Netflix's 'Holiday in the Wild': Christmas rom-com's elephant in the room is the lack of chemistry between Rob Lowe and Kristin Davis
This Netflix Christmas film is only worth a watch if you like elephants and even then, it fares no better than a cold dinner on Christmas eve. In a beautiful savannah with wild animals on the prowl, the elephant-sized hole in the story is the conspicuous lack of chemistry between Kate and Derek
Spoilers ahead for ‘Holiday in the Wild’
‘Holiday in the Wild’ doesn’t promise to be a great cinematic experience to begin with. Holiday movies are usually a schmaltzy affair with a lot of gooey moments and manufactured wholesomeness.
Romantic comedies, too, promise the same. So you can imagine how sickeningly sweet a combination of the two may just be. ‘Holiday in the Wild’, however, manages to not live up to these meager standards.
It’s the same old story we’ve seen and read a thousand times. Kate Conrad (Kristin Davis) is a rich lady, fresh out of an unhappy marriage. Kate feels unfulfilled with her life, having given up on her career as a vet.
But with her marriage too gone for a toss, Kate decides to go to Africa, on what was supposed to be a second honeymoon for her and her husband, alone. There she meets a ruggedly handsome pilot named Derek Holliston (Rob Lowe).
Initially, Derek annoys Kate. But on the way to a wildlife resort in Zambia, Derek stops to take a “detour”. This detour proves to be a deus ex machina for Kate. They save a baby elephant whose mother was killed by poachers.
They take the calf to a reserve where her motherly instincts get the better of her. As she nurses little Manu back to health, she realizes this is what she wants to do. And so, her two-week-long trip turns into three months.
In between all of this, she and Derek kiss once but things get complicated when Derek’s “friend” walks in on them. Kate decides to not pursue him and all is well. A little too well.
For a romantic comedy to work, there has to be an obvious attraction between the two leads. In ‘Holiday in the Wild’, however, Davis and Lowe may as well be cousins. In a beautiful savannah with wild animals on the prowl, the elephant-sized hole in the story is the conspicuous lack of chemistry between Kate and Derek.
They spend months on the reserve not displaying any kind of feelings for each other. Even when Kate is leaving and Derek says he would miss her, it sounds more like a social nicety rather than any kind of genuine emotion.
Yet, after she leaves, Derek renames his plane “Kate” -- It used to be “Kirk”, named after Captain Kirk of ‘Star Trek’. This is a callback to a scene where Derek explains to Kate how planes are usually named after women the pilots love.
The only question one is left asking is: When in the name of God did Derek fall in love with Kate? It is also a little disconcerting to see Rob Lowe playing a brooding and reserved man after one has seen him play Chris Treeger, the personification of the word “enthusiastic” on ‘Parks and Recreation’. But deal with it, one must.
Even though Kate finds purpose and becomes a vet again, and even raises money for the reserve and comes back to live there permanently, one has a nagging feeling it had more to do with elephants than Derek.
But hey, it’s a holiday rom-com. Why poke more holes in a story that is the film equivalent of swiss cheese? ‘Holiday in the Wild’ is only worth a watch if you like elephants and even then, it fares no better than a cold dinner on Christmas Eve.
'Holiday in the Wild' is available for streaming on Netflix.