The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
As October draws to a close, so does the spooky season, and just like that, the Christmas inspired holiday films are upon us! With the likes of Hallmark playing their catalog of infinite amounts of television holiday films for its ever-extended schedule, Netflix takes its stab at the season with its first “traditional” holiday film of 2020.
From the director of Big Momma’s House 2 (2006) and the holiday misfire Deck the Halls (2006), John Whitesell brings us Holidate, and the title says it all (holiday plus a designated date equals Holidate.) The film is directed exactly as you’d picture any typical holiday production, except instead of purely during Thanksgiving or Christmas, this film takes place over a yearly calendar of holidays. Whitesell delivers a generic landscape for what seems to be a fair attempt at a meta holiday romance; he contributes an indifferent amount to the overall production as it remains difficult to tell if it was purposeful to make a traditional “bad” holiday feature or a meta product to poke fun at the genre. That’s the film’s biggest issue: it doesn’t know what type of holiday film it wants to be.
Emma Roberts reunites with the screenwriter of the 2006 film Nancy Drew, which is a reason I’m sure she accepted this role in the first place. Tiffany Paulsen penned Holidate and it’s clear that she either has a massive admiration for the onslaught of holiday features or a deep hatred toward them that she had to make her own to poke fun at the genre as a whole. The story follows Sloane and Jackson, two individuals unaware of each other's existence until one fateful day while trying to return some presents, they spontaneously make a pact to become one another’s “holidate” indefinitely. From beginning to end, every scene and every moment involving our two leads is predestined - it’s obvious where the story will conclude. However, it’s the side characters that make the predictable scenes much more of a delight than they have any right being - that is until each side character’s flare fades. Each holiday has a visual attribute that signifies the exact holiday being celebrated, with green and beer declaring the day as St. Patrick’s Day for example. These details help us keep track of time as the story jumps from holiday to holiday throughout a 365 day period.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Emma Roberts leads the film as Sloane, and this is somehow her best role to date, but that is coming from a person that normally can’t stand her work. A large reason for this is that Roberts has a tendency to perform in an insincere fashion in every role she receives that makes my eyes automatically roll. Holidate however is her time to shine as her unique acting style is elevated by just how poor the actors beside her are; although the below par acting does make up a substantial part of the film’s entertainment value. Luke Bracey breaks through the fold however, playing Jackson, the Australian womanizer that finds solace in having Sloane as his holidate. Bracey and Roberts work well off one another, creating a doubtful relationship, but one that has solid potential to succeed in the end, which is something that many holiday rom-coms lack. While the writing is all over the place with its sincerity, the chemistry of the leads makes the generic outline of the story flow with ease. When things do become a little too predictable, side characters like Aunt Susan (Kristen Chenoweth) with her one and done “holidates” or York (Jake Manley) with his premature marriage proposal make the film just as predictable but much more tolerable.
HOLIDATE Doesn’t Know What Type Of Holiday Film It Wants To Be
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Dan The Automator takes an enormous step back after his amazing score for Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart with this recognizable score. From the usual romantic comedy themes to the overly cheery holiday undertones, Dan The Automator’s score is everything but original.
To put it bluntly, Holidate shares the visual stylings of a made for tv holiday film. The film is very simplistic, with very little set pieces throughout. Each scene goes from bland location to bland location - Holidate lacks personality.
Holidate attempts to be a meta example of what a holiday rom-com can be, but ultimately is afraid to take that extra leap to differentiate itself from the average holiday affair.
HOLIDATE - Now Streaming On NETFLIX