Film Review – Holiday in the Wild

Directed: Ernie Barbarash

Writer: Neal H. Dobrofsky, Tippi Dobrofsky

Starring: Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, Fezile Mpela 

Trivia: The film spend four years in development, as Kristin Davis wanted to secure ethical use of elephants and their safety. Davis did not want to use trained elephants for the film and has publicly thanked Netflix for agreeing to her terms.

Anyone that knows me, knows I’m a sucker for rom-com and even Hallmark Channel movies. I don’t see anything wrong in having once in a while a proper cheesy movie that comes from “Never-Land” where you know exactly what would take place and when. Sometimes a girl needs some predictability.

Holiday in the Wild is a Hallmark Channel movie… but on Netflix and with BAD acting with two actors that normally are really good, but even they could not salvage the atrocious script they were given.

It seems that Netflix is doing it’s best to do “anything you can do I can do bigger” when it comes to producing syrupy, formulaic, B-grade festive movies, even when it comes to cheesy Christmas movies we used to associate with Hallmark.

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s the silliest moment of the film, given that the whole movie is full of them. Maybe my favorite is Kate’s (Kristin Davis) cartoonish workaholic husband announces that he’s ending their marriage 15 seconds after their son leaves for university. Literally 15 seconds. She waves goodbye, turns around and then her husband leaves her. She doesn’t even have the chance to draw breath.

I usually really like Kristin Davis and it makes me frustrated when I see her in something so dull like this because I know she can be sexy and dramatic and have layers to her. Her character here isn’t even really a character just a placemat for the script.

The film opens with a short scene that kicks off the plot but it’s so abrupt that it doesn’t have any impact. We as the audience haven’t been given a chance to get to know these people we’re supposed to care about so when this monumental thing happens in the first scene… you don’t really care.

The film hasn’t given you any reason at all to care so why would you. After that initial scene, we follow Kate to Africa where of course she meets Derek (Rob Lowe) and the main plot, if you can call it that, starts.

The idea of this plot sounds nice. Two middle aged single people who care about elephant conservation falling in love… how nice! The problem is that it’s so incredibly dull and all the emotions feel forced.

Both Davis and Lowe’s characters are just meant to be together. Their own personal details aren’t important to the script at all. I feel worse for Lowe here because at least we get a couple minor pieces of info about Davis. We literally have nothing to go off of with him and he has zero development.

That’s the real problem with films like this, there is no real development of anything, not the characters and certainly not the story. A film connecting with its audience depends upon how much they care about their characters and the plot, unfortunately the writers just don’t care here. 

I could have gone even more about how empty it is and how some characters are introduced only to so call complicate the “love story” but have no effect on it, such as Lowe’s existing love interest, a South African blonde woman who remains perfectly made up at all times despite living and working in a Zambian elephant orphanage, becomes so abjectly evil that she ultimately dooms the entire elephant population of Africa to extinction because she is jealous at Lowe’s new interest.

The only positive elements of this movie were the elephants. It felt as if this movie was supposed to be a promotion movie for elephant conservation – but then do a bloody documentary with depth on the problem and the dangers that elephants in the wild face, don’t make a cheesy Christmas Hallmark movie.

So, if you’re looking for some good ‘ol fashion fantasy rom-com for this Christmas season stick with Hallmark – they know how to do it and I heard they have about 40 of them planned for us.

Verdict 1.5/5 Stars in my book

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