What We Did on Our Holiday

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
What We Did on Our Holiday Movie Poster Image
Clichéd British dramedy deals with divorce, loss.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 95 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

A gruff old man tries to help his grandchildren understand that everyone is flawed in their own ways, and life is easier if you can accept people for who they are instead of trying to change them into something else. Characters discuss divorce (main characters are in the middle of divorcing) and illness and must deal with loss.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the adults are absorbed with their own issues and conflicts, so it's up to the children to act sensibly in a crisis. 


A key character dies suddenly, though not in any way graphically. Several arguments. During one disagreement, a character threatens to yell "rape," but it's said in anger rather than a situation of actual physical danger.


Teens kiss passionately; squabbling adults kiss briefly, with little warmth or passion. An older woman explains sexual identity to children.


Infrequent use of "prick," "wanker," and "s--t," plus one "f--k" said without sound. Several characters use variations of "Jesus Christ" and "oh God" as exclamations in stressful moments. 


One of the characters uses a Mac computer. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking at a party. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that What We Did on Our Holiday is a British dramedy about a divorcing couple who must pretend that everything is fine while visiting family in Scotland. With three young kids in tow, it's hard to keep their marriage woes a secret, and soon the grown-ups are squabbling (which could stress out some kid viewers), while the children and their gruff grandfather are the only ones who seem to act sensibly. There's little swearing (a few uses of "s--t," "prick," and some British slang, as well as one "f--k" that's mouthed but not said), minimal drinking, and some kissing between both a teen couple and adults. But (spoiler alert!) a key character dies suddenly, so the second half of the movie does feature some heavier themes related to mortality. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 10-year-old Written bysah777 September 21, 2019

Dumped it after 10 mins...

After about 10 mins they had a) blasphemed Jesus 3-5 times loudly, and b) argued loudly and heavily, and so we dumped it. Also, it is shot cinematographically i... Continue reading
Adult Written byTim R. June 9, 2019

What parents also need to know.

While ultimately a wholesome and worthwhile family film with a unique twist, there are a few things that might raise some questions with younger children. There... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEmeraldGalaxy August 20, 2018

Not a great film

This film was annoying, plain weird, and didn’t make very much sense. Probably one of the worst films I’ve ever seen. The kids situation was really unlikely, an... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byemcd.99 August 8, 2020

This movie is so underrated!!

I’ve watched this movie many times with my family and find it utterly hilarious. There’s a bit of bad language but as long as kids know not to repeat it, it’s f... Continue reading

What's the story?

In WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY, divorcing couple Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) ready themselves for a family trip to Scotland to celebrate Doug's father's birthday. They're careful to tell their three young kids not to tell anyone that Mom and Dad are splitting up. But once they arrive, it's hard to hide the tension -- and it doesn't help that there's already some sibling rivalry between Doug and his more successful brother. The only adult who seems to have any sense at all is Doug's dad (Billy Connolly), who helps his grandchildren escape from the squabbling adults with a trip to the beach that they won't soon forget ... and not exactly for happy reasons. 

Is it any good?

This dramedy feels cliched from the start. Bickering parents are so caught up in their petty fights that they can't pay attention to what's going on around them, let alone their adorable young children, who, yes, wind up teaching the grown-ups important things about themselves. A wise old grandparent also makes an appearance, armed with a lesson no one will forget, as well as an irritating, rich relative who's used to getting everything his way. It's clear that we should ignore the parents and see what the younger generation can pick up from their charming, cantankerous grandfather. (Kudos to Connolly, who manages to infuse new life into a predictable character.)

The plot twist that comes in the middle of the movie isn't totally surprising, at least not at first. After what we've seen so far, it's no surprise that the adults are useless in a crisis. But then the kids take the film in an unexpected direction that's almost believable, and the way it's treated feels (mostly) realistic and even entertaining. Unfortunately, all to soon the film goes back to standard formula, with everyone learning what's important in life. Unsurprising, yes. Somewhat charming, sure. Groundbreaking? Not by a stretch.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how What We Did on Our Holiday handles the topic of divorce. Is it realistic? How are the kids impacted by what's going on between their parents?

  • What lessons, if any, do the adults learn by the end of the movie? What do the children's actions make them realize about their own behavior? 

  • Which of the characters here could be considered role models? Why?

Movie details

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