Misery, divorce and death – your typical British comedy!
What We Did On Our Holiday Review
Misery, divorce and death – your typical British comedy!About five minutes into the film, and without knowing anything about it, I thought, “this has a very ‘Outnumbered’ feel to it”. Come the credits: written and directed by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin – creators, writers and directors of that very show. As such, you can kind of guess where this film is at, and how it plays out. That is no bad thing, Outnumbered is an outstanding show, but one has to wonder that, due to the ages of the child cast, a feature film of the long suffering Brockmans family was never going to materialise. Thus this film was born. Doug and Abi McLeod have three young children, they are also going through a rough divorce causing much consternation between them and the kids. Agreeing to feign happiness for Doug’s dying father the family drive up to Scotland to celebrate his 75th birthday along with Doug’s millionaire brother.Upon arriving, however, it is clear all is not well; the ‘grown up’s’ immediately begin arguing around their own insecurities, while, conversely, Gordie lavishes kindness and love to his three grandchildren. When tragedy strikes on the beach, the kids take it upon themselves to make his last wish come true much to the disbelief of their parents, uncle and the authorities! There is much to enjoy here, the improvisational nature of the dialogue, the interaction between the characters, the idea of young and old surviving while the ‘responsible’ behave like children and a story that ties together all lose ends without drowning in syrup. However, there are more ideas in play than can be happy told in 90 minutes and it wraps up far too quickly and simply, with the thinnest of excuses, to be fully satisfying. Enjoyable, though, in a British sort of way.
Blu-ray Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct 1.85:1 1080p transfer using the AVC codec and is Region locked to B.
Shot digitally the detail on show is frequently impressive, from close ups to more expansive landscape shots. Those of Scotland’s vistas are particularly impressive with the sunset shots overlooking the loch being delightful. Skin texture is also good; Tennant’s facial hair, as well as the Big Yin’s locks, are clean and tidy with clothing weaves and other minute (model ship’s, beach sand, table decorations etc.) holding very keen edges. The occasional softness crops in but this looks more like a cinematographic choice rather than anything untoward with the transfer. The final scene on the beach looks to have digital issues, but this is inherent in the print due to filming through a fog of midges!
Scotland’s vistas are particularly impressive with the sunset shots overlooking the loch being delightful
Colour is well rounded but has a ‘TV movie’ look to it, i.e. Hollywood movies have a deep vibrant gloss, whereas this is more natural; understated. The primaries come across well but don’t leap from the screen, though there is nothing wrong with that. Blues and greens work very well within the pallet.
Contrast and brightness are set to give reasonable blacks, again harking back to TV origins rather than mega-blockbuster Hollywood, and as a result the picture is somewhat flat by comparison. Indeed there are never any real occasions to go into shadow depth or detail; there is nothing wrong it’s just that it looks average.
Digitally there are no compression problems, no edge enhancement or jaggies to spoil the view, though there is (very) occasional banding, with the original image is fine and dandy being from a digital source.
Blu-ray Sound QualityJust the one track to choose: English dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround. Dialogue, the most important part of the ensemble is clear, precise sounds very natural and dominated by the frontal array. Ambient effects are taken care of by the surround speakers, but there is not much to boast about; the windswept beach plays host to some nice ‘outdoor’ effects, while during the party there are some ‘guest noises’ to give a feeling of being inside, but other than that there is very little else. Bass is very limited indeed. The score, however, does get some nice usage through the speakers and perhaps plays the best with the stereo effects, particularly the violin duo. All else is, much like the picture, ordinary.
Blu-ray ExtrasAudio Commentary – With writer and directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins. Quite a sedate affair with Hamilton taking the role of anecdote teller (about cast interactions, set ups, stories, behaviour on set etc.) and Jenkins explaining a more technical role (camera set ups, locations, lighting etc.), which together makes for an interesting listen. There are a few gaps in the conversation, but the chemistry is engaging.
Cast and Crew Interviews – Four interviewees (Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins (together), David Tennant, Rosemond Pike and Billy Connolly) who each answer (from an on screen title card) two questions – can be watched individually or all together with the play all function for a run time of about thirty minutes.
Deleted Scenes – Four in total (plays all together) with no introduction, explanation or context; runs for just under two minutes.
Is What We Did On Our Holiday VerdictFrom Outnumbered creators Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins we have 'Outnumbered the Film', or that’s what it would have been if the ages of the child actors had remained in single figures. What we do have, however, is the next best thing; a story that could have been right from that TV show with a whole host of excellent actors (Dave Tannant, Rosamond Pike, Billy Connolly, Ben Miller etc.) improvising comedic dialogue in wild situations with young and charismatic child actors that play their parts to a tee.
The story of the protagonist couple presenting a united front for the sake of a sick relative is hardly new, and indeed the way the story unfolds with arguing (grown up) siblings, and the young and old becoming ever closer, has been seen a million times before. However the situation on the beach and the interaction between the characters, both young and old, is a delight; with a childlike innocence to the ideas of death and burial soon becoming the focus for the story. All this good is countermanded by a slew of ideas not fully rounded out and the story does wrap up far too quickly with a very thin excuse for all the reconciliation, which feels rushed and somewhat unsatisfying, but honestly, it does more good than bad and is never dull to watch.
The interaction between the characters, both young and old, is a delight
The release from Lionsgate is very reasonable, the picture is clear and bright, even if it looks a little like a TV movie, and the sound, whilst doing more right than wrong is more steered towards the front than a fully immersive surround experience. The extras are OK with the highlight going to the audio commentary.
You can buy What We Did On Our Holiday Blu-ray Here
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