It's getting reasonably close to Christmas so this film is just one of many romantic comedies that is headed our direction in 2019. These films all seem to have a similar progression and everyone knows what is going to happen in the end and this film is not an exception to this rule.
The redeeming quality that this film has is exactly what I mentioned in the title and therefore I think, despite the critical mass-production cookie-cutter format of the film, that it is still worth watching.
I try to avoid major spoilers (as if that was a factor in a movie like this) but if you prefer to enter a film blind then it is better for you to skip this review
The description that Netflix provides for this movie puts all the pieces in place for you to successfully guess almost all the aspects of this film. The typical nature of the plot doesn't really make the story something even worth getting wrapped up in. As soon as the two meet at the bar about 10 minutes in to the film and have a less-than-perfect introduction I think most people could pause the movie and perhaps guess pretty much the rest of the entire story.
Whatever. I like Kristin Davis and especially Rob Lowe so they get a pass.
When Derek (Rob Lowe) turns out to be the pilot guide taking her on her luxury safari the following day, exactly zero audience members were surprised (not a spoiler, it's in the trailer.)
What follows is some stunning scenery of a country that I know extremely little about: Zambia. The scenes from the sky in particular are incredible and the ground shots are equally lovely. Those moments alone made the trite storyline a lot more bearable. I'm intentionally not showing them so that you can have some sort of incentive to actually watch this thing.
One thing I found out upon digging a bit deeper is that this was filmed on location at an actual elephant orphanage in Zambia under very strict controls from a combination of animal-welfare agencies. The utmost care was taken to not take advantage of the animals for the sake of making a film and therefore a lot of the interactions with the animals are actually puppetry and CGI and I honestly couldn't tell when watching (and trust me, I was looking because I love to make fun of these sorts of things.)
The movie has a really great point to make during the very reasonable 80 minute run-time and that is the destruction of wildlife populations and the disconnect that the average modern person has from exactly how dire and real this situation is.
The film continually takes shots at urban life and they do a very good job of this whenever they transition back to Kate's (Kristin Davis) friends and family in NYC who are stuck in traffic, concerned with consumerism, and depend on technology for everything in their crowded lives. It does seem a bit patronizing, but if their intention was to suggest that "yeah, city life does kinda suck sometimes" I think they nailed that point.
from the official Netflix channel
Despite being touted as a Christmas movie it actually contains very little in the way of having really anything to do with Christmas other than about 5 minutes of an African elephant orphanage Christmas party so in that regard I think they cheated a little bit as far as classifying this as a holiday film.
Overall, this movie is as cheesy as the trailer would indicate, but the important message that the film portrays and the great location shots that we are frequented with make the eye-rolling plot pretty bearable. I expected to hate this film, but at the end I had a very different feeling about it than I expected.