by Adam Thas and Alison Thas
Part 1: Holiday in the Wild
While clunky transitions and exposition dumps are to be expected in holiday movies (they have to have time for all the holiday gift wrapping montages!), this movie was so oddly paced and jarring that I couldn’t look past the ridiculousness of it all. Kristin Davis throws herself into volunteering at the sanctuary for over a year for seemingly no reason? The manager of the elephant sanctuary puts all his faith in Kate despite seeing zero credentials confirming her ability to work with animals? Kate finding herself called back to the sanctuary while gazing at an elephant poster as she writes a prescription for a dog suffering from depression? Where is Christmas in any of this?
We are not even 10 minutes into this movie and I am already regretting agreeing to this. I’m regretting it so much that I’m regretting all my life choices that brought me to this point -- purchasing Netflix, owning a television, waking up this morning...the list goes on. The movie starts out innocently enough, with Kate (Kristin Davis) taking a family photo with her husband in her gigantic New York apartment. She then proceeds to have the worst four minutes of her life. Over this short period, Kate’s son leaves for college, she surprises her husband with a trip to Africa for Christmas, to which he responds that he’s divorcing her. Slow clap here, folks. They manage to set up the entire plot of the movie in under four minutes. Kate now goes to Africa on her own and meets up with Derek (Rob Lowe), a bush pilot and manager of an elephant sanctuary. Oh, and did I mention Kate is a veterinarian? Yeah, if I waited a while to mention that it’s because the movie does, too.
Probably my favorite moment of the entire experience is when my wife finally snapped. She wanted this movie to be good and she was so excited to watch it with me that I sat their quietly through the endless string of musical montages and terrible yellow filter over everything not saying a word, and then Alison snapped. I’m sure all of you have been in that position where you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, but then it may be a joke or a sigh but something opens the flood gates and you realize you’re on the same page. I honestly didn’t know Alison was capable of such venom, but she was fully entrenched in “this movie sucks” with easily 40 minutes left. This first adventure into Christmas Movies with Holiday in the Wild started off awful but in the end was fun because of who I was watching it with, sitting under a blanket with my wife, drinking hot cocoa and asking ourselves “What the hell does this to do with Christmas?” It wound up being a really solid 85 minutes. Well, 40 minutes of it at least.