Love On Safari

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In probably the final Lacey Chabert movie I’ll be talking about until next Christmas, we needed a departure from the cold weather. Christmas is festive and all, but there’s only so much snow and smiles one man can take while trapped inside during a pandemic and looking beyond the living room window and seeing only a grim and stricken wasteland of desiccated trees and muddy pastures. I needed some sun, damn it, and Lacey was going to give it to me. Luckily, she just so happened to have made a movie set (and shot on location) in the scorching African sun. Plus – giraffes!

We begin as we always do with these reviews – Lacey plays a successful 30 something woman in the big city – casual boyfriend, strong teeth, decent career – but there’s still something lacking. Out of the blue she receives the tragic news that her (I want to say Uncle) last remaining relative has passed away and that her presence as been requested in Africa to discuss the Will. Expecting some arbitrary ornament or antique trinket from the childhood holidays she spent in her uncle’s wildlife reserve in Africa, she takes the opportunity to take a break from the monotony of her daily life and get some sun. Meanwhile, the staff and locals of said Wilflife Reserve are in turmoil because of their loss, knowing that if somebody cannot stump up the funds to buy and look after the Reserve that an uncaring chain is going to swoop in and usurp the place, sucking out its soul and converting it into another upmarket hotel chain for snobby types. You see where this is going, right?

Lacey meets the staff, some of whom she remembers from childhood, others she might just feel a little under-camo-trouser-tingling for. She (but nobody else) is shocked to hear that her uncle has left the Reserve, the hotel, the animals, the land, in her name leaving her torn between selling to the only available buyer, or somehow giving up her life in the USA to tackle a way of living and business she has almost zero experience of. It’s a dilemma further complicated by her growing love for the place, her increasing affection for a particular staff member, and the sudden appearance of her boyfriend from back home. Giraffes!

It’s another sweet Chabert tale which isn’t going to offend or challenge anyone, and whose soul aim is to leave you feeling warm and snuggly. My wife didn’t think much of it and much preferred the more traditional Christmas fare, while I was more than happy for the change of scenery. If they had not filmed this on location, the film wouldn’t have the same impact. It’s a gorgeous location and a timely reminder to all of us to not screw up this little planet we find ourselves on. For a film of this type, it does an admirable enough job of throwing spanners into the works, but there’s never any real threat that everything isn’t going to turn out perfectly. Lacey is as watchable as ever, the surrounding cast are fine – it is getting a little tiresome watching Lacey fall in love with all of these different archetypal ideal men, but that’s probably why we only ever watch one or two of these vehicles each Christmas. It goes for that same charming gentle romance and humour that all these movies go for – if this were a British comedy, you know the lead male love interest would be somewhat more foppish, and you know that at some point Lacey would have to stumble backwards and fall into an elephant’s water trough. Thankfully she, and we, are spared such indignities. If you’re looking for something slightly different in look and location from Lacey’s standard festive movies, give it a shot.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Love On Safari!

Family For Christmas

25 Days of Christmas Movies: #14 — Family for Christmas – The Main Damie

Another day, another Lacey Christmas movie. Family For Christmas surprised me. It takes a turn I wasn’t expecting, and it is directed by Samantha Carter herself (Amanda Tapping). It’s still very much in that Hallmark space, but there’s a little touch of extra quality, and enough silly humour I hadn’t planned for that I found myself laughing along.

As is par for the course, Lacey Chabert stars as a successful career woman who faces a challenge at Christmas. When the film opens, she is a young woman just setting off to the big city and leaving her boyfriend behind, promising she’ll think of him every day and that their relationship is built to last. Flashforward ten years and all thoughts of her boyfriend and suburban upbringing are gone. She is now a hard-hitting, award winning reporter, entirely career driven and not particularly keen on Christmas, kids, romance, or family. She’s not a Scrooge or a Grinch – she simply has her own goals and priorities. At her office Christmas party, she is briefly reminded of her old boyfriend and wonders what he’s up to. Enter a strange and mystic-speak Santa who offers some cryptic pleasantries for her to ponder on. The next morning, she wakes up only to find herself in a new bed, in a new house, with a ring on her finger, a husband, two kids, and a list of soccer mom tasks to complete. WTF?

There is an odd tradition of Christmas movies and stories flipping into other dimensions and possible timelines from A Christmas Carol to It’s A Wonderful Life to Groundhog Day. We follow in this vein, as Lacey finds herself trying to figure out why she is now married to her old flame, why her old job has been taken by one of her subordinates, why none of her colleagues recognize her, and how to figure out a housewife’s schedule. There’s a lot of gentle, mocking humour as Lacey struggles to get her bearings, make small talk with neighbours she is supposed to be besties with, and love children she didn’t know existed the day before. This being Hallmark, it’s not done in a cynical matter (you can choose to read between the lines about what the story may or may not be saying about a woman’s place in the world) and you know it’s all going to work out in the end. For Lacey’s character though, just as she is getting comfortable with her new life and understanding what love and family can be like, she is switched back to her original life with her husband and kids and sweet picket fence life potentially wiped from existence. She has a choice to make.

If I have any real issue with the film it’s that it doesn’t really give valid reasons along the way for the choices Lacey’s character makes. There’s no valid reason given for Hannah suddenly forgetting this person she supposedly loves, though I concede this was on purpose. There’s no valid reason given for why she would, after ten years of working, realize after a couple of days that she wants a family – beyond the simple interactions with a loving husband and cute kids. I got the impression that, if something else came along she might just as easily abandon her family and hop on the new bandwagon. That’s nowhere near the intent of the film, but I found some of the inspiration and thought behind character choices unconvincing. These aren’t films to usually discuss script or directing, but it’s easily a step above the normal Hallmark fare in terms of story, and Amanda Tapping does a confident, non-flashy job.

It’s another sweet Hallmark movie, with the caveat being that you may actually remember this one. I expect plenty of people will be put off by the apparent message that a woman’s place is at home – not that I fully buy that this is what the film is saying – but for a simple family oriented Christmas movie you could do much much worse.

Pride, Prejudice, And Mistletoe

Pride, Prejudice and Mistletoe: Charming and Full of Heart! | The Silver Petticoat Review

One thing my wife and I do every year at Christmas, is watch Lacey Chabert Christmas movies. I was a big Party Of Five fan growing up, and she was too, so we share a kind of Lacey appreciation which comes in handy at this time of the year. See, while I want to watch Die Hard or Rare Exports, she wants to watch some romantic muck I can’t abide. With me being a huge movie nerd and her…. not… we just fell into this tradition as something we can both agree upon to watch. We both know the movies are never going to be good but we can at least hope they are festive and happy and snowy and get us into the Christmas spirit. In 2020, we watched a few of these which we hadn’t seen before, starting with Pride, Prejudice, And Mistletoe.

The thing to be aware of with these movies – they’re all TV movies and are more often than not Hallmark productions. You know exactly what you’re going to get – rich white Americans with great careers, families, and friends suffer some sort of minor mishap at the end of the year, which ends up with them finding romance and living happily ever after. They’re not Cinema, so be prepared for simple plot, simple characters, not the greatest performances, and little interest given to music, direction, cinematography etc. I think Lacey is a fantastic actress who should be appearing in more mainstream and more significant works, but I completely respect the groove she is in – she’s found what she loves doing. That said, I wouldn’t be watching any of these movies if she wasn’t in them.

Lacey stars as Darcy (get it) Fitzwilliam, a rich white American with a great job, who has so far been unlucky in love. She has recently ended a relationship with a seemingly ideal man who works for her father’s Company – even though they fit from the outside, there’s that spark missing for Darcy. She heads home for Christmas to help her family who are running some sort of fundraiser for a local charity by selling fashionable Christmas trees (?), and they’re running the event out of their house (?). The only event I run from my house at Christmas is putting boards over the doors and windows so that no-one wants to visit.

Turns out the bloke who is catering the event is an old school rival of Darcy’s – a man called Luke Bennett (get it). They aren’t happy about having to work together at first, but it turns out they have more in common than they thought, and before long we’re treated to a steamy 14 minute nude scene which heavily features tinsel wrapping around things they weren’t supposed to. Possibly that last piece was in my imagination, but I’m almost positive it happens soon after the credits roll. In any case, you know they’re going to fall in love despite the measly obstacles in their way.

It’s not particularly festive even though it’s set at Christmas, but seeing the big houses and trees and scarves and snow and decorations and lights still puts a morsel of cheer in my heart. It’s not any better or worse than any of these types of movies and you probably won’t remember if you’ve seen it or not by the time Christmas rolls around again. There’s little or nothing to do with Jane Austin, most of the performances you won’t care about, but at least there is time spent on Luke as an individual with aspirations and a history when in most cases the love interest doesn’t get much consideration beyond looking pretty.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve seen this one!