What We Did On Our Holiday

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

I don’t think I’ve ever watched a film that feels so much like a eulogy to the loss of a friend. At times it’s touching and clearly a deeply personal film yet there is an overall feeling that you are a voyeur looking at something you know you shouldn’t.

I couldn’t help feel slightly awkward after watching. It’s like heading home after a few beers you feel warm and cosy but then you stumble past a woman crying. Awkward! Do I try help or do I pretend I didn’t see anything, continue home and wake up in the laundry basked confused, half naked and marinated in apricot jam.

It’s going to be really hard to elaborate whilst not spoiling the film but here goes. The basic premise is that a dysfunctional family goes to see their granddad in Scotland for his 75th birthday. Thanks to a series of unfortunate events the family learns to come together in the end.

The film opens with Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) stressing and arguing as they desperately try to get their 3 young kids into a car in a scene that is probably all too familiar for some parents.

Its quickly apparent that this is a low budget film and whilst this isn’t always a bad thing; this film certainly could have done with some polish.

The lighting is especially poor and the cinematography isn’t great as there is little in the way of tracking and panning shots to keep it visually interesing. It all combines to make the film feel like an extra long TV show.

The way that Doug and Abi are on the back foot when it comes to their kids also reminded me TV show; Outnumbered which, like this film, was also made by the BBC.

It’s only when the family arrives in Scotland that the film really gets going, thankfully though you don’t have to wait for too long for this. Doug and Abi meet up with Doug’s brother Gavin (played by a rather excellent Ben Miller) and conflicts of personality keeps the adults in a perpetual state of bickering. It’s here where we see the films biggest asset, Grandad Gordy (Billy Connolly).

Gordy’s outlook on life is so far removed from the squabbling of the other adults that the quiet moments where he is simply content with being beside a Loch becomes quite poignant when juxtaposed with Gavin’s technology laden house or Doug’s fast paced London lifestyle.

Gordy’s jovial and care free attitude means that he can quickly become the children’s best friend and mentor. This innocence is undoubtedly touching and leads to the films biggest plot hooks, which ends up being absurd but funny nonetheless.

Unfortunately the scenes with Gordy and the kids are too few and far between to keep your interest.

We are thrown back into the birthday party that is wrapped up quickly and the proceeding events even more so which mutes any potential moral messaging about not taking life too seriously… maybe it was marmalade and not apricot jam?!

That said there is a really heartfelt ending that rounds up a nostalgic look at the life of an old man. It’s clear to see that this was written and/or directed by someone who had the utmost respect and admiration for his Grandad.

Go See

  • A decent feel good film
  • Billy Connolly is excellent
  • Poignant and touching


  • Uninspiring beginning 
  • Feels like a TV show
  • End of the party was underdeveloped




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