Holidate: A Rom-Com for Psychopaths – Netflix Review

Seriously, someone needs therapy.

SUMMARY

Sloane (Emma Roberts) has a family that is completely obsessed with getting her hitched to a good guy. She insists she likes her independence, but they refuse to stop setting her up at every holiday. She discovers that her Aunt Susan (Kristin Chenoweth) has Holidates, guys who she sees specifically for holidays so that she doesn’t have to worry about showing up alone. At the same time, Jackson (Luke Bracey), a golf instructor from Australia, has a very bad date on Christmas and decides he doesn’t want to deal with holidays anymore, since he can’t visit his family. He and Sloane meet up between Christmas and New Years Eve and the two agree to be each other’s Holidates over the course of the next year. 

I wonder if they’ll get together?

END SUMMARY

While this should be a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy with a goofy premise, what sets it apart is that I have never seen a movie this mean-spirited before. Everyone in it is a sociopath. Sloane’s mother is not the stereotypical mom who wants her kids to be married, she apparently is incapable of having a different conversation with her daughter. She constantly calls her with new men and tells her that the thought of being single is equivalent to accepting dying alone from cancer. They even try to make the “someone to be there during chemo” thing into a sweet acknowledgement later in the movie, but that joke appears to have been written both by and for a person who has a head in their fridge. At the same time, everyone in her family isn’t much better, something the film drives home painfully and repeatedly. Then there’s the initial “bad date” that turns Jackson off holidays. The woman he’s with is a ridiculous exaggeration of the typical “too quick to love” character. Instead, she refuses to listen to a thing she says, acts then mentions some massively inappropriate sexual things in front of her parents. It’s like none of the people in this movie can even consider being empathetic or appropriate.

Like certain costumes to an Easter brunch.

The script does have a decent amount of self-awareness when it comes to tropes or cliches, but not enough to end up avoiding any of them. The main characters keep discussing what happens in movies, including the ultimate failure of friends with benefits, but as it is a romantic comedy, you know that’s what’s going to happen by the end. The two leads have a surplus of chemistry, too, which only makes it more ridiculous when Emma Roberts says things like “no one is ever really not looking to date.” She’s pointing out that no one is ever going to immediately deny someone they’re genuinely attracted to just because they have other obligations, then spends the movie doing exactly that. It’s like Babe Ruth calling his shot, only he predicted he would hit himself in the testicles with the bat.

This is when the bat hits the nuts.

Overall, this is a film to skip during the holidays. All of them.

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The Hunt (2020): Needs More Swank – Amazon Review

I take a look at the “most controversial movie you’ve never seen.”

SUMMARY

A group of elite “liberals” abduct a number of “deplorables” and hunt them for sport. The liberals include, among others, Athena Stone (Hillary Swank) and Richard (Glenn Howerton), and the deplorables include Moses (Ike Barinholtz), Yoga Pants (Emma Roberts), Gary (Ethan Suplee), Crystal (Betty Gilpin), and Don (Wayne Duvall). It’s Red State vs. Blue State, with the last man or woman standing apparently claiming moral superiority.

These are the prey. You can tell because they are heavily armed. Wait, what?

END SUMMARY

If you recall this movie, it’s probably because it was supposed to get released last year, until they stopped marketing it in response to a pair of mass shootings. This controversy was compounded by the fact that the President of the United States decided that he needed to weigh in on the movie, saying that it was “racist.” This take apparently was influential, despite the fact that the Liberals would be the bad guys in this movie and that political viewpoints are not a race. The release was then postponed. It was then moved to March of this year, with a new marketing campaign based around it being “super controversial.” Due to the fact that I don’t have a great history with films that market themselves around being controversial as opposed to, you know, GOOD, I wasn’t that psyched to see this movie. However, a friend recently told me that he enjoyed it, because this movie was essentially “(politically) moderate porn.” 

This was in response to a movie advertisement. I’m not saying anything further.

Apparently I’m not moderate enough, because I did not enjoy the cinematic experience to an erotic degree. Maybe I own too many guns, or too few, I don’t know, but I just never found the movie that compelling throughout most of it. I think, ultimately, it comes down to how the different sides are portrayed during the film. While the “Liberals” are actually pretty comically liberal, such as having discussions over their own privilege constantly, the “deplorables,” and yes I’m using that word because I think they’re a different group than Conservatives, are not exaggerated enough. One of the most common tropes in a horror movie, and this is mostly a horror film, is that audiences want victims to deserve it. The way that The Hunt seems to handle this is by assuming that the viewer will think that just because these people are conspiracy theorists, we’ll agree that they deserve to die, and that’s… hard. Even when the total situation is revealed at the end, that doesn’t somehow undo the emotional confusion from the first part of the film.

Particularly since our focal character hardly says anything.

Then there’s our main character, Crystal. Betty Gilpin does successfully portray her as a smart badass, but she’s still not that interesting for most of the film because the setting doesn’t allow her to be. She almost always seems to be in control, no matter what is happening, because she’s a former soldier, but until the literal last fight she appears to be too invincible to be a horror character. If you’ve seen the movie You’re Next, you’ll know that the key to having a kick-ass survivalist final girl is that they always need to be on the ropes, even though they’re superior to their assailants. This film doesn’t do that. 

At the end of the film, her hair is barely mussed.

However, there are a few solid points to the film. First, a number of the kills are humorous and surprising, which is always good for a horror movie. Second, the final act is actually really well done, particularly in terms of satire and thriller elements. The conversation between Betty Gilpin and Hillary Swank feels like it was pulled out of a much better script. I was amused throughout the whole sequence, which makes it only more tragic that I was pretty checked out through the first hour. 

I assume they promised Hillary Swank that she’d only have to work for like 10 days.

Overall, though, I just only found this movie to be mediocre. If you can catch it for free, maybe do that, but don’t pay $5.99 like I did. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.