A veterinarian on a solo second honeymoon finds the wildlife very compelling.
Kate (Kristin Davis) is a former veterinarian who lives an upper-class New York lifestyle with her husband, Drew (Colin Moss), and her son, Luke (John Owen Lowe). When Luke goes off to college in August, Drew suddenly announces that he is divorcing Kate for reasons that are best described as “convenient to the plot.” Kate reveals that she had just booked them a second honeymoon trip to a resort in Africa, and decides to go alone. At the resort, she meets Derek (Rob Lowe), a pilot who she vents at, only to find out that he is supposed to fly her to the safari portion of the trip. En route, Derek spots an orphaned elephant and he and Kate stop to save the young animal. It turns out Derek mostly works with an orphaned elephant rescue run by his friend Jonathan (Fezile Mpela) and Kate decides to spend her trip helping the animals rather than drinking expensive martinis.
Before watching this film (Netflix recommended it), I took a quick look at the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and they were not kind, either critically or in audience reviews. Expecting a Christmas disaster, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by this film. It’s basically a typical Hallmark-esque Christmas movie, but with elephants. It turns out that adorable baby elephants make almost anything better, moving this film from “tolerable” to “enjoyable.” I imagine a bunch of the negative reviews are because this movie does kind of focus on Kate finding her new life more than it focuses on her new love or Christmas magic, but I found that refreshing. We’ve seen the awkward banter between a city girl and a man from a small town (or village) a million times, but we don’t often see them discussing how their rescued elephant is growing. It at least keeps you distracted with cuteness.
I will admit that I enjoyed reading a bit about the backstory of this film as well. It turns out that Kristin Davis is deeply committed to elephant welfare, contributing to orphan elephant rescues and trying to help prevent the loss of elephants to the ivory trade. Davis also demanded that the animals in the film be used ethically, refusing to use trained elephants. This does lead to a few scenes where it’s obvious that the elephants are CGI or puppets, but since they were using real, rescued elephants in some of the other scenes, it’s kind of worth the trade-off. Granted, this compromise apparently made the film take four years to make, but I can appreciate someone’s dedication to principle.
Overall, the film wasn’t anything I’d tell people to go out of their way for, but if you like Hallmark Christmas films, this will be up your alley.
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