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What We Did On Our Holiday - DVD Review

What We Did On Our Holiday

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

THE creators of hit BBC TV comedy Outnumbered turn their attention to the big screen with What We Did On Our Holiday, a hit-and-miss comedy that is ultimately saved by the performances of its game cast.

As with Outnumbered, this examines everyday family dynamics, no matter how dysfunctional, and divides its time between the stresses and strains of adulthood and the perceived innocence of childhood.

The story unfolds as Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) head up to the Scottish Highlands with their three children for a big family gathering to celebrate Doug’s father’s 75th birthday.

But matters are complicated by the fact that Doug and Abi are in the midst of a difficult divorce, which they want to keep secret, especially given that Doug’s father (played by Billy Connolly) has terminal cancer.

Hailed somewhat misleadingly as a feel-good family comedy, What We Did On Our Holiday is actually quite a bittersweet venture that has some unexpectedly dark twists in its make-up.

It’s also quite uneven in the way that it balances the comedy with the drama, often with the confines of a single scene. While the third act, in which everything gets speedily wrapped up for the ‘heart-warming finale’, feels rushed and hopelessly contrived – a big failing given the very real and spontaneous nature of the movie’s opening act.

That said, there is still much to enjoy, not least the chemistry between the cast members and some of the zingy one liners that are expertly delivered by the adults. Tennant and Pike build a believable relationship and do outraged and shocked very well, while Connolly dispenses pearls of wisdom in suitably thought-provoking fashion (making some valid points along the way).

The kids, too, are good value, especially early on when they repeatedly come out with lines to exasperate and bewilder the adults. It’s undoubtedly one of Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin’s great strengths in capturing the spontaneity of youth, as well as the way kids can land adults in trouble at the best of times with what they repeat and reveal.

It’s just a shame, therefore, that the film can’t maintain everything as it enters the last third. For having gone down a particularly dark path and opening up new, arguably unnecessary storylines, the film has trouble doing them all justice and struggles to recover the fresh and effortlessly enjoyable feeling of what had come before.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 95mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release Date: January 26, 2015