ahead to get details on some of our favorite looks, and see how Helen works her magic.

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