Bastions of British comedy Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins found their biggest mainstream success with Outnumbered. For their first venture into the feature film they have cautiously stuck to the formula that worked so well, kids say the darnedest things and adults roll their eyes and shout at each other. What We Did on Our Holiday – a title that I’ve said about a dozen variations off when talking about – sees parents Doug & Abi (David Tennant & Rosamund Pike) as a couple on the verge of divorce, they pack their three children up to Scotland for Doug’s fathers birthday. Doug’s Dad being Billy Connolly basically doing what Billy Connolly does which is be whimsical, sarcastic and full of life.
Also present is Ben Miller as Doug’s brother – the business minded ruthless one in the family who is maddened no end by the children’s annoying antics. Much like Outnumbered the films strength lies with the adults interaction with the children. The opening car journey is filled with a host of one liners and nostalgia as parents and kids with memories of these marathon car trips will find much to relate too. Tennant and Pike make for a suitably bitchy couple. Pike in particular shows early signs of the magnificence she would go on to in Gone Girl. Tennant for his part does his wide-eyed every-man role, which depending on your feelings you will find either wholly irritating or classic David. Which really is what the film comes down to. Depending on your feelings toward kids-led comedies you could find yourself barrelling around laughing at the children’s one liners or pray for the film to end.
The story takes a slightly odd tonal shift half way through the film – verging on Notes From A Scandal indictment of the press and procedural that seems to come out of nowhere. Drama begins to outweigh the frothy comedy from the first half. Larger questions about life, love and the meaning of familial relationships are put under the microscope. Once in a while the lighter jokes creep in and they suddenly feel out of place and at worse a little cheesy.
Everyone in the cast seems to be enjoying themselves and put on a good show of it. Neither a fully light hearted family comedy and not quite the family drama it aims to be toward the end it floats somewhere between the two. Depending on your mood you’ll find something in What We Did on Our Holiday to enjoy, whether it’s a few laughs or a few tears.
What We Did on Our Holiday is available on DVD and Blu-Ray now via Lionsgate