At face value What We Did On Our Holiday seems to be just another family film with all of the usual ‘zany’ tropes. You think you know what to expect of this British comedy and those expectations are pleasantly challenged.
The plot in itself is simple enough, the family embark on a summer trip from London to the Scottish Highlands to visit their grandfather (Scottish treasure Billy Connolly) and yet the 12A certificate hints at something much more than a one dimensional feel-good comedy and the film really delivers on different levels.
The familial bonds are intimately real, the children provide most of the comedic effect interacting with the cast with a quick-fire wit and dynamic conversation – most fitting, given the writer and director of this film to be none other than Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, the creators of Outnumbered.
Taking a different route from the upbeat tone of their BBC sitcom What We Did On Our Holiday does have it’s sombre moments, the broken relationship between the father (David Tennant) and the mother (Rosamund Pike) is a striking contrast to the film’s overarching light tone – but it works.
We are not given the cookie cutter family with the perfect life, but two adults trying to keep their family together whilst contemplating their divorce. The comedy is a welcome juxtaposition to the more sombre scenes of this film, it is modest and does not try for cheap laughs but instead plays on the ups and downs of life.
Perhaps this is what makes the film work so well – it plays on our humanity with an acceptance that life is never picture perfect; the emotions are real, the humour is well played and the acting is beyond reproach.
Offering a realistic familial tale whilst retaining an over-arching airy laughter, What We Did On Our Holiday is a refreshing step in the right direction for modern British comedy.