Netflix film review: Holiday in the Wild
Written by Arthur
Rob Lowe and elephants
5/10 Total Rating 6/10
Rob Lowe and a baby elephant steal the show in this likeable, not-very-festive Christmas rom-com.
Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Ernie Barbarash Cast: Kristin Davis, Rob Lowe Certificate: PG Watch Holiday in the Wild online in the UK: Netflix UK
“The buffalo isn’t the most dangerous animal out here. We are.” That’s Rob Lowe as Derek in Netflix’s Holiday in the Wild, a film in which Rob Lowe plays a man called Derek who looks after baby elephants in Zambia. Because who doesn’t want a film starring Rob Lowe and some baby elephants?
That’s the overriding question that seems to have led to this bizarre, yet bizarrely likeable, romantic comedy, a movie that has as much to do with Christmas as it does common sense and logic. It follows Kate (Kristin Davis), a vet who finds herself ditched by her husband the second their son, Luke, leaves for college. And so she ventures off on their second honeymoon to Zambia alone, hoping to find some space – and instead finds Derek, who flies her to her accommodation but stops to help an injured elephant, inspiring her to offer to help out at the sanctuary where he works.
Naming the rescued elephant “Manu” (which means “second son”), Kate becomes part of the push to help the planet quicker than you can sing Send Me on My Way by Rusted Rocket – and yes, the film does feature Send Me on My Way by Rusted Rocket. The stage is therefore set for Kate and Derek to bond over their environmental work, with sparks flying like flies on elephant dung.
It’s hard not to shake a slight feeling of white saviour syndrome, as we watch the two Americans trying to make a difference. The supposed tension between Kate and her son, who wants to be musician rather than go to college, also doesn’t add up to much, dramatically. But from an ex threatening to close down the sanctuary to the stunning landscapes rolling out in the background, there’s still enough to enjoy Holiday in the Wild beyond the often ridiculous plot developments.
The cast sell the predictable, cheesy script without knowing winks to the camera, but with plenty of toothy grins that will delight Rob Lowe fans. It’s telling, though, that the real love story isn’t between Derek and Kate but between both of them and the animals in their care. If you’re looking for a festive romance this Christmas, Holiday in the Wild doesn’t have enough seasonal flourishes, or sizzling chemistry, to rival A Christmas Prince or Holiday Rush. But if you’re looking for a film that has an eco-friendly conscience and in which Rob Lowe looks after baby elephants, this easy-to-watch, harmless 90-minute adventure will hit the spot, no matter what time of year you watch it.