It’s the fourth day back to school, and we’re home because it’s Rosh Hashanah – l’shanah tovah, everyone! While I did have to take one of my dwindling vacation days to be home with the boys, it works out fine. Laundry, done. Dinner, done. Boys all ready for tomorrow? Yup. Boys off doing what they want in another room? Check. Me, in front of the tv, with a DVR’d gem starring Lacey Chabert? Double Check. It’s Love on Safari, the perfect antidote for the grey and chilly 2 days we’ve been having here in the Garden State.
Gorgeous overhead shots of Chicago. I love Chicago. It’s so pretty. Lacey stars as Keira, who’s an overworked web…person? (It’s unclear). She has a Sassy Friend without a name, and is headed to Scottsdale on vacation, and she’s dating Brad, from accounting. She’s going on vacation by herself. She has a great-uncle Irving, who had a nature-preserve in South Africa, and her presence has been requested to read the will.
And so we cut to Giraffes! Zebras! Lush Greenery! Bearded White guy who thinks he can fix the whole legal situation that Lacey Chabert’s character is embroiled in. And the lawyers have invited a tacky real estate scion to this nature reserve, which bearded white guy is not a fan of. And with a change of heart, Keira is off to South Africa, and her boyfriend Brad sends her off – and we already know he’s a tool because he’s got a white sweater tied around his shoulders. SERIOUSLY. That is basically costumer shorthand for “I’m a douche.”
Wherever they filmed this is amazing. Keira is flying in to the resort, and bearded guy is there to pick her up. His name is Tom Anderson, and there’s a blond girl there who plays devil’s advocate for everything Tom says, and her name is Allie. He’s already got his mind made up about her being a city girl who has no love for the land in her veins. Oh, classic he loves Africa and thinks she is just out for money trope.
My son just said, “Mommy, let me guess: they have The Sad Times, and then they fall in love at the end? Oh, Why does Everything Have to Have The Sad Times???” Why Indeed.
It’s a gorgeous room, you can tell she’s amazed by the gasps of wonderment and the music in the background. It’s very Animal Kingdom-y – but I might have that on the brain because I’m counting down to vacation in Disney. Tom relaxes in his annoyingly smug manner long enough to have a nice dinner at the resort, and he and Allie walk Keira back to her room, which makes Keira (and the entire viewing audience) think that they’re a couple.
Next morning, it’s breakfast on the savannah, which is like when the people on Downton Abbey have tea in the garden – it’s a lot of work, for a very short scene. But the lawyer is there, ready to explain what happened in Uncle Irv’s will. Full ownership of the entire place belongs to Keira!!! (Duh). She was hoping for his collection of safari whistles – which went to Tom. Keira freaks out, because her life is in Chicago, and she can’t own an African reserve, and blah blah blah. But luckily, the lawyer already has an offer on the table (the only one, apparently) to buy the reserve, but it’s from that icky real-estate guy from the beginning. So, of course Tom is freaking out. All in all, there is a lot of freaking out in a 2 minute span.
Oh, Tom has a job offer in the States that he hasn’t accepted yet. He’s got to convince Keira to love the reserve before he accepts or declines the offer. Keira, overwhelmed, Skypes with Boyfriend Brad, who encourages her to sell the resort, and offers to look over the paperwork, and wants her to come home because he’s planned some kind of surprise for her. I have zero interest in what Brad’s surprise is.
Next morning, Allie gets Tom to take Keira on some kind of picnic so we get a lot more B-roll of animals – yay, monkeys! Instead of some kind of rustic picnic, he takes her to some kind of spa-retreat, with a hot tub and everything. Tom wants her to keep it, and she’s one of those people who don’t like risks, and wants a guarantee, so she says it’s not a realistic option to keep the resort. But they can’t make it back to the resort because their both their car and their walkie talkies are not working.
So after the commercial break, they have to wait for someone to come get them, and they have a heart to heart about who they are: she’s a web designer who is not inspired by her life, and he’s from Kansas and love animals and has been at this resort for 10 years. They get to relax looking at the sunset on the savannah. We find out that her parents are dead, and she likes stability. But we don’t establish that Tom and Allie are NOT dating before Allie shows up to rescue them.
Next day, she’s off to meet with the Warringtons, the real-estate people who want to buy the resort. Artie Warrington has a meeting with her on a patio that is in the middle of a pool. It’s SUPER weird. On the way home, Tom takes Keira to a local village, and she’s in a white sundress and strappy sandals and I just really think she’s overdressed. But she’s happy to be in the village, and there’s great African singing by some kids which sounds awesome. She was so inspired that she had to redesign the reserve’s website. Boyfriend Brad (via Skype again) is less than thrilled.
Off Tom and Keira go to see the elephants! She’s so happy! Then they go on a game drive to see lions! (Hyenas first, though). Tom is a wealth of information about animal conservation, and the facts he spouts are kind of sad – just how many animals used to be here, and how many are actually here. But never mind that – LIONS! We also finally establish that Allie and Tom are step-brother and sister. And the only adjective Keira can use to talk about Boyfriend Brad is “great.” You know you suck when all people can call you is “great.”
This resort has amazing wifi. She’s playing with the website, and she’s taped some of his conservation spiel to sit on the site. She still wants to sell the reserve, but she’s conflicted about it. She has to have a heart to heart with the African Mother who works at the reserve. Her name is Awazi? and she’s full of folksy wisdom, and even though her character is believable to be in this movie, I still am getting Legend of Bagger Vance vibes out her performance.
Baby Elephants! And it’s almost Keira’s birthday! And she spontaneously hugs Tom and he’s they are just getting comfortable with each other and Brad shows up! he’s complaining that it’s hot, but he’s wearing a long-sleeve shirt and jeans, so shut the hell up, Brad. He’s also there to lend his mansplaining vibes to her for the signing of the deal. She’s transported by her time in Africa, and she takes him hiking and all he can do is complain about how hot – seriously, it’s HOT – it is. And Tom is so not winded by the hike and the heat, and so Boyfriend Brad is sufficiently threatened.
Brad just wants to get back to civilization, and in order to hurry Keira along, he offers to look at the Warrington offer one more time. What makes me think that he’s gonna forge her name on the contract or something? Allie pushes Tom to go talk to Keira – and their chemistry is just….not really there. But apparently it’s there enough for Brad to see them talking and get very threatened and off he goes to Johannesburg to meet with the Warringtons. Man, what an ass. This Guy Sucks!!!! There’s a handshake agreement between Warrington and Brad, who says he’s Keira’s financial advisor. How pissed off will Keira be when she finds out? And will Tom find out first, and get The Sad Times before it gets fixed? Is this what happens?
Maybe, Maybe Not. Keira wants to sell the reserve to the people who work there. Brad doesn’t understand why she loves it, and he’s pouting because he can’t spend her birthday with her. Off Keira goes to find Tom, tell him she wants to save the reserve, and they’ve got to go to Johannesburg. Her dress looks like it has detachable sleeves. Weird.
Artie Warrington doesn’t get the magic of the reserve, and refuses to be an investor in the property, he only wants to purchase it, and now he’s a jerk about it. No more poolside charm for Artie Warrington! Keira also finds out about Brad being her ‘financial advisor’ and how safeguards against a Warrington gut job on the reserve do not need to be in the paperwork (because sure, whatever, we trust you, douchebag) and Keira is not thrilled. But before she has it out with Brad, she is momentarily sidetracked by more African singing for her birthday. It sounds lovely.
Tom gives her a whistle and a picture of the baby elephant, and now Keira has to make a speech at her own birthday party. She has yet to yell at Brad. He breaks out an engagement ring, and OF COURSE Tom leaves before she can say no. But she doesn’t say no, which makes no sense – maybe she’s just too confused? She doesn’t put the ring on, she just carries it around in its ugly pink box. And I seriously hate Brad’s hair. She does get annoyed that he went behind her back, but she doesn’t yell, so Brad doesn’t get just how much she’s pissed. Bad direction, Hallmark!
Tom doesn’t know how to fix the whole situation with Keira – he wasn’t expecting to fall in love with her!!!! There is more love between Allie and Tom than between Keira and Tom in this movie.
Keira is still unhappy about everything, so she has to go to the hilltop lookout in the most absurd espadrilles ever, so she can see the expanse of her land, and just how gorgeous it is. I am in awe of how she was able to get so many outfits in her one suitcase. Yay, more elephants! And Keira has made up her mind – and off she goes to find Brad to tell him that he sucks for not respecting her as a rational person who knows her own mind. And what does he come back with? “Is this because of Tom, are you in love with him?” GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE WITH YOUR INJURED MALE PRIDE BRAD. We have ENOUGH of it in the universe lately. You and your stupid swoopy hairstyle need to get on a plane and leave Hallmark movieland before I throw a shoe.
Oh, Keira answers him nicely, instead of yelling like I just did. Bye Bye ugly engagement ring. She says she’s sorry, but I wouldn’t be. Brad SUCKS.
Off Keira goes to burn the midnight oil to save her reserve the only way she knows – Twitter. Or rather, Sassy Friend’s Twitter Feed. (Trust me, it only makes sense in Hallmark movieland.) But before the final reel, Keira gets Tom’s letter of resignation. I guess he didn’t hear that she dumped Brad? (Apparently he didn’t.)
She asked Tom if she has a reason to stay in Africa. Keira, you just were all impassioned with Brad not treating her with respect, and then you have to say something dumb like that? Allie seems to think that everything will work out because Keira and Tom like each other, but that seems to be very Pollyanna-ish. But whatever, we like you, Allie.
They’ve hit on a solution – partnering with the local village, instead of selling to Warrington. Apparently Twitter did save the reserve! Yay All Powerful Twitter! Screw You, Warrington! Why no one thought of this solution 45 minutes ago is painful to understand. Everyone is happy and there’s more singing. Keira is wearing a very pretty dress. And then we have one final scene with Tom and Keira, and I just don’t buy them as a couple. At All. But they kiss and it’s over. Done.
This was a gorgeous movie to watch. It would probably have been better to watch it with the sound off, except I would have missed all the singing. Maybe one day I’ll see these locations for reals, and not just on TV. Who knows. Till then, I was glad to see them on this grey afternoon, just so you don’t have to.