UK Release Date: 26th September 2014
Runtime: 95 minutes
Director: Guy Jenkin, Andy Hamilton
Writer: Guy Jenkin, Andy Hamilton
Starring: David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Billy Connolly, Emilia Jones, Harriet Turnbull, Bobby Smalldridge, Ben Miller
Synopsis: Despite their troubles, a divorcing couple must conceal their unhappiness for the sake of one of their fathers, who is battling cancer.
The guys behind Outnumbered, Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton, have been pressurised for years to produce a film adaptation of their beloved sitcom. What We Did On Our Holiday, cut from a very similar cloth, is pretty much the next best thing. However, due to some bizarre decisions and a confused script, it certainly never hits the heights of life with the Brockmans and their kids.
Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) are a couple on the verge of divorce, arguing on a daily basis. Travelling up to Scotland for the birthday of Doug’s father Gordie (Billy Connolly), they must hide their split from the extended family members who are present. Matters are complicated, however, by the unfiltered thoughts of their three kids.
For approximately half of its running time, What We Did On Our Holiday is a mildly entertaining, but incredibly conventional, family comedy. It’s exactly the film you would expect from the Outnumbered team, full of witty improvisation from kids and distressed bafflement from their parents.
| "I need a list of the lies we’re going to tell."
The film takes a turn for the insane at its middle point, with a sudden plot twist so remarkably out of place that it derails the entire thing. From then onwards, What We Did On Our Holiday has no idea of where to pitch its tone and completely loses its way. It struggles to squirm its way out of the mire of tragedy, with the few late laughs requiring an awful lot of hard, torturous work from the cast.
Fortunately for the film, that cast is full of comedic talent. Tennant and Pike do a great job as Hamilton and Jenkins’ trademark put-upon parents, with support from a gloriously over-the-top Ben Miller.
The real highlight, though, is Billy Connolly, whose performance is tender, wry and amusing. Channelling his real battles with Parkinson’s and prostate cancer, Connolly gives the film the emotional heft it desperately needs. He gets many of the film’s best lines and has great chemistry with the adorably precocious child cast members.
| "The truth is, every human being is ridiculous in their own way."
This is a prime example of a film that could’ve done with a little more of a conventional hand on the shoulder of the filmmakers. What We Did On Our Holiday becomes so bizarre and surreal that it completely loses sight of what it’s supposed to be.
By the time it takes a lazy and unrealistic swipe at the media, the film has strolled merrily away from the pathway of convention, into the forest of morbid, uncomfortable insanity.
Pop or Poop?
The team behind Outnumbered have clearly attempted to push the envelope with What We Did On Our Holiday. They deserve to be lauded for the high-risk strategy, but it simply doesn’t work and goes too far into the heart of darkness.
Outside of its strong performances and a witty opening act, there’s very little to love here.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.