Review: 'What We Did on Our Holiday', Starring Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, and Billy Connolly
In a lot of ways, family films have turned into a way to take the kids to an appropriate film, but doesn't always prove entertaining for their parents. This is simply because many films put the focus of one or the other: the parents or the children. What We Did on Our Holiday is proof that a film can be fun for the whole family, heartfelt, and a lesson in crossing the communication barriers between all involved.
Doug's (David Tennant) father Gordie (Billy Connolly) is celebrating his birthday with a party and lots of guests, which will surely be something to remember. Except this may be the last birthday he shares with his family because of his cancer. So Doug and Abi (Rosamund Pike) pack up their kids Lottie, Mickey, and Jess (Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge, and Harriet Turnbull) from London to Glasgow, forcing their kids to promise not to say anything about their impending divorce. As if the constant and loud fighting wouldn't tip anyone off. Adults are funny that way. Their eldest daughter, who is close to her grandfather, wonders why she's being forced to lie and how can anyone communicate with the other if one is always lying? Fair question.
Deciding to take the kids out for the day to get away from all the yelling and bickering between all the adults, Gordie takes his grandchildren to the beach. But when something unexpected happens while away from the house, certain decisions are forced to be made that will usher in unprecedented consequences and quite possibly bring everyone together and remind them of what's important.
At first glance, the film may strike you as the kind that has a bickering, can't stand each other anymore couple, who will somehow and miraculously come together in the end because of the family trip. No, What We Did on Our Holiday is not that kind of movie. And gratefully so. It explores the dysfunctional family through the children, without completely neglecting the adults, and is intent on teaching us that listening to one another's needs is something most important. The film has charm and humor. Its climax and story resolution aren't heavy-handed, and while some of its aspects can be a bit cliche, it does well to steer away from the usual story elements that would have otherwise accelerated the film into the realm of the mundane.
David Tennant and Rosamund Pike take turns ripping into each other's throats the entire time and thankfully don't miraculously decide to work things out like most films of this sort often do. Their relationship is grounded in the problems that plague many couples, and while it isn't explored too much, we get the gist of what's going on between them--most of it being told in an amusing back-and-forth scene between the couple and their children. Billy Connolly is the cool granddad, taking life slow and enjoying what he can, and the relationship he has with his eldest granddaughter is one of mutual respect and an outlet for the both of them among their several problematic family members. Ultimately, you'll surprisingly find What We Did on Our Holiday to be heartwarming and good to watch with your entire family.