Holiday in the Wild will have no problem pleasing the audience it caters to. Everyone else can forget it exists.
The film stars Rob Lowe and Kristin Davis and is the first of Netflix’s original Christmas movies set to stream this holiday season.
The synopsis goes as such: After a surprise split from her husband, empty-nester Kate Conrad journeys to Zambia, where she finds her true passion… and maybe even love.
‘Holiday in the Wild’ is a tricky movie to review. Simply because it can be viewed from two completely different lenses.
One of these lenses shows an awful film. One with unfinished subplots, a serious lack of much-needed humor, and bland characters.
The other lens shows a film that perfectly caters to fans of cheesy, hallmark-style romance movies. And many would argue that that’s all ‘Holiday in the Wild’ needs to be. Especially considering how many Netflix subscribers desire nothing more than a sappy Christmas rom-com.
I’m a firm believer, though, that any movie can be good. And for this blog’s purposes, I have to view ‘Holiday in the Wild’ with the first lens.
This film is, rather than joy, a bundle of unhinged potential.
‘Holiday in the Wild’ is set on an elephant reserve in Zambia. Such a setting should bring loads of excitement to the screen. This movie, however, is thoroughly boring.
Instead of using the reserve as a launch pad for an interesting narrative, the movie settles for a meandering, cliché-ridden love story. And its relationship with the concept of conservation is frustratingly flirtatious.
‘Holiday in the Wild’ is also plagued with dry characters. Each having little difference from the next. Which, along with the movie’s story, keeps the film from developing its own identity.
Most of the movie’s subplots and side events are inconsequential to its main storyline. Except for one which is underemphasized until its radical conclusion. Another subplot is even left unfinished.
As for the Christmas portions of ‘Holiday in the Wild,’ the film would be the same without them. Christmas has almost nothing to do with character motivations or plot development. It is simply the time at which parts of this movie take place. Considering ‘Holiday in the Wild’ is supposed to be a Christmas movie, this represents one of the film’s greatest flaws.
On the flip side, however, the film isn’t all bad… At least, there are a couple good aspects.
‘Holiday in the Wild’ didn’t cut corners in regard to its setting. The movie was filmed in South Africa on a real elephant orphanage. Actors got to interact with real elephants. And while the film’s surface-scratch on conservation issues was disappointing, at least it was there.
Unlike many other similarly-cheesy Christmas movies, the dialogue in this film was bearable. And the acting was, all around, solid.
And, on that topic, this film successfully checked all the boxes of a good, mindless Christmas movie.
As much as I wish there could’ve been more to ‘Holiday in the Wild,’ I realize I’m not its target audience. Those looking for predictability and a happy ending will be the ones who enjoy this movie. There are many people who need nothing more than a cup of hot cocoa, some fuzzy socks, and a sappy rom-com to enjoy the holiday season–and that’s okay. If you’re one of those people, this movie’s for you.
That being said, I can’t pretend I enjoyed this film. It had very few likable qualities. But, I acknowledge that there is a large contingent of people who enjoy films such as ‘Holiday in the Wild.’ Hence, I’ll give it a bit of grace in regards to its rating.
Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆
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