What We Did on Our Holiday

"Excellent"

What We Did on Our Holiday Review


Although its story easily could have spun right off the rails, this British comedy uses earthy honesty to win the audience over. The filmmakers also refuse to shy away from things that are usually taboo in family movies, like marital problems, sexuality and mortality. And by never indulging in wacky slapstick or trite moralising, the movie makes the point that sometimes the worst thing we can do to our kids is try to protect them from what's really happening.

The story starts in London, as Abi and Doug (Rosamund Pike and David Tennant) set off to drive north to the Scotland Highlands for the 75th birthday of David's father Gordy (Billy Connolly). They've told their three hilariously overactive kids Lottie, Mickey and Jess (Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and Harriet Turnbull) not to say anything to anyone about their crumbling marriage. And when they arrive it's clear that everyone has something they don't want to talk about. Gordy is avoiding conversations about his terminal cancer, while David's brother Gavin (Ben Miller) and his wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) are also covering up facts from their recent past. Then on a day trip to the beach, the holiday takes a startling turn.

Where the film goes from here hinges on the actions of three children under 10 years old, and all three actors are terrific, creating believable characters who are bursting with individualistic personalities. Watching them try to decode the adult world around them is thoroughly engaging, with the humour lightly balanced by some darker truths. Meanwhile, the grown-up cast get to play the more obviously comical moments, including a few rather too-broad gags. But each of them keeps their character in focus, never letting them tip over into cartoonish silliness. Pike, Tennant and Connolly are all terrific, with pointed support from Miller and Bullmore, plus Imrie as a rather too-knowing social worker.

Writer-directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins (who are also behind the somewhat wackier TV series Outnumbered) are adept at keeping the tone light while exploring some very serious issues. And the Highlands add an eye-catching visual touch, providing a meaningful background to everything that happens on this eventful multi-generational vacation. As the script circles around to become a lively and knowing exploration of family connections, there's sometimes the feeling that it's touching on some huge themes in a way that's somewhat glib. But the actors and filmmakers continually avoid both melodrama and mawkishness, so the end result is thoroughly entertaining and even quietly moving. And the themes manage to get under the skin too.



What We Did on Our Holiday

Facts and Figures

Genre: Comedy

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Friday 26th September 2014

Distributed by: BBC Films

Production compaines: LionsGate, BBC Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 78%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andy Hamilton,

Producer: David M. Thompson, Dan Winch

Starring: as Doug, as Abi, as Gavin McLeod, Bobby Smalldridge as Mickey McLeod, Emilia Jones as Lottie McLeod, as Gavin McLeod

Also starring: ,

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