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A man and a woman sit next to each other at a bar.

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Emily Clark

Movie Review

Tired of being alone on the holidays but unwilling to commit to a relationship, strangers Sloane and Jackson agree to be each other’s “holidates” (a concept devised by Sloane’s Aunt Susan).

Essentially, rather than scramble for a date for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter, etc.—which will more than likely result in said date believing that there’s more to the relationship due to the seriousness of the holiday—Sloane and Jackson agree to accompany each other to these major holiday events. No strings attached.

They don’t have to impress anyone, there won’t be any misunderstandings about where the relationship is going at the end of the night (because they don’t see each other outside of holidays), and, most importantly, they don’t have to sit at home alone, gorging themselves on chocolate and romcoms while the rest of the world is out enjoying itself.

Of course, even the best of plans can still go astray.

Positive Elements

Sloane’s family can be a bit overbearing and perhaps even harsh, doling out some tough love when she refuses to take their advice. However, they really do just want her to be happy.

By listening to them, Sloane realizes that she needs to be honest with herself and with her holidate Jackson regarding her feelings. Oh yeah … feelings! Despite their commitment not to letting those pesky emotions in, they manage to show up anyway.

Admittedly, it isn’t easy for Sloane to overcome her pride on the matter, to admit that her plans have gone “awry.” But the truth is, Jackson and Sloane make each other better people. (She quits smoking and starts taking better care of her body because of his influence. He quits sleeping around and being misogynistic towards women.) And once they overcome their mutual fear of commitment and rejection, they are able to move toward an honest relationship with each other.

Sloane’s younger brother, York, proposes to his girlfriend of only three months, and the pair eventually realizes that they don’t actually know each other that well. However, they go to counseling together and work through their problems.

Sloane’s older sister, Abby, similarly realizes that she has some marital problems. (Because of her husband’s irrational fear of leaving their four children alone with a babysitter, he never accompanies his wife anywhere and tends to neglect her needs.) However, Abby confronts her husband and explains that she needs him to spend more time with her sans kids, and they also work through their issues.

When a woman’s engagement dress gets ruined, Sloane kindly trades clothes with her. Jackson saves Sloane from an embarrassing situation with her ex by pretending to be her boyfriend. We hear about a man who volunteers in a children’s cancer ward. And Aunt Susan overcomes her own fear of commitment, too.  

Spiritual Elements

Sloane’s mom appears to be Christian, but it doesn’t seem like she is an active participant in her faith. She gets angry at Susan for wearing a bunny costume to Easter but says nothing when Sloane talks about having premarital sex. York, Liz (his girlfriend) and one of Abby’s children all talk about “fate.” Susan ironically brings a man named Jesus (pronounced the Spanish way) to Easter dinner.

Sloane and Jackson say they started hating Christmas after realizing that Santa wasn’t real and getting (in their opinions) subpar gifts. A choir sings “Joy to the World.” Someone mentions a cult. A man exclaims, “God bless America!” A woman says she thinks she is going to hell.

Sexual Content

Two people remove their clothes and have sex (though nothing is seen apart from him shirtless and her bare back). Another scene involves a sexual act that is implied but which we don’t actually see. We are led to believe that a couple is having sex before the camera reveals they are just eating chocolate.

When Sloane wakes up wearing a bra and Jackson’s underwear (he is naked underneath a blanket), neither of them can remember if they had sex the night before. Sloane hides behind a partition, putting on her own underwear and throwing Jackson’s back at him. He looks under the blanket at himself and decides that they probably didn’t have sex due to the lack of “evidence.”

After Abby accidentally gives Sloane a laxative, Sloane begs Jackson to rip her costume off (she is wearing a very tight corset that requires help to remove) so she can use the bathroom. An older couple witnesses this and thinks they are trying to have sex. Later, Sloane sits in a tub (covering herself with her arms so nothing is seen) while Jackson helps rinse her off without looking—though he sneaks a peek near the end.

Abby tells Sloane that she kissed another man at a party and feels guilty. However, even though the man tries to pursue Abby, she stays with her husband, tells him the truth and works through the infidelity with him. We hear that Sloane’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her with another woman and that she found out because he had sent pictures of his genitals to the woman. Later, we see that the couple is expecting a child together.

A man throws candy into a woman’s cleavage. Sloane grabs Jackson’s rear to annoy her mom. A woman sits in a man’s lap. People grind and touch inappropriately while dancing at clubs and a wedding. Two women suck on two men’s fingers in a sexual manner. Several couples kiss and hug throughout the film (sometimes groping each other in the process). A father-daughter dance is interrupted after people realize that the song playing for them is very sexual and inappropriate.

Female characters wear very revealing outfits—Susan wears an inappropriate bunny costume to Easter dinner—and people objectify these women. A girl’s dress rips while dancing, and although we don’t see anything on screen, it’s implied that her breasts were completely exposed. A woman lifts her shirt to show a tattoo on her stomach.

People talk and make multiple crude jokes about sex, male and female genitals, affairs, pornography and homosexuality. Sloane says her first sexual experience happened when she was 12. A man accidentally implies that a woman is a prostitute. After a woman tells her daughters that a “whore” is someone who is paid to play with boys, both girls exclaim that’s what they want to be for Halloween. And still more conversations about sex happen in various contexts and character combinations throughout the film.

Violent Content

Several men shoot fireworks at another man standing in a canoe, trying to make him fall in the lake. One man accidentally blows his finger off while doing this and we see lots of blood and the severed phalange as he is rushed to the hospital.

Sloane jumps into Jackson’s arms and he lifts her above his head, then drops her accidentally (they both hit their heads). A woman nearly wrecks a car (several times). Susan falls and injures her leg while dancing. A man has a heart attack. Sloane slaps the belly of a pregnant woman not realizing that she is pregnant.

Crude or Profane Language

About 35 f-words (including one uttered by a child) and 20 s-words. God’s name is misused 30 times (once paired with “d–n”). Christ’s name is misused another 10. Other vulgarities and profanities include “h—,” “d–n,” “a–,” “a–hole,” “b–ch,”  and “p-ss,” as well as various crass slang terms for both the male and female anatomy.

Adults belatedly apologize for swearing in front of children. A man complains that he can’t make a rude hand gesture because his middle finger is injured.

Drug and Alcohol Content

People drink throughout the film. Jackson and Sloane get so intoxicated that they pass out and are unable to recall the events of the previous night. One man passes out and falls over after chugging one too many beers. Sloane gets inebriated from bourbon truffles in a candy shop. Jackson and Sloane talk about “drunk-mocking” strangers.

A man smoking marijuana insists that it is medicinal before sharing the joint with several other people. Two people are caught smoking a joint in a hospital, but the nurse on duty says she is too tired to report them. Sloane smokes several cigarettes (though she eventually quits the habit), and she comments that “a little tobacco never killed anybody”—which Jackson is quick to correct.

Other Negative Elements

Exasperated by her family’s constant attempts to set her up with a man, Sloane asks why everyone is so suspicious of a happy single woman. Jackson points out that she clearly isn’t happy, but her point still stands—her family needs to back off. Her mom interrupts Sloan when Sloan is working to introduce her to a man via video chat; she constantly states that her daughter needs a husband; she even compares being dateless on Valentine’s Day to having cancer.

Jackson and his friend can be very misogynistic, saying that women get crazy and clingy around the holidays because they want a commitment. This is a bit hypocritical since we later learn that both genders long for stable and healthy relationships but are plagued with cynicism because they’ve been jilted before.

Sloane says that many men default to panic and flee if they even think a woman wants something more than sex. She also says that it’s important to “date down” so that the person you are with won’t abandon you for someone better looking.

People lie. A woman shoplifts. A man gets uncomfortable when a woman’s family says he is “practically family” the first time he meets them (and after only three dates with the woman herself). Sloane mocks golfers when she discovers that’s what Jackson does for a living. A woman jokes about having her 6-year-old babysit since she’s old enough to dial 911.

We hear stories about a girl urinating on Santa’s lap and a boy defecating on a nativity set. Sloane is accidentally given a laxative and winds up not making it to a toilet in time. (We don’t see this on screen, but we hear about it.)

Conclusion

Sloane and Jackson discuss early on how much they hate romantic comedies because even though there’s always some lame reason for why the couple won’t end up together, you already know they’ll work it out because the movie poster shows them together. And ironically enough, Holidate lives up to its genre by doing the exact same thing.

However, unlike most heartwarming romcoms, Holidate is way, way worse in terms of its explicit content. It’s almost as if this film’s the creators were trying to prove that Holidate isn’t a romcom by making it as crude as possible.

Even though we don’t see any crucial parts, there’s still a lot of skin on display. People have sex, talk about sex and make sexual innuendos. And even though cheating is clearly frowned upon by most characters, it still happens.

Sloane, meanwhile, is rarely seen without some sort of drink in her hand. A man literally blows off his finger with a firework (and a bloody mess ensues). And the language is awful too—to the point where characters have to tell the kids in the movie not to use that kind of language (although this doesn’t stop one little girl from using the f-word without repercussions in front of her mom).

Holidate would have its audience believe that if you’re single and happy, then you’re probably just kidding yourself. At the same time, it also implies that if you just want to have sex, drink lots of booze, smoke, swear and give in to any and all worldly vices, then nobody should shame you for that, either.

And although this anti-romcom cautions that those vices could ultimately prevent you from being happy, its glorification of them onscreen is also what makes this movie a serious no-go.

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.