Film Review – “What We Did On Our Holiday” (Directors: Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin)

Doug and Abi McLeod are taking their three children to see Doug’s father, Gordie, for his 75th birthday which may seem suprising because Doug and Abi are in the midst of an acrimonious divorce.  The children are under instructions not to tell their grandfather about the divorce due to his ill health.  What follows is a holiday that involves bickering and sniping between not only Doug and Abi but also with his social climbing brother Gavin, who has organised a big party for Gordie.   But an incident happens in the lead up to the birthday which will not only affect Doug and Abi, but the family as a whole.


Having been a fan of the series “Outnumbered”, I was eager to watch this film.  It also helped that the cast includes an array of acting talent including David Tennant, Rosamund Pike, Billy Connolly, Ben Miller, Amelia Bullmore and Annette Crosbie.

Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin both scripts and directs this film and it is very much in the same mould of “Outnumbered” with the story based within a family and the children grabbing all the attention.  However, where the Brockmans of “Outnumbered” was a relatively stable, if unusual family, the McLeods have their fair share of dysfunctionality with Gordie probably being the only “normal” person in the family for various reasons.

There are three storylines that intertwine with each other to make a story that treats to viewers with belly laughs and moments of sadness throughout, whilst giving us a cast of characters that are relatable, if a little exagerrated to “real life”.

Another area where this film really scores is the cinematography.  I have not been to the Scottish Highlands, but I’ll be eager to visit at some point in the near future thanks to the beauty of this film’s vistas.


David Tennant and Rosamund Pike make a great partnership in their portrayal of Doug and Abi.  They give performances of two people who have lost their way and are undergoing a painful divorce with the children caught in the middle.  However, Tennant and Pike’s performances helps the audience sympathise for and empathise with Doug and Abi as you can see under the solicitors and everything, they are two people who could get on with each other, but they’ve just grown apart – especially in the last act of the film.

Ben Miller gives a great portrayal in the role of Gavin.  He manages to sell the character of the family social climber as pompous, as opposed to obnoxious, which makes the character easy to laugh at rather than despise.  He wants the family to be seen in the best light with notable guests being invited to  Gordie’s party – despite Gordie’s obvious dislike for some of the guests invited.  That said, there is a moment in a family football match which will have Tennant fangirls up in arms.

Amelia Bullmore compliments Miller in her role of Gavin’s wife, Margaret.  Due to Gavin’s behaviour, you can see that Margaret has simply become a part of the furniture in his eyes and somebody to support his behaviour which makes Bullmore’s portrayal of Margaret’s moments of comedic violence all the more funnier.

But it’s Billy Connolly who should be given the laurels for the adult performances in his role of Gordie.  I’ve only really known of him as a comedian, but Connolly gives a wonderfully warm performance in the role of Gordie as the type of granddad that everyone would like in their family.  He knows more about the family than what they’re telling him, whilst he tells tall stories and relates to the younger family members with a mischievous twinkle in the eye.


All three of the children who portrays Doug and Abi’s give natural performances which err on the side of quirky and relatable as opposed to “stage school” precocious.  Emilia Jones gives a cracking performance as the eldest of the three siblings who is full of angst about the number of lies and facts that she has to keep in her head to the point the where she has to keep a notebook and who becomes the “leader” for the family in the film’s third act. whilst Bobby Smalldridge gives an energetic performance as the son who loves Viking history thanks to his grandfather’s stories that he is decended from Vikings and Harriet Turnbull as the youngest daughter who can’t relax unless she carries a large rock and piece of breeblock with her along with a magpie like fascination for keys.


Whilst this is a film where the comedy derives from the dysfunction of family relationships, there is a dark vein of humour throughout, especially in the third act, with some jokes that could be seen as offensive, dependent on the audience.  However, the majority of the film’s humour comes from the McLeod’s relationships, which we can probably observe in any family.


A great film for the funny bone after a busy week at work.


Rating: Get In The Queue/Wait A While – Dependent on availability at your local cinema


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