DVD Review: What We Did On Our Holiday

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The British-produced What We Did On Our Holiday will surely draw in a certain number of videos based on solely on the cult appeal of Doctor Who's David Tennant. He stars alongside Rosamund Pike, even more bait for curious viewers as Pike was recently Oscar-nominated for her memorable turn in Gone Girl. New to DVD from Lionsgate, What We Did On Our Holiday initially seems like a broadly mainstream comedy along the lines of Parental Guidance or Vacation. Co-writer/directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin aim for something considerably deeper. Don't let the silly-looking DVD cover and woefully generic title fool you.

Doug (Tennant) and Abi (Pike) are divorcing and live in separate houses. Their three kids—Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge), Lottie (Emilia Jones), Jess (Harriet Turnbull)—know what's up, but their parents insist they remain mum about the situation during their summer vacation. They're going to visit Doug's father, Gordie (Billy Connolly), who is in the last stages of terminal cancer. Not exactly the typical ingredients for a feel-good comedy, but somehow a general tone of lightness is maintained even as the narrative takes unpredictably dark turns. Directors Hamilton and Jenkin have a few very effective tricks up their sleeve, with more than one surprise awaiting viewers.

What's not surprising is that the cast offers a great deal of appeal, with the young actors playing Doug and Abi's kids being the standouts. They're uncomfortable with the idea of keeping their parents' divorce a secret, especially the neurotic Lottie. Much of Holiday is thematically driven by the kids' learning that things don't stay the same—people sometimes get sick and die, relationships sometimes fail. The very fact that this stuff is atypical comedic territory makes the film a modest, low-key success.

The DVD includes a Digital HD copy (What We Did On Our Holiday has not been issued on Blu-ray). DVD extras include audio commentary, deleted scenes, and a "making of" featurette.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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