A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
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