Directors: Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins
Starring: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Ben Miller, Amelia Bullmore, Celia Imrie
Written by: Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins
Running Time: 95 mins
Release date: 26th September 2014
Fans of the hit TV comedy Outnumbered will probably find a welcoming place here in this charming British comedy, as it’s from Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins, the creators of said show. For the most part it has the same feel, the same level of humour and that relaxed, improvised approach that has made their show such a hit. Yet underneath the familiar lies a very different creature altogether, as they deal with weightier subject matters in their own unique style.
Abi and Doug are heading off to the Highlands to celebrate Doug’s father’s 75th birthday, along with their young children. The couple are hiding a lie. They are separated and on the verge of divorce, yet are putting on a brave face in order to make Gordie’s day, as he is dying of cancer. Yet, never trust children to keep a secret, esepcially to one they love so dearly.
This has every signpost of being a cheesey family comedy without half the wit and wisdom of Outnumbered but after the first 15 minutes, you forget Outnumbered even existed because where the family on the TV show were such a close-knit unit, here they are hanging onto a thread, as the children have to witness the constant bickering between their parents, something that they remind them not to do. Then as we are getting use to the children with their smart questions and even smarter answers, the film takes another surprising and unexpected turn.
This is the joy of What We Did On Our Holiday. You think it’s taking you down one road and it darts off in another direction. Hamilton and Jenkins give their cast plenty of room to improvise, sometimes to the point of catching the rest of the cast from laughing (one noticable moment has Doug almost choking on his tea).
What the film does best of all is handle a tricky subject (I’m not going to spoil it) and sees it from the point of view of its young cast, making it honest and thoughtful. It might come across as being bizarre but there is an underlining reverence about it. The directors have got into the mindset of a child and ran with it and yes, it might get criticised for it but it works beautifully.
The cast has to be talented and they certainly are. Rosamund Pike is always pleasing on the eye and as proved in Hector And The Search For Happiness, she can cope with comedy very well. David Tennant has managed to move away from the shackles of Doctor Who and has become almost a national treasure, with his laid-back approach and exuberant energy.
Where the film really wins through are the three children, Harriet Turnbull, Bobby Smalldridge and Emilia Jones. They bring a freshness to the improvised children’s chatter that was so greatly missed in the later episodes of Outnumbered and they are genuinely funny. They steal almost every scene they appear in, especially little Harriet, who has some of the best lines.
Finally there’s the great Billy Connolly as Gordie. His is a truly magical performance, a caring, charming, funny man who cannot believe what is happening around him and yet he loves nothing more than spending his time with his grandchildren. An extended sequence on a deserted beach is the highlight of the film and shows just how funny Mr Connolly is, as he banters with his young co-stars. It’s a beautiful, well realised performance .
What We Did On Our Holiday is a joy to behold. A delightful, funny comedy that will touch your heart. A feel-good treat which will make you shed a tear or two along the way. It probably won’t win any awards but it will sure win your heart.