WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY REVIEW

what

From the makers that brought you Outnumbered. Now if you’re wincing at that title, then this may not be for you.

Doug (David Tennant), Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug’s father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) birthday party. It’s soon clear that when it comes to keeping a secret under wraps from the rest of the family, their children are their biggest liability . . .

What We Did On Our Holiday very much follows that style and structure. Well, it is Outnumbered just with a completely different family. The children inevitably allowed the freedom to share their incredibly random but hilarious outlook on life.

A nicey-nicey dramedy that leaves you smiling. All in all, not bad. Not without its imperfections but a stellar British cast, along with some little newbies, help smooth out the creases.

David Tennant and Rosamund Pike (she’s been popping up everywhere at the moment and deservedly so) work well together as the sparring couple who must pretend to be happily married for the sake of keeping up appearances.

However, the kids have other plans. Mainly because they are kids and have no idea why they have to lie when Mum and Dad are always fighting and live in separate houses.

Harriett Turnbull and Bobby Smalldridge are fantastic as the curious little tykes. They come out with some belters that were most definitely not scripted. A highlight for me was when the little ‘uns met Annette Crosbie’s (One Foot in the Grave) lesbian ostrich farmer (You read that right).

She attempts to explain her sexuality, leading to the kids believing she is from a place called Lesbia. Smalldridge completely catches Crosbie off guard with a question about putting an ostrich’s egg back up her bottom. Even the comedy veteran cracked a grin.

Billy Connolly was, to be expected, brilliant. His story line with his ailing health hits a little more close to home. Especially with what the comedian is going through.

The discussions of death with the children are done very well and his character is instantly loveable as the giggling granddad. The family arguments are dealt with brilliantly and tackle the issues of divorce and spite, with the children inevitably suffering.

Ben Miller (Death in Paradise) doesn’t do a bad Scottish accent and plays the pompous uptight brother very well. Amelia Bullmore (Scott and Bailey) played quite a subdued role. That was until we dig into the reason (Luckily there was one) behind her silence. The answer lying in a YouTube video viewed by millions. Brilliant.

However, these stellar comedy actors were always going to play second fiddle to the kids. Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin have introduced another set of future prospects. Turnbull was definitely the adorable scene stealer. Her gruelling interrogative manner with Ben Miller was worth the ticket price alone.

Halfway through this easy going fam-dram, there is an unexpected twist. Well the outcome of the twist was predictable but how the characters deal with it surprised me. It certainly played with the macabre. I won’t say much more because this a film I want people to see.

It’s not all perfect. I wish more was made with the family drama. It all gets heated, brilliantly acted but then evaporates into a corny finale with cheesy grandiose speeches and everybody singing and dancing.

Bullmore’s character was clearly going through some sort of breakdown and how Gavin (Ben Miller) treats her and their son Gordy (Ryan Hunter) was quite poor. To be honest, Gordy was a bit of a drip. It could have been down to Gavin’s treatment but nothing was made of it. A wasted opportunity.

Celia Imrie (The Love Punch) played such a small limited role. A shame for a talented actress. She did well but anyone could have played her.

Another minor quibble was the relevance of the escaped ostrich? It kept popping up and running across the screen. By the end of the film, apparently none and it wasn’t even funny.

Despite a darker twist, the film was always going to be a fluffy family drama and it all ends a little too cheesy and happily for my liking (Maybe it’s the cynic in me) but certainly one of the better ones. Worth an investment.

3.5/5 for me

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HECTOR AND THE SEARCH FOR HAPPINESS REVIEW

Hector-And-The-Search-For-Happiness-Simon-Pegg-Rosamund-Pike

Oh Hec . . . Well this is a mixed bag, isn’t it?

One thing that can be agreed is that Simon Pegg is brilliant and shows how much he has progressed from his Spaced days. Providing charisma and charm to an otherwise weak protagonist made all the difference.

The end result did leave me with a smile but the journey along the way seemed to stumble and stammer along, failing to decide on what tone to set. It teeters from feel good dramedy to hard hitting drama with the results mixed as none of them really gel or hit home as much as you’d expect or hope.

The slow burning opening does put you into a bit of a lull which is not a good start. Of course, the point is that we are supposed to see the source of Hector’s frustration as he plods on through his mundane life on auto pilot. But we get that connection in the first two minutes not twenty.

Pegg has great chemistry with the alluring Rosamund Pike but she is soon cast aside to Skype cameos as we follow Hector on his pursuit for happiness (No, different movie) after a mini-meltdown with one of his clients and Pegg’s many comedy counterparts Tracy Ann Oberman as the ill-titled Pathetic Jane.

The meltdown sequence allows Pegg to shine (with a catchphrase to remember). However, there only seems to be moments. A moment where Pegg can be funny. A moment where Pegg can act. It’s just not consistent enough.

A humourous incident in which Hector tests the versatility of the unbreakable cutlery on the first class flight was a good gag. A conversation with a cancer patient made for sobering viewing but was ignited by solid acting. We get to travel across the world(Well, China, Africa and America) to find the essence of happiness.

To be honest, the main message I got from the film was travel the world. Not just Africa. An elongated kidnapping sequence just didn’t seem to fit in the film at all and how Hector got out of it involving a pen from a drug kingpin was just stupid.

It helps that Pegg has a good supporting cast. It’s just a shame that anyone could have played their parts. Jean Reno played the arrogant and erratic drug king pin as well as you would expect but this didn’t seem like the sort of film to make satire. Satire that is not that subtle or clever.

Stellan Skarsgard was wasted as the affluent businessman who has it all. An encounter on the plane made for funny viewing as Hector irritates Skarsgard’s slumbering businessman. However, once they get into China, Skarsgard’s character is pushed aside.

At times, it was hard to feel sorry for Hector when he tends to act quite selfishly, especially when he has such a supporting and caring wife. I know, that’s life but as a film when you’re supposed to be rooting for the little guy, you end up wanting to slap him round the head and tell him to go home.

A lapse in judgement nearly leads to our “hero” sleeping with a hooker (played well by Ming Zhao). Why go out for burgers when you have steak at home? According to my brother who attended the screening with me.

Togo Igawa played the kind hearted monk well and to be honest, I wanted to see more of him. I know that this film was adapted from a book but this only spurred me to read the book to see if it is as bad as the film.

The weird cast asides and little convos with Hector’s inner child and childhood dog didn’t go anywhere and didn’t really fit. They felt forced into the film. Toni Collette played the old flame as well as she could bar one good scene in which they confront each other over their past.

Christopher Plummer makes a crazy cameo as the eccentric professor who can detect happiness in the brain. (Yeah, it really was as boring as you think). But Plummer manages to make any scientific mumbo jumbo sound believable with his dulcet tones.

It’s all hit and miss. Certainly watchable and Pegg has proven that he can act and act well. It will be great to see his next project with a better character, better story and a bit more room for him to apply his spiel.

The better moments seep through when Pegg is allowed to be . . . Pegg. It’s not bad but if you’re looking for a feel good travel movie then watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

It has good moments and an easy going message by the ending. That corny predictable ending.

2.5/5 for me.

Not bad not not great. Shame.