What We Did On Our Holiday

| October 5, 2015

Doug (David Tennant; Doctor Who) and Abby (Rosamund Pike; Gone Girl) can’t stand each other.  After years of marriage, the couple are living separately and it’s become obvious to their three children that their relationship will likely not get better, meaning a divorce is inevitable.  Despite their problems, the family try to hold things together for one final weekend while they visit Doug’s father (Billy Connolly; A Series of Unfortunate Events) for his 75th birthday.  Given the father’s declining health, it doesn’t look like he’ll make it to his next birthday, so everyone is gathering to celebrate his life, but have a hard time not fighting constantly.

I had no expectations for this movie.  I’m a huge fan of David Tennant’s work, and Rosamund Pike’s performance in Gone Girl last year blew me away so of course I jumped at the chance to see them together.  The end result is a really fun little intimate comedy with great characters, a lot of laughs, and a beautiful Scottish setting.

Even though Tennant and Pike drew me to the film, I feel like they were a bit underutilized here.  They’re both great and funny, and really feel like they’ve spent years cultivating a relationship only to watch it fall apart around them, but given what I’ve seen them both do on screen, it felt like these roles could have been filled by anyone.  Not to say that relationship feeling believable isn’t vital to the film and wouldn’t require two great actors to pull it off.

Actually, I found myself much more invested in the story of their three children.  From Mickey’s (Bobby Smalldridge) obsession with all things related to the Vikings and Norse mythology, to Lottie’s (Emelia Jones) incessant notetaking, to Jess’ (Harriet Turnbull) habit of stealing keys and holding her breath until she passes out, I found the children and the actors portraying them completely charming.  At first, those little character traits felt unimportant and forced, but as the movie plays out and builds to its climax, everything is revealed to have a purpose.

The comedy is really well executed throughout the film, which is basically all I’m looking for in a movie like this.  The jokes feel organic to the characters and are set up naturally, unlike in most American sitcoms I can name where one character will say something slightly out of character just to conveniently set up another character’s punch line.  Everything here just worked, and the comedy helped emphasize the tonal shifts of the fighting between the adults and vice versa.

Special features include deleted scenes, audio commentary, and a making of featurette.  Available on DVD from Lionsgate on October 6.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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