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Review: Darn it, socks again? Netflix romcom ‘Holidate’ is the ‘gift’ we keep on getting

Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey star in the Netflix romcom "Holidate."
Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey play singles who live near each other and like each other a lot but find reasons to see each other only on holidays and definitely not fall in love in the Netflix romcom “Holidate.”
(Steve Dietl/Netflix)

“Holidate” knows it’s hitting every branch as it falls down the cliché tree. Does that soften the landing?

Nope.

Arriving with a quiet thud in the holiday romcom sorting trough is this new Netflix offering with Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey. Sloane (Roberts) and Jackson (Bracey) are the latest pair of extremely good looking single people to like each other very much but find about 95 (out of about 104 total) minutes’ worth of reasons not to be together.

Sloane is heartbroken (Read: unpleasant) and Jackson is not into commitment (Read: shallow), so by the Gods of Meet Cute, they are decreed to be each other’s “holidates.” That is, they conspire to see each other only on holidays (with no sex, of course) so they don’t have to suffer the terrible trauma of not having a super-hot platonic companion on, say, St. Patrick’s Day or Cinco de Mayo.

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But what of Arbor Day, I ask thee?

Anyway, the movie, written by Tiffany Paulsen, is self-aware enough to nod at the formula — the characters even say of another romcom, “You know from the poster they’ll be together.” The question here is, will you stay focused long enough for them to overcome the molecule-size obstacles keeping them apart? I mean, this isn’t exactly “Titanic” or “The Great Gatsby.” They’re two folks in the same city with no other attachments and really no reason not to skip to what we all know is coming (not a spoiler; just look at that poster).

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Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey in the Netflix romcom “Holidate.”

These factory-made widgets continuously roll off the conveyor belt for one reason: There’s demand for them. Folks clicking on its Netflix thumbnail know how “Holidate” will turn out and figure these two are gorgeous enough to make waiting 90 minutes for it to happen worthwhile.

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Sadly, not so much. There’s plenty of dialogue that would rub off the surface of any romcom snow globe, but alas, little beneath.

Bracey and Roberts are just fine. Other characters are familiar — the oversexed aunt (Kristin Chenoweth chews scenery with aplomb), the Black friend (Andrew Bachelor wrings out a few chuckles), the too-perfect couple with thinly veiled problems solvable by montage, the wacky younger sibling. They are acceptably executed, though their stories won’t linger in the mind. Set in Chicago (but shot in Atlanta), the film achieves a generic cleanliness in the hands of director John Whitesell (“Deck the Halls,” two “Big Momma’s House” sequels).

In such troubled times, one supposes there’s comfort to be found in the lack of adventurousness of “Holidate,” but it’s like opening the same present again and again.

‘Holidate’

Rated: TV-MA (language, smoking)

Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes

Playing: Available Oct. 28 on Netflix


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