The funniest lines from What We Did On Our Holiday inevitably come from the kids, notably the two younger ones, but even adorable children saying the funniest things can’t save this strange farce of a comedy. Penned by Outnumbered writers Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, they are completely in their comfort zone trotting out lines for precocious offspring, but after 5 series of Outnumbered, numerous specials and children who have gone from teeny to teens, this is like a reboot but unfortunately the formula has already worn thin.
David Tennant and Rosamund Pike play the parents of 3 kids under 10, trying to cover up their separation in front of Tennant’s ailing father played by Billy Connolly, who is quite simply appalling and grating in his one note tone of grandfatherly dialogue. The oldest child (10) is very poorly written and directed, supposedly the voice of maturity amongst the kids but coming across as a deep annoyance. It’s a strange thing how this film descends from a light family comedy to showing the different ways children and adults understand grief. It’s shockingly dark and sinister when you step back and think for a moment, but on the surface it retains that same light, familiar resonance of kids saying silly things facade. It’s not cinematic but it is odd, very odd.
Considering its many failings, it’s actually funnier than that word suggests and I’m sure there will be Outnumbered fans less jaded by the stock lines and stock characters who will enjoy this. For example, after the children commit their surreal act, the press twists their actions in downright hilarious fashion. But none of this glues terribly well as a film. Perhaps it could have been cut up into a 2 or 3 part television series on Thursday nights. It’s essentially an extended episode of Outnumbered but with children committing a couple more strange acts against the dead. Most certainly an oddball.
What We Did On Our Holiday is out now in the UK. Running time 95 mins. Certificate 12A (UK).
Review by David Rank