Brief Synopsis: Lady-who-lunches Kate’s life is thrown a curveball when, after her son, Luke, leaves for college, her husband, Drew, of over twenty years, tells her he is leaving her. Kate, who had planned for them to go on a second honeymoon on Safari in Africa, finds herself alone on the wild continent.
In Africa, she meets elephant conservationist and all-round handyman, Derek.
Is It Any Good?:
Holiday In The Wild is an inoffensive, rom-com by the numbers. Starring Kristin Davis and Rob Lowe, it looks at love blossoming between a more mature couple, a second chance for both. There is also a loose Christmas connection, hence the title.
It is August and Kate (Kristin Davis) has arranged for a photographer to take a Christmas family photo with her husband, Drew (Colin Moss), and soon to be going to college son, Luke (John Owen Lowe).
Drew does not see the importance of getting the photo done, especially as it is August. Kate explains that it is the last time they will probably ever do it as Luke is going to college the next day. They quickly finish with the photo and Drew leaves for work.
Later that day, Kate is out to lunch with a couple of friends, Trish (Thandi Puren) and Tabitha (Renate Stuurman). She ponders her impending empty nest and floats the notion of returning to the workforce. Trish questions her asking why she would want to return to work. Kate says what else would she do? Her two friends chuckle. She would lunch.
Luke leaves for college the next day. After he has left, Kate tells Drew that she has arranged a second honeymoon for them both to Africa. Drew tells her he is not in love with her anymore and is leaving her. He moves out immediately.
Committed to her African trip, Kate gets on the plane and goes to Zambia. She is picked up at the airport and taken to the resort where the suite she booked and every element of the holiday reminds her that she is no longer part of a marriage.
Whilst out to dinner alone, she meets Derek (Rob Lowe). He sees her sitting alone and guesses she is from New York. He notes the name tag on the table and asks her where her husband is. Kate tries to deflect the question but then unloads her stresses on a slightly surprised Derek, telling him that her husband left her and she is on holiday on her own and that she will probably be getting divorced in a couple of weeks. Kate leaves the restaurant.
The next day, Kate goes to meet the pilot of a small plane to take her on safari. The pilot is Derek. They begin the flight. Derek sees something as he is flying and lands there plane mid-flight. He tells Kate to wait as he leaves the plane. She immediately follows after him as he disappears into the bush.
They come across an adult elephant that has had its tusk removed and its child. Derek, who is also an elephant conservationist, gets Kate to help him capture the baby elephant. Derek calls for some help and men come from the elephant shelter. He tells Kate that he will get her to the lodge to continue her safari. Kate wants to go with the elephant. Jonathan (Fezile Mpela), leader of the shelter, allows her to go with the elephant.
Kate, who had been a vet before she got married, helps with the elephant at the shelter. Jonathan explains the mission of the shelter and Kate is inspired by the place and decides to stay. Jonathan tells her she can take the tent at the end. She goes into the wrong tent, ending up in Derek’s quarters. He tells her that her tent is on the other side. As she leaves, she meets Leslie (Hayley Owen). Leslie is going to Derek’s tent.
Derek and Kate spend a lot of time together. Kate gets attached to the baby elephant, that they name Manu, they rescued. The next day the Manu gets up, well on the road to recovery. Kate uses her veterinary experience to help out around the shelter whilst she is there.
As her return date approaches, Derek decides to take Kate on the safari she missed as a thank you for all her help. They get talking and Kate finds out that Derek had a wife but she died. Kate cooks dinner for the camp, thanking them for their hospitality. She goes back to Derek’s tent with him. As she and Derek go to kiss they are interrupted by Leslie, who does not hide her displeasure at seeing Kate. Kate leaves the tent.
Derek goes after her, wanting to explain Leslie’s presence but Kate gives him short shrift, telling him that he only looks for things that amuse him and keep him happy. Derek leaves her to her thoughts. The next morning Kate, having decided to return home to America, goes to see Manu. She decides to extend her stay.
Three months later and the camp is getting ready for Christmas. The people who work at the camp await the arrival of their families. Johnathan, realising that Kate is alone for Christmas, tells her that he considers her part of his family.
Derek brings the mail from the mainland and abroad. Kate has bought a coffee machine and receives divorce papers from her husband. Later that night, Manu, along with another elephant, escapes the camp. Derek says that they will look in the morning. Kate’s fretting causes him to have a change of heart and they go to look for him.
After a few hours, Derek stops. He tells Kate they need to sleep and will continue looking in the morning. They are woken by an adult elephant. Derek recognises the elephant from the reserve.
They return to the reserve. Derek is called away, needing to go and pick someone up. Kate helps Jonathan’s wife, Aliyah (Faniswas Yisa), cook a Christmas lunch. Aliyah tells Kate that goat stew is the way to a man’s heart, alluding to Derek. A flustered Kate denies wanting anything to do with Derek.
Jonathan comes into the kitchen and tells Kate that Derek needs to see her at the airport. Kate rushes to the airport. Luke is there to surprise her, his dad having bought him the flight ticket. They all go to the Christmas lunch. Jonathan says to Derek that it is good to see him let someone get close to him, noting his affection for Kate. Derek is convinced Kate is going to leave.
Kate and Luke talk about her relationship with his father. He tells her he is surprised they stayed together for so long. Kate sees Derek a bit later. Derek is painting but does not let her see the painting. They speak briefly and she bids him goodnight. Derek uncovers the canvas. It is a sketch of Kate.
Luke tells his mother that he dropping out of college to concentrate on music. Kate tries to tell him not to but he explains to her that he does not want to wait twenty years to follow his dreams, alluding to her happiness there in Africa. The next day Luke goes home. Derek goes to see Kate later that night. She has decided to return to America. They kiss and Derek returns to his tent.
Back in his tent, Leslie has uncovered the canvas with Kate’s drawing on it as Derek comes in. Derek tells Leslie that they are over. She tells him that her family, who funds the reserve, are going to stop the funding. Kate flies back to America.
Derek tries to get funding for the reserve. Kate takes a veterinary post back in the States. She persuades her ex to fund a music scholarship for Luke. Kate calls Jonathan to find out how the reserve is going. He tells her about the financial woes of the reserve.
Kate uses her connections to raise funds for the reserves. She receives a painting from Derek. She keeps working at the veterinary clinic. Realising that the clinic only tries to make money, she returns to Africa and surprises Derek. They return Manu to the wild. The end.
Holiday In The Wild is a gentle rom-com, set in Africa with western world Christmas sensibilities. With Lowe and Davis taking the central roles as the romantic couple, the film shows an older, more mature, romance blossoming.
The acting is good without being outstanding and the story is perfunctory rather than inspired. Lowe does not stray far from is roughish, smiling, couldn’t-careless persona of many an easy paying job over the years and Davis is Charlotte displaced and aged up.
That is not to say Holiday In The Wild is unwatchable. It is just pleasant, though not overly so. One does not really care about any of the characters in the film. The elephants are quite nice though.
Written by Neil and Tippi Dobrofsky and directed by Ernie Barbarash, Holiday In The Wild is a rom-com by numbers with a bit of animal welfare thrown in for good measure. The directing is unremarkable, barely taking advantage of the African landscape.
Holiday In The Wild is an okay film that has very little to do with Christmas except for being set over that holiday period. Only watch if you feel compelled to see every Christmas release in 2019.