What We Did On Our Holiday: Movie Review
Cast: David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Billy Connolly, Ben Miller, Celia Imrie
Director: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin
The producers of Brit comedy Drop The Dead Donkey and (perhaps more relevantly) Outnumbered essentially produce another version of Outnumbered with a parallel cast.
Dr Who star David Tennant and Gone Girl Rosamund Pike star as Doug and Abi, who are about to head their separate ways and more pressingly to Scotland for Doug's father Gordy's birthday.
As the duo - along with three kids - pack up and head north, the inevitable tensions begin to rear their heads. Convincing the children not to say anything about the separation has varying degrees of success, but when the family hits the homestead, it soon becomes clear that Gordy's health is deteriorating quickly - and any revelations will hasten his potential demise.
Cue the predictable cracks, exasperations and awkward moments that seem to plague British family get togethers and summer holidays within the UK...
What We Did On Our Holiday is very good at honing in on what it's like to be eminently British and how to behave during strained family outings. But it's plagued with moments which feel forced, an uneven tone that doesn't veer too closely to broad comedy or drama to be effective enough.
Using the old adage of "kids say the darndest things" at the worst moment, the trio of children are set up as wiser than their parents and unleash truth bombs and absurdities for maximum effect. However, it's a mix that doesn't quite gel unfortunately, given the wealth of talent involved.
Tennant is as watchable as ever, mixing a bit of OTT behaviour and drama; Pike is relatively straight-laced; and there's a certain tragic irony in seeing a maudlin Connolly play a man who's quite sick. The issue really with What We Did On Our Holiday is more one of tone; by not quite deciding whether to delve deep into farce or drama, the script feels all too predictable and inevitably mawkish (even with the occasional spontaneous reactions from the children) as the secrets and lies swirl around before bubbling over.
The central conceit that adults don't know enough and children do thanks to their innocence and all-seeing eyes, as well as explosive secrets coming out at inopportune family meetings just feels all too familiar and lacks the freshness to give What We Did On Our Holiday an edge or bite that it desperately needs as it teeters between pathos and tragedy.
A final act resolution jars and feels unnatural in places thanks to the pacing of beforehand, but there are bittersweet moments and performances in What We Did On Our Holiday which help you through - and may even provoke a feeling of familiarity.