There are several things that I really liked about What We Did on Our Holiday. It is a Scottish comedy, and it takes place in the Scottish Highlands. The subtle jokes are funny, but you have to be a Scot or familiar with the culture to really understand them. The movie follows three children of estranged parents. All played wonderfully by Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge, and Harriet Turnbull.
The movie has two directors, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin. After their notable success of their BBC series Outnumbered, they weave an unsteady story about a family visiting their children’s grandfather, played truthfully by Billy Connolly. He is dying of cancer, so his whole family is celebrating his 75th birthday with a huge weekend bash as a final good-bye.
The parents of the three children, Doug, played by Harry Potter’s (David Tennant), his wife Abi, played by Gone Girl’s Rosamund Pike, are divorcing and hope to keep it a secret from the rest of their family. They tell their children not to let anyone know about their pending divorce while visiting them over weekend. Keeping a secret or lying about one’s parents has an effect on the children, and they end up telling their grandfather the truth.
The parents are constantly battling over issues such as telling the truth even if the truth is sad or shocking. It is not just Doug and Abi who are having a rough time. The children’s aunt and uncle (Doug’s brother and sister-in-law) are going through some rough times in their marriage as well.
The story really gets interesting when the children go to the beach with their grandfather and he passes away on the beach. Before he passes away, he tells them he is a descendent of the Vikings, and he wants to be burned out at sea like his Viking ancestors did long, long time ago.
So, the oldest daughter goes back to the house to tell the parents that grandfather passed away. But, their parents are arguing as the rest of the family is too. They are so busy arguing that they don’t even know the daughter is there and needs their attention. She decides to go back and handle the remains of grandfather instead. The children honor his wishes and burn him at sea like a Viking, which has repercussions in the 21st Century Scotland.
Other theatrics involving the repercussions of the Viking funeral and other family problems are quite funny. The fast-paced editing keeps the story moving and ties together nicely like the ending of a Scottish tale.