Love on Safari
Lacey Chabert – Kira Slater
Jon Cor – Tom Anderson
Kira is an unadventurous web designer who lives and works in Chicago. The movie opens on her conversation with a co-worker, Vicki, who just got back from vacation where she swam with sharks.
Kira says she would never go into the water with sharks, because she is self-admittedly boring and bland. Instead, she is going to unexciting Scottsdale for her vacation.
Weirdly, she is going alone even though she has a boyfriend named Brad.
Brad visits Kira at her office.
Someone rushes past him and this annoys him for some reason. “It’s like a jungle in here! It’s so loud! How do you get anything done? My accounting department is nice and quiet.”
This is Brad. If you don’t speak softly, he will end you.
Brad says he will have a wonderful birthday surprise waiting for her when she gets home from Scottsdale. Yeah, I‘ve heard that one before.
Oh No! Kira’s Great Uncle Irving passed away. He owned a wildlife reserve in South Africa where Kira used to visit as a child. She doesn’t remember him well enough to cry so she will wrinkle her forehead in grief.
Not even a sniffle?
She needs to fly to South Africa for the reading of the will since he has left something to her. Guess what Kira…it’s bigger than a breadbox!
Next scene: Africa! We are at the Ukuthula Reserve.
We meet Masi, the wise old African hotel manager, Ally, a spunky Park Ranger and Tom, the Head Ranger and all-around intense guy.
These three people are responsible for running Ukuthula more or less. But since the death of Uncle Irwin, apparently things are up in the air and funds are tight. Also, some loser rich guy named Artie Warrington is sniffing around the hotel looking to buy it.
When we first meet Tom, he seems pretty passionate about keeping the Reserve up and running and NOT selling it to Artie Warrington who will turn it into “a tourist trap that is not authentic.” I do not understand what this means. Both he and Artie cater to tourists and both of them show off wildlife, right?
How do you do this in a way that is not authentic? Do you lure the lions with steaks? Does he use highly trained circus elephants?
My first impressions of Tom...kind of a complainer.
Back to Kira, she has decided to go to South Africa instead of Scottsdale! However, Brad is still not coming.
Yeah, she needs to break up with Brad immediately.
Kira white knuckles the flight because she is boring and bland and that is what boring people do.
Tom and Ally meet her at the plane and introduce themselves. I couldn’t really hear Ally’s last name, I think it’s Foxbird which is very animal-y. Although in keeping with the African theme I think they should have used Ally Hippobuffalo.
Kira arrives at Ukuthula and greets Masi warmly. They remember each other from when she was a little girl. Then Kira and Tom fight over carrying in her luggage, so he lies and tells her they need to check it for spiders to scare her into backing off. Wait a minute…isn’t it Tom’s job to make people fall in love with animals? Tom is “not authentic” when it comes to spiders.
Also, Kira is not adventurous enough to carry around luggage in Africa. C’mon cupcake, man up.
I’ll need some quinine and all the sunscreen you got!
Also, which color mosquito will murder me?
The hotel is bomb.
Next scene: Dinner time.
Tom tells her that he will take her out the next day to explore more of the savannah and Masi recites an old African proverb – “You should return to old watering holes for more than water, friends and dreams are there to meet you.”
Kira says she overate and goes to bed. TMI Kira - just say you are jet-lagged…we will believe you.
So far, the zebras are the star of this movie.
In the morning they go to meet with the lawyer for the reading of the will. They go by truck to an outdoor table to eat next to a watering hole where lions should show up any minute. Apparently, it is what Uncle Irving wanted - a blood bath.
Ohh..do I smell bacon?
Also, why is Kira wearing a long sleeve sweater in Africa? Someone better keep an eye on her in case she passes out.
The lawyer just informed Kira that she got full ownership of the preserve! So here is Lacey Chabert’s very mild shocked expression. On a scale of 1 to 10 for shock this is about a 2. I look like this when the UPS guy rings my doorbell and I don’t have any pants on.
However Tom, who has worked at Ukuthula for over ten years, got a bag of whistles. I am not joking. Uncle Irwin super sucks at giving away his s***.
Can someone please get this poor man a tissue?
The lawyer gives Kira the offer from Warrington and Tom gets even more upset since she is seriously considering this option. He tells Ally they need to find a way to keep Kira from selling, so he is going to make Kira fall in love….….with the Reserve. (wink! wink!)
Ally laughs at this plan and says that would that require him to be charming.
Kira calls her boyfriend, Brad for advice and he says SELL IT, because the sooner she gets rid of the Reserve the sooner she can come home to her fantastic surprise.
She walks up to Ally and Tom and says she is jet-lagged and famished. Thanks for the info Kira, I have eczema on my back, should we discuss that to?
Surprise! Tom has a really nice lunch planned for Kira. He drives her to Rock Lodge and brings a picnic basket to what looks like a beautiful patio area. It is also at ground level and seems completely unprotected from animal attack, but what do I know?
Tom immediately starts talking about how she can keep Ukuthula, but Kira cuts him off to set him straight.
“Tom, I have a life in Chicago, I don’t have the money, and this is too adventurous for me. Don’t you get it that I’m as boring as a lettuce sandwich?
Seriously, I’m a snorefest.”
“I think we should just go back to the lodge.” says Kira, and stalks back to the car. Stupid move Tom. You should have fed her first.
Uh oh, car won’t start! Walkie talkies won’t work! They’re stranded!
Now normally, in a Hallmark when people get stranded like this it’s all good because it leads to a romantic moment. However, in this movie I am literally just waiting for a rhino to charge the car.
Tom tells Kira to remain calm and follow procedure, which is to wait for hours until someone at the lodge notices they are missing. Wow, great emergency procedure. It reminds me of the “emergency procedure” in Jurassic Park when all the fences failed and everyone got eaten.
However, they do end up going back to the patio and talking. Just like in every other Hallmark movie. Whew…that was a close one.
Finally, Ally comes by to get them, and as they watch the last of the sunset Tom gives Kira the side eye of interest.
The next morning Tom drives Kira to Johannesburg so she can meet with Artie to discuss his offer. She is wearing a white dress and a long scarf which I am not a fan of since it looks like she is graduating from college.
Tom gives Kira advice before she goes in to meet Artie,
but I totally missed it since he looks like this.
The hotel has tables that are literally in a pool, so you can eat and have drinks with your feet in the water. Cool idea, but since people spill things and make crumbs, maybe not such a cool idea.
Please remove your shoes to meet with me.
And if you haven’t had a pedicure recently, there’s the door.
Kira tells Artie that she wants to make sure the sale of the property is in Ukuthula’s best interest. Warrington says he understands what makes Ukuthula special, and he is going to keep it that way. After these extremely vague reassurances she simply says, “Great! I am sure everything will be fine, but I do have to go over the offer with the lawyers.“
That’s it - that’s the meeting, and she came to it completely unprepared. She didn’t bring the contract, evidently she hasn’t even reviewed the offer with her lawyer yet, and they do not discuss any details. What a complete waste of time.
Also, the script writers did not do Kira’s character any favors here, since she comes across about as hard hitting as a doughnut hole.
On the way home, Tom takes her to a village where a lot of the staff live. He explains to Kira that it can be economically tough for African villages these days, especially the ones that are not partnered with Reserves, and that it is common practice now for villages to actually own part of a Reserve. They get invested in protecting the land and the animals and there are tax breaks.
Tee hee! What’s a tax break? Do you like my dress?
Although I don’t understand how this business model would work at all, I will just swallow it down like yucky medicine and accept it…for this is the Hallmark way.
They go to hear some village school children singing, and Tom says Uncle Irwin built the school because he knew the kids were the future of Ukuthula. Ugh! More ambiguous statements that are not explained!
However, it is pretty apparent that this village is the answer they have been looking for to save the Reserve. Tom has actually stated exactly what they need to do which is “partner with a village.” Did he not hear himself? Are we seriously going to have to go through more ups and downs in this movie until Kira remembers what he just said, and takes all the credit for the solution? Sigh. One hour and seventeen minutes left in the movie so apparently, yes…we will.
Next Kira goes with Ally, Tom and another couple to see some lions. Here is how close they come to them in an open vehicle. A million bucks says this is the car that broke down earlier. Do these people not get that the only thing saving their lives right now is a problematic car?
Kira asks Ally, “Are you really sure it’s okay if we are this close to the lions?” and Ally says, “Oh sure, they are really chill.” FYI as she is speaking here is how the two lionesses are looking at the car.
Now would be a good time to go.
Hi Guys! Please enjoy your last few seconds of life.
Also, why is this woman wearing pearls?
Of course, in the end everyone survives, (hello! It’s a Hallmark), and as they arrive back at the hotel, Ally tells Kira that Tom got offered a job in the New York to head up a wildlife conservation group. At this point Kira also learns the vital information that Tom is Ally’s step brother and NOT her boyfriend as she first thought. Now there remains only her pesky boyfriend Brad to vilify and discard, and the path can be totally cleared for true love!
Later that night Tom comes by when she is working on the computer, and she shows him the new Ukuthula web site she has created which seems a little plain to me. Shouldn’t you have animals on your home page if that is why people will visit Ukuthula? Kira is a mediocre web designer.
In her defense she did spell Ukuthula correctly.
Tom says he is “blown away” by her extremely simplistic website design and Kira responds that she is hoping she can run the site from Chicago. Tom looks crestfallen at the news that she will be leaving, but he hides it and gets up to go.
Kira stops him. “Hey Tom…” He turns back… Will she say something meaningful? Intimate? Kira whispers, “Goodnight.” Sheesh…this writing is a snorefest.
I am tres beautiful in the moonlight, no?
Kira has a conversation with Ally and we find out that tomorrow is her birthday.
Following this, Kira tries to explain to Masi why she can’t keep Ukuthula. “You know I can’t keep it right? I’d be so lost here.”
Masi answers her with a proverb: “To get lost is to learn the way.”
Hmmm…maybe. Or to get lost is to end up in a completely different city, but maybe that’s just me.
The next day Tom drives Kira to see the specific elephant that she remembers from her youth.
He gets a photo of Kira with the elephant in the background and she hugs it out with him.
Wow, is he happy to get a half-hug from a girl or what?
Guess what’s waiting for you back at the hotel Kira!
That’s right…Mr. Dependable.
Literally the first thing we hear him say after “Surprise!” is, “It’s so hot here, please tell me the rooms have air conditioning.” Dude, if you came to complain. Please leave.
Brad says he is her birthday surprise. Geez, this dude thinks a lot of himself. Doesn’t he see her like every day back in Chicago? How is seeing him here equivalent to a birthday present? Whatever. I’d rather have a watch.
Brad says he is also here to help her get the sale done and he’s pretty adamant that she sell to Artie. “Trust me,” he says, “I’m Spreadsheet Guy.”
Uh Brad, in case you hadn’t noticed, you need to up your game from “Spreadsheet Guy” and fast. Did you not just meet the male model, Ranger Tom, that Kira has been hanging out with all week?
They go on an excursion the next day and boy can Brad sweat! This is how close they get to zebras and ostriches and he doesn’t even notice. He just complains about the heat and asks how much further they have to go.
Brad is about to vomit in this one.
In Spreadsheet Guy’s defense, Tom and Ally do have a car that they have used constantly up to now, so what’s with the long hot trek in the bush? Brad is wearing a button-down office shirt on the hike for crying out loud, so he was obviously not prepared for this.
They finally get to the viewpoint and Kira says, “Isn’t it beautiful? And Brad replies, “Yes, but so is Chicago on a summer morning. You can see these animals in the zoo.”
What a douche bag. When Tom says the view is breathtaking, Brad throws him this look;
Also, Brad needs a haircut…any haircut.
Later, Tom sits down with Kira and has a talk with her in the garden while Brad is not around. She finds out important Hallmark details like: he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he wants marriage and kids, and he wants it with someone who loves this place as much as he does.
Kira responds to this information by saying, “This has been a weird week.”
WTF kind of segue was that? Was this script written in a week?
Uh oh, Brad walks by and sees them together! Talking! Laughing! D*** those cheekbones!
Brad goes to see Artie Warrington and says he is Kira’s financial advisor. I really don’t know why he does this since Warrington is already good to go on this deal.
Hi, I’m here to reiterate that Kira is thinking about signing your offer.
Kira gets the idea to ask Artie to partner with them on Ukuthula instead of buying it outright. She must go to Johannesburg to speak to him about this immediately!
She gives Brad a vague excuse that she “needs to take care of something” and leaves him at Ukuthula.
Question: Why doesn’t she tell him where she is going, or ask him to accompany her to Artie’s beautiful hotel in Johannesburg where he could sit in air conditioning and have a drink at the bar?
As you can see, he is not happy to be left alone.
The meeting with Artie is a bust. No deal. But Kira does find out that her “financial advisor” named Brad already came to see him. She is super pissed. See you back in Chicago Brad!
When she gets back to Ukuthula she starts looking for Brad to rip him a new one, but instead she stumbles into her surprise birthday party.
Not realizing how mad she is, Brad picks this moment to propose to her, and before she can answer him Tom walks out.
Kira tells Brad she needs someone who will respect her and who she can trust. She says she knows he went behind her back with Artie and then tells him they can talk about the proposal tomorrow.
The next day Tom admits to Ally that he is in love with Kira, (FYI they have known each other one week).
Meanwhile, Kira tells Brad it’s over.
You really need to give that shirt back to your grandfather.
Also, get a haircut. Also, it’s over.
Then she stays up all night redesigning the website again, (thank goodness), and uses Vicki’s internet followers to get it to go viral. So, I guess her solution is more reservations?
The next morning, she gets a resignation letter from Tom. He is leaving that night to take the job in New York. sniff.
Masi comes to tell Kira that the reservations are starting to flow in – her plan is working! Kira says, “Oh if we only had a partner… wait I just got a great idea that is all mine and no one else’s! I need to find Tom!”
Masi, have you ever heard the phrase, “It takes a village…”?
Cause that idea is straight legit bro.”
Kira finds Tom. Here is their conversation with edits for clarity:
Kira: Hey Tom, when a Reserve partners with a village what does that mean
Tom: Well, there are enormous financial benefits.
Kira: Hmm, that’s super vague and explains absolutely nothing about partnerships, but it sounds like money can happen.
Tom: Well it can’t hurt to speak to the chief. Let’s go!
They meet with the chief and the partnership happens. Kira also shares Ukuthula with all the staff. As expected, she gets all the credit.
“I can’t believe we got this done so fast! How did you come up with all of this Kira?” “Well Tom had mentioned partnerships earlier, and I just put 2 and 2 together and did it!”
Now Tom and Kira are alone together with a beautiful African view in the background.
Tom asks her if it was all worth the risk, and she says, “Definitely”.
Then he asks if she is up to taking another risk? On him. (sheesh.)
We end with the Hallmark trademark kiss-kiss-hug-lean shot.
● No one got eaten
● The scenery and animals really elevate this movie
● Not much chemistry between the two Leads
● The “partnership” solution was rushed and unclear
Credits: All photos, unless otherwise indicated, have come from the Hallmark Movie “Love on Safari”” which can be viewed on the Hallmark Channel