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Film Review – What We Did On Our Holiday

3 min read

Loosely based off the British television series Outnumbered, What We Did on Our Holiday is a delightful, if not somewhat disconnected comedy about the trials and tribulations of family life. This always seems to be a great narrative for some laughs, especially when child actors are involved. Yet most of the humour does fall short of the mark, wasting many valuable opportunities to really drive the point home.

Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) McLeod are the separated parents of three very different, yet all endearing children Lottie (Emilia Jones), Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) and Jess (Harriet Turnbull). They’re headed to Doug’s father Gordy (Billy Connolly) birthday in Scotland, and presenting a united front in the process so as not to steal the spotlight. But Doug’s pretentious brother Gavin (Ben Miller) and his ordinary wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) manage to do just that, with a rivalry between brothers threatening to rise to the surface. When its revealed patriarch Gordy has terminal cancer, the family band together (as they are prone to do) to give Gordy the birthday celebration he really desires, and learn some valuable lessons about life and love along the way.


Although this isn’t necessarily a ‘kids’ movie, the majority of laughs come from the youngsters, given the somewhat improvised nature of the acting when kids say the most highly inappropriate things, therefore resulting in obvious gags. Clearly they were given somewhat a free reign to say the first things that pop into their mind, and while there were many easy laughs, it did distract from the more sarcastic, mature undertones that the adults were trying to convey. What We Did on Our Holiday does have a message that is pretty easy to comprehend, yet the kids seemingly lack of direction undermined that message to a certain degree.

The best thing about this film hands down is Connolly’s performance as the terminal Gordy, who’s zero care factor about his birthday and his attempts at getting his family back together was marvellous. I can’t say I have seen Connolly in anything other than a comedy, and yes I am aware this is in fact a comedy. But the film has a deeper meaning than what is the norm for the Scottish comedian. It was great to actually see him possess qualities other than a great punchline, and here’s hoping we see more of this kind of work from Connolly in the future.

The Scotland backdrop is nothing short of breath taking, with many grand, roving shots creating an almost conflicting setting against the jarring limitations married and familial life can have on people. The landscape is definitely a character in itself, and without it, I don’t think the film would be able to convey the strong message it does, as it seemed to almost lend itself to the powerful freedom of love and loss that is the main theme of the movie (It should be noted that I am perfectly aware of the complete and utter sappiness of that sentence, but chose to include it anyway)

This isn’t a film that is going to generate large quantities of success, but that doesn’t necessarily matter in the grand scheme of things because it is a valuable addition to the family comedy database, regardless of box office figures. What We Did On Our Holiday is a perfect summation of family, love them or hate them they’re yours and deep down none of us would really have it any other way.

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