Life, death and family; the three seem to co-exist quite frequently when put together onscreen, and ‘What We Did On Our Holiday’ is no exception. Wonderfully British and ever-so-bittersweet, this comedy of errors focuses on separated couple Abi and Doug (Rosamund Pike and David Tennant), whose current relationship woes need little explaining with their three forthright children acting as a window into their situation.
Preparing to travel from London to Scotland to celebrate Doug’s father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) 75th birthday, potentially his last due to ailing health, the bickering duo need to do their best to play happy family to keep the peace – something near impossible with a trio of children seemingly incapable of not telling the truth.
One of those films that adopts a sitcom-like premise and manages to stretch it to feature length, and thankfully succeeds, ‘What We Did On Our Holiday’ grounds its outlandish humour and situations in heart and honesty, allowing us to observe our own lives in the process. After terrifying males the world over with her striking turn in last year’s ‘Gone Girl’, Pike proves she can play lovely just as well, although it’s hard not to feel cautious when her character starts getting angry at Tennant and you want to scream at him to run for the hills. Connolly is, as expected, a delight as he infuses Gordie with pearls of wisdom that are never without a touch of impertinent humour, and the children prove an absolute treat, behaving like real children without bordering on precociousness.
As the movie season unwinds from Oscar-bait overload and some little movie called ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, it’s a treat to know that there’s something genuinely enjoyable on offer that won’t make you think too hard, react too strongly or cause a fuss. It’s simple, it’s light, it’s utterly charming and it makes you wish that every family dysfunction could be solved so entertainingly.