Giving a School Presentation with What We Did On Our Holiday, A Movie Review

23 Jul

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

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Two of Scotland‘s favourite sons are paired in a family comedy drama, What We Did On Our Holiday. David Tennant and Billy Connolly headline this film about a dysfunctional family attempting to come to terms before Gordie McLeod’s (Connolly) 75th birthday. This patriarch of the family is about to celebrate a milestone if he does not succumb to his cancer first. But when his grown up boys Doug (Tennant) and (Ben Miller) are constantly bickering with him or their respective spouses, he wants nothing to do with them. In his glory days, he was a well-known soccer player — he’s had his share of experiences from the school of hard knocks.

His grandchildren, however, are still innocent. Their outlook on life is very different and that perspective is very refreshing to see. Gordie has to carefully choose what he has to say around them, and in what he reveals, these youths receive some very important perspective defining lessons before his passing. At the same time, they provide the best laughs and steal the show. Lottie (Emilia Jones), Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) and Jess (Harriet Turnbull) have a charm that works very well on the screen. When their characters prove themselves wise beyond their years after their little education from Gordie, they certainly show that they understand grandpa better than the two men trying to give their father the best celebration amongst his peers.

The Viking funeral the children give is very apt. This act suggests the story takes place somewhere in Northern Scotland than South, but the geography is nothing like what’s presumed about the land. Gone are the craggy hills and fog-laden moors. Instead of a tale highlighting the Highlands, the lowlands (the picturesque seaside) is the spotlight here. The cinematography of this other side of Scotland will no doubt increase tourism to the British Isles.

Even the music is worth noting. Admittedly, I’ve always had a soft spot for this country’s culture ever since Highlander, but there’s a vibrancy to be felt with how the tunes from this country are expressed by the musical instruments. They speak to the soul. Whether it’s with the bagpipes or the fiddle, you just want to be lost with the melodic rhythms. The soundtrack is worth noting because it flows well with the sweeping landscapes that’s presented on screen.

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What We Did On Our Holiday can easily be a hit for fans of Connolly’s works. He still offers some wonderful zingers in a mostly subdued role when he’s acting in front of children. When he’s slated to tour Canada in the Fall, perhaps he may talk about this film that was originally released in 2014 and give it a plug as it hits theatres in encore shows. This movie is finally getting an American distribution this year and it’s a family safe product to go see. Facing death is difficult, and in what this film does is present how united a family, even one on the verge of collapsing, can remain united. And for children going back to school, they will not have to face the difficult task that Lottie, Mickey and Jess may get assigned. Some teachers asks students to talk about their summer vacation, and if they were to talk about their time with grandpa, it’s a safe bet that they will leave their peers, and the audience, in tears.

4 Stars out of 5

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