What We Did On Our Holiday

What We Did On Our Holiday

(PG) Starring: David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Billy Connolly

We were in the need of a laugh. Most of the films released in the past few months have been heavier dramas or big action flicks. What We Did On Our Holiday looked like a bit of family fun, as it centred on Doug (David Tennant), his wife Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travelling to the Scottish Highlands for the 75th birthday of Doug’s father Gordy’s (Billy Connolly). Beautiful scenery and the prospect of a family reunion should set this film up for a joyous occasion, but family dysfunction is front and centre, all the way. In the manner that only

Although done countless times throughout cinema history, tales of dysfunctional families have provided great comedic material. But while writer-director duo Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin Highlands place their tale in the picturesque Highlands and on the shores of the cold, clear North Atlantic ocean, this film is tepid, at best.

Tennant and Pike seem miscast. There is no chemistry between their two lead characters, even with the threat of imminent divorce. The only saving grace, for their on-screen relationship, is the three children. This trio moves What We Did On Our Holiday beyond the ordinary, to being an appealing story. They are given the best lines and serve as the adhesive that holds the family together. Until the introduction of Gordy (Billy Connelly), they are the ones who add the comedic timing that can lift the clouds from this dark comedy.

Gordy provides hope for the film, but Connolly seems to be held back from exploring his role further. Allowing Connolly to run on with his style of comedy would have added laughs that could have turned this film into an endearing comedy. Due to the serious themes, it is understandable this was never meant to be a laugh-out-loud experience. But Hamilton and Jenkin keep on including comedic portions, which can result in viewers feeling awkward about what .

The film had positive moments and does provide some endearing family experiences. But for each positive moment, there is a bizarre, negative counterbalance that defuses any momentum. Like the unexplained addition of ostriches in the Highlands, this story is left with too many loose ends to make it a satisfactory experience. Missing the mark in the realm of comedy, What We Did On Our Holiday opens the door to a multitude of deeper discussions. The innocence of the children provide some of the best philosophical and theological components of the film. The dialogue between the children and their grandfather made room for heartwarming and humorous moments that allow for deeper considerations.

Leaving the cinema…

This film had the potential to be a wonderful family comedy. But like being left in a boat without oars on the waters of the Highlands, it’s easy to become bored, with too much time to think about what’s not to like. Plus, even with the best roles being played by seniors and children, the language and adult themes of What We Did On Our Holiday do not make it suitable for children.

 What are the bigger questions to consider from this film?

  1. What happens after death? (John 11:25, 1 Corinthians 15:51-57)
  2. What value does marriage have on our society? (Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7,8)
  3. Are all gods the same? (John 14:6, Acts 4:12)

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger


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