Holiday Engagement

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
Holiday Engagement Movie Poster Image
Predictable holiday romcom has mild sexual references.
  • G
  • 2012
  • 97 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

You can fall in love with unexpected people quickly. Don't try to please others before you please yourself.
 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hillary can't see that her successful lawyer fiancé doesn't care about her as much as he cares about his career.  A mom is hypercritical of her daughter and doesn't appreciate her many talents and gifts.
 

Violence

A man dumps his fiancé because she doesn't want to drop everything in her Los Angeles life to move with him to Pittsburgh for his promotion.

Sex

A mother tells her grown daughter that the parents make love three times a week. Two strangers pretending to be engaged share a bedroom but sleep in separate beds. A woman with a rich husband is cynical in her assumption that all husbands cheat on their wives.

Language

"Heck."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Holiday Engagement is a 2011 made-for-TV movie about a young writer whose fiancé dumps her in favor of career advancement. Feminism, personal fulfillment, and finding a good guy are undercurrents of a story about a woman in her thirties still trying to please her mother more than herself. When she hires an actor to impersonate the man who dumped her just so she can get through Thanksgiving without recriminations from the family, her life begins to change. The fake couple kisses, fully clothed. A woman talks about having sex three times a week with her husband. "Heck" is about as raw as the language gets. 

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What's the story?

Like Sandra Bullock in The Proposal, Hillary (Bonnie Somerville) needs a HOLIDAY ENGAGEMENT, in this case a fiancé to fill in for the one who dumped her right before a family Thanksgiving dinner. Hillary's pushy mother (Shelley Long) always questions and criticizes Hillary's decisions and career choices so it's no wonder Hillary feels comfortable pulling off the hoax. Hillary also hopes the ruse might buy enough time for the real fiancé to change his mind and take her back. David (the charming Jordan Bridges), an unemployed actor, takes the job for a pair of tickets to a Mexican resort, the site of a romantic trip he'd taken with the woman who had recently dumped him. Of course David and Hillary fight it all the way but finally recognize, to no one's surprise, that they are right for each other.

Is it any good?

While this movie gets off to a woefully slow start, by the second half the charm and competence of the actors surpasses the mediocrity of the script. Somerville looks and plays it appealingly like a newer model Amy Poehler, and Bridges as her hired fiancé has a deep likability and warmth. Together they help viewers forget the shaky premise, and the many ways in which Holiday Engagement rips off previous movies. Yes, Hillary is a plucky, upbeat journalist with a plucky and upbeat best friend to whom she confides the humiliation of arriving at Thanksgiving without a fiancé. But once Bridges enters the picture, they make the experience of witnessing the inevitable a pleasure.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about whether parents should impose their expectations and demands on adult children, like Hillary's parents do in Holiday Engagement. How might such demands affect the parent-child relationship?

  • The movie gives early hints that Hillary's fiancé is not a great guy. How does the audience know that he is going to dump her? Why do you think Hillary can't see it coming?

  • How does this compare to other romantic comedies about mismatched couples?

Movie details

For kids who love rom-coms

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