|'Hamilton and Jenkin excel at writing comedy based on bickering and mildly outlandish everyday situations'|
Written and directed by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, the duo behind TV's Outnumbered, it's no surprise that What We Did On Our Holiday is essentially the film version of that show, with a slightly larger scope and bigger budget cast. Parents Abi (Rosamund Pike) and Doug (David Tennant) are, like the TV show, partnered with three children of varying ages, with the comedy derived from the children's perceptiveness (or the adults lack of the same).
As with seemingly any TV adaptation, the writer/directors justify the extra forty minutes or so by getting the characters to go somewhere other than their home. In this case, the recently separated Abi and Doug head to Doug's father's (Billy Connolly) for a birthday. In a simple comic setup that collapses almost as soon as it has begun, Abi and Doug encourage the children to lie about their separation, fearing it will bring further illness to cancer sufferer Gordie (Connolly).
The film is at its strongest when the core five cast members are together. Hamilton and Jenkin excel at writing comedy based on bickering and mildly outlandish everyday situations (Doug falls asleep whilst driving the car to Gordie's Scottish home). The scenes of the family packing to leave, stopping off on the way and finally making it to Gordie's are light, but also feature beautifully-timed laughs.
Things take a little bit of a dip when Gordie takes the kids for a trip and the adults are left to fend for themselves. Doug's rivalry with brother Gavin (Ben Miller) is even more stock than the rest of the film, Gavin's wife's (Celia Imrie) YouTube meltdown in a shop isn't funny and Gavin and Agnes' (Imrie) son's awkwardness doesn't really go anywhere, except to lend the plot a little more mawkishness than it needs towards the finale.
The final third does regain some of the sure footing of the opening, but the film also blows up into something else entirely, something much bigger and less successful than the better-scripted, quieter laughs.
What We Did On Our Holiday was playing on Netflix.