Imitative script fails charming leads in ‘Holidate’

Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey in Holidate / Courtesy

The new Netflix release “Holidate” may look like your grandma’s latest Hallmark holiday movie, but director John Whitesell’s film is decidedly more adult.

Check that.

The movie is more adolescent, featuring foul language, poop and sex jokes, and some decidedly raunch situations that would never see the light of day on the Hallmark Channel. While that material isn’t appropriate for kids, describing it as “adult” is a misnomer. It’s just dirty.

The bits are meant for laughs, but unfortunately most of them are just alternate takes on gags better executed in other movies. If you want me to laugh at gross-out humor, please don’t crib your material from funnier films.

You can tell the director, writer Tiffany Paulsen, and producer McG are fans of the Farrelly brothers films, but they never truly go all in. If you’re going to drive me down the gross-out highway, don’t stop short.

So, like a Hallmark or Lifetime Christmas movie — which I admit are a guilty pleasure of mine — “Holidate” is just a spin on more original ideas with a resolution you can see coming from miles away.

I’m not sure if this movie is a Netflix programer or one that was scheduled for theaters before being sold off to the streaming network because of Covid-19, but it is mind-numbingly derivative. It’s kind of a cross between the 1942 Christmas classic “Holiday Inn” and “Bridesmaids,” both infinitely better movies.

To the film’s credit, leads Emma Roberts as Sloane and Luke Bracey as Jackson have a degree of chemistry, which at least makes the movie watchable. They play losers in the game of love who’ve given up on finding a true partner in life, but who enjoy each other’s company enough to be the other’s “plus one” for holiday occasions.

So we follow the couple from one Christmas to the next on a series of holiday dates that run a range from gross and uncomfortable to dumb and even slightly funny. Each of those experiences bond Sloan and Jackson closer and closer together until the inevitable.

If you like romantic comedies, you might turn this movie into a drinking game of sorts when you spot a plot device pilfered from another movie. Otherwise, I’d just suggest re-watching a truly classic romantic comedy like “When Harry Met Sally” or a really funny gross-out romp like “There’s Something About Mary.”

If you watch “Holidate,” it might leave you worked up but ultimately frustrated.

(TV-MA) 1 hr. 43 min.
Grade: C-

New In Local Movie Theaters

  • Let Him Go(R) 1 hr. 54 min. (watch trailer)
    Playing at: AMC Fiesta Square, Malco Razorback, Malco Rogers Towne, Bentonville Skylight

Classic Corner – Goldfinger (AMC Fiesta Square)

As you no doubt know by now, Sir Sean Connery passed away last Saturday. The news was sad for his fans, but the Scottish star will be forever remembered for his bevy of screen work over his near 50-year career.

The Academy Award winner starred in so many great movies that had nothing to do with his most famous role, James Bond, but his 007 spy movies made him a star that we will never forget. Connery played Bond in seven films between 1962 and 1983, and while nearly a half dozen other actors have played the famous spy, Connery stands alone as the icon.

Everyone has their own favorite Connery Bond movie, but for me it’s his third outing as the super spy in 1964’s “Goldfinger.” The film is where all the elements that we think of when we think of the big-screen version of Bond came together under the direction of Guy Hamilton. Many of the elements introduced in the film became hallmarks of the Bond movies for decades before a back-to-basics approach with the character was taken with the 2006 version of “Casino Royal,” starring Daniel Craig.

While the newer films have been solid to extremely good, when I think of Bond, I think of Connery and his version of the character that truly became full formed in “Goldfinger.” I loved the extensive use of technology and gadgets by the character as well as the pre-credit sequence that stood largely alone from the main storyline, the multiple foreign locales, and tongue-in-cheek humor that were all introduced in “Goldfinger.”

The film’s plot has Bond investigating gold smuggling by gold magnate Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) and eventually uncovering Goldfinger’s plans to contaminate the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox in Kentucky.

The movie features two of the most memorable Bond villains in the aforementioned Goldfinger and Oddjob (Harold Sakata), Goldfinger’s lethal but silent Korean manservant. The movie asl features two of the more memorable Bond girls with Honor Blackman starring as Pussy Galore and Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson, who dies of “skin suffocation” in the movie after her body is painted in gold when Goldfinger finds out she betrayed him to Bond.

Many Bond aficionados will argue that other films veer closer Bond creator Ian Fleming’s actual books, and I can’t argue that, but as for the movies, I don’t think Bond is ever better than in “Goldfinger.”

Evidently, Connery had a love-hate relationship with his most famous role. It certainly catapulted him to stardom, but he preferred meatier subjects and more serious roles such as his parts in “The Man Who Would Be King,” “A Bridge Too Far,” “The Untouchables” and “The Hunt for Red October.”

Connery also was perfect as the charming father of Harrison Ford’s signature character in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” but for a generation of movie-goers, Connery will long be beloved for brining Bond to the big screen like one else could have.

No doubt to salute the passing of Connery, “Goldfinger” is back in theaters, playing at Fayetteville’s AMC Fiesta Square this week.