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What We Did on Our Holiday (12a)
Running time 95 minutes
Rating:***
When English people go to Scotland – which thanks to a recent vote, they can continue to do – they generally remark on the weather (not great 350 days of the year), the food (tasty, despite the occasional deep-fried Mars bar blemishes) and the people (good-hearted, generally).
When some Americans go to Scotland (assuming they go further north than Edinburgh), they tend to wonder when is the next plane back to so-called civilization. No, that’s a lie actually, but you know what I mean.
So, try to imagine how a non-Scottish audience will react to What We Did on Our Holiday, a Celtic confection written and directed by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins, the creators of the television sit-com about harassed parents, Outnumbered.
Made by the BBC in conjunction with a Scottish artistic promotional company, it has all the ingredients necessary to give anyone who knows the country a good time. For a start there is living legend Billy Connolly, now sadly afflicted with Parkinson’s, but still raising a chuckle nonetheless.
He works alongside David Tennant and other supporting cast stalwarts such as Ben Miller and Celia Imrie, in a tale of children showing adults how to do the right thing in a crisis.
Doug (Tennant) and wife Abi (Rosamund Pike) have three slightly bonkers youngsters – one who thinks Odin is alive, another who notes down all her parents’ lies, and a third who steals keys. This would be fine if the couple weren’t in the process of divorcing, but still had to go to Scotland for Doug’s father’s (Connolly) 75th birthday bash before he succumbs to cancer.
As with all car journeys to Scotland, it takes a long time, is very tiring and not very interesting until you get to the last 50 miles or so. However, the kids make it seem longer and the plans for the birthday bash, which Grandad hates, are also very tiresome.
So Grandad takes the children to his favourite beach (up in Wester Ross near Gairloch if you want to go there) where he promptly passes away, leaving the kids to decide what to do.
Their solution – building a raft, putting the body on it, setting fire to it and floating it out to sea – is perhaps not in the best traditions of such as the Co-op Funeral Service, but has the advantage of being quick and easy and actually what he wanted.
Inevitably, there are consequences, but you can go and see the film yourself to discover what happens next.
This is a quirky little tale that has echoes of the brilliant 1980s film comedy Local Hero, but you find yourself wishing for another glimpse of the breathtaking scenery rather than following the narrative.
Everyone does their best but it is the kind of film that may not travel far beyond these shores. This is a pity, because it has good laughs and good acting. The kids however, all need a good ticking off and sending to bed with extra homework.



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