How does one find love over the holidays? It’s easier, perhaps, to lock down a trusty holidate: someone who shines as a party plus one and evaporates after the revelry. Such is the premise of “Holidate,” a noxious new entry into Netflix’s seasonal catalog.
Set in an interminably festive Chicago, the story follows Sloane (Emma Roberts), a romance cynic who’s sick of her family harping on her singledom. In line to return a Christmas gift, she meets Jackson (Luke Bracey), a golf pro reeling from his recent fling with a stage five clinger. Both are seeking a companion on New Year’s Eve; neither wants to deal with baggage or commitment. Voilà, a holidate bargain is born. Soon, the pair extends their pact to all holidays: Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo. In this alternate universe, even Mother’s Day occasions a no-strings-attached escort.
Cycling through shindigs, these attractive party animals echo the couples in movies like “Friends With Benefits” and “Sleeping With Other People,” other rom-coms in which best pals trade jibes and roll their eyes at love stories while stifling their true feelings. But in “Holidate,” directed by John Whitesell, the leads are less acerbic than annoying. Take the Fourth of July: As Sloane shames her brother’s fiancée into shouting profanities, Jackson blows off his finger hurling a firework.
But far worse than these characters’ grating personalities are the regressive strains underpinning their flirtation. Jackson vetoes casual sex with Sloane because “girls get clingy” since they “are hard-wired to attach and procreate.” At the same time, Sloane’s crew belabors their belief that gals need a guy to survive. How many gatherings will it take before these reluctant beaus admit to their affection? Better to bail early.
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 43 minutes. Watch on Netflix.