Film review: What We Did On Our Holiday
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- Published on Monday, 22 September 2014 11:50
- Last Updated on 20 September 2014
- Freda Cooper
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On London Mums Magazine online last month, we previewed the British comedy, What We Did On Our Holiday, which arrives in cinemas this Friday, 26 September 2014. The trailer showed something uplifting and funny, with an appealing cast that includes David Tennant and Billy Connolly. And, with the writers of TV’s Outnumbered behind it as well, the omens were good.
But the finished article turns out to be a completely different film – and not in a good way!
Doug (Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children take off to Scotland for a long weekend to celebrate the 75th birthday of Doug’s father, Gordy (Connolly). An extravagant party has been organised by Doug’s pompous brother Gavin (Ben Miller), who lives in something close to a country mansion. But the inevitable family secrets complicate matters: Doug and Abi are living apart but are hiding the truth from Gordy – because he has terminal cancer.
The ingredients were all there, so what was not to like? As it turned out – and unfortunately for the makers – rather a lot.
It all started to go downhill not long after the ostrich appeared. The pesky bird keeps flitting across the screen from time to time and initially gets your interest because you think you’re in for something quirky. But after the fourth and fifth time, you’re losing patience and you just want to know why it’s there. The bad news is that it’s completely irrelevant. It’s one of a flock of ostriches that belongs to a friend of Gordy’s. And that’s all!
That ostrich is one of a string of potentially good ideas in the film that simply go nowhere. Middle child Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) is obsessed with Vikings: at the start of the film he’s watching the funeral at the end of The Vikings and has a poster of Odin on his wall, complete with eye patch. Later in the film, when all the guests arrive for Gordy’s party, there’s a tall man wearing an eye patch – Odin, as far as Mickey’s concerned. But does he get to meet his hero? Not a bit of it! So why waste time on all the build-up?
The film also commits the cardinal sin of being painfully unfunny. The mandatory swipes at easy targets like the media and politicians are supposed to generate some amusement but the only genuinely good gag is about Gavin’s “intelligent” house, which is controlled by technology. There’s no light switches: you just clap your hands accordingly and this makes a neat running joke but, like the rest of the film, even that is under-developed.
Mums’ rating: 4/10
How you react to What We Did On Our Holiday will probably depend on how you felt about Outnumbered. Directors/writers Any Hamilton and Guy Jenkin have taken a similar group of precociously savvy children and put them in a different situation on the big screen. If you liked the TV series, there’s a good chance you might like this as well. For all the film’s promise, though, the laughs are thin on the ground and the whole thing is woefully under-developed. It’s a sorry let-down.
What We Did On Our Holiday, certificate 12A, is released around the UK on Friday, 26 September 2014.
Film critic and radio presenter Freda Cooper has been a movie fan all her life – the best qualification for the job! A contributor to a number of film websites, she also presents her weekly podcast, Talking Pictures, a finalist in the UK Podcasters Awards. Her movie blog, formerly The Coops Review, is now also called Talking Pictures, and was shortlisted at this year’s UK Blog Awards. And you can hear her film reviews every Friday morning on BBC Surrey and BBC Sussex!