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Film / What We Did on Our Holiday

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What We Did on Our Holiday is a 2014 British comedy-drama film written and directed by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, the creators of Outnumbered.

It's the holidays, and the McLeod family are making their way to the Highlands for granddad Gordie's 75th (and possibly last) birthday party. Doug and his soon to be ex wife Abi arrive with their three children in tow: Lottie, who scribbles repeatedly in her notebook so she can remember which lies she is supposed to tell; Mickey , who is obsessed with Vikings; and Jess, whose best friends are a rock and a half a breezeblock named Eric and Norman.

The house belongs to the Doug's self-obsessed brother Gavin, and the party is to be the do to end them all. Family tensions surface, arguments begin, and Granddad escapes the preparations and heads to the beach with the children.

Starring Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, David Tennant and Ben Miller.

Not to be confused with Fairport Convention's album What We Did on Our Holidays.

This show contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion:
    • When his character is being kicked on the ground and accused of being English, David Tennant angrily shoots back that he isn't English, only to be ignored. Tennant famously played the Doctor with an Estuary accent, which caused some fans to forget that he actually was Scottish.
    • A possibly unintentional case; Tennant also played the Viking Spitelout in How to Train Your Dragon and Dragons: Riders of Berk. Here, he's the son of a wannabe Viking berserker, not too dissimilar from Snotlout.

  • Adults Are Useless : Large amounts of the comedy, and action, come from the children's reaction to the uselessness of their relatives
  • Amicable Exes : Subverted. Abi and Doug are anything but. The end of the film leaves it ambiguous as to whether or not they'll get back together, but they seem to have put their differences aside either way, so double subverted.
  • Big "WHAT?!": All the adults when they find out what happened to Granddad.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humour: The media frenzy in the second half of the film is shown to have swept up the BBC, who notably funded the film.
  • Black Comedy : In spades.
    Grandad: Put me out in the purple wheelie bin. That's for plastic and dead granddads.
  • Blatant Lies : Lampshaded:
    Lottie: I need a list of the lies we are going to tell.
    • Doug and Abi are particularly egregious, telling granddad everything is fine, couldn't be better with the two of them. He doesn't cotton on to them having divorced, but he can tell something's up.
  • Cassandra Truth: Despite trying to tell the adults what happened, the children are not believed until Gavin and Doug actually find evidence to back up their story.
  • Celebrity Paradox: A mild one. Wallace & Gromit is given a Shout-Out. David Tennant worked with Aardman Animation (the creators of Wallace and Gromit) on The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, specifically as Charles Darwin.
  • Chekhov's Skill : Mickey's ability to tie a clove hitch.
  • Cluster F-Bomb : The parents are prone to these, as reported by Mickey:
    Mickey: Mum and Dad swear all the time. Tell that to your poxy effing c word of a solicitor, you effing b word.
  • Cool Old Guy: Gordie has a great sense of humour and although he is a big kid at heart he’s also the only adult who is willing to be honest with the kids.
  • Comically Missing the Point : When the children quiz Uncle Gavin on his occupation
    Uncle Gavin I'm a shortseller.
    Mickey You sell shorts?
    Jess You're a short sailor?
  • Crying Wolf: This becomes a plot point towards the second half of the film. The first time Granddad appears to have died, it turns out to be a joke he pulls to scare the kids. The second time around, he actually is dead and they don't believe him at first. After the Viking Funeral, Gavin assumes that he's put the kids up to a joke.
  • Deadpan Snarker :
    • Mum and granddad have their moments:
    Doug: So our best friends are stones now?
    Abi: Oh no, not all of them, some of them are bricks.
    Doug: Well, have you spoken to anyone about it?
    Abi: Like who? A geologist?
    • And later:
    Grandad: It's only the north Atlantic, why on earth would it be cold?
  • Died on Their Birthday: Gordie dies on his seventy-fifth birthday, but visited one of his oldest friends, spent quality time with his grandchildren, and watched them play one last time before succumbing to a heart attack.
  • Dysfunctional Family : It's a comedy with a family in it. Of course its dysfunctional. As, as Abi says, are they all.
  • Exact Words: Abi asks Jess to tell her exactly what happened to Granddad. Jess proceeds to explain the day in painstaking detail, taking too much time to get to the topic of granddad despite all attempts to get her back on track.
  • Face Death with Dignity: After Gordie sees Fraser, his older brother appear, he briefly asks what's happening and then seems to realise, calmly accepts it and passes away from a heart attack.
  • From the Mouths of Babes : As with Outnumbered, this is where a lot of the humour comes from.
  • Good Parents: Doug and Abi fit better as Parents as People, as do Gavin and Margaret towards Kenneth. Gordie, on the other hand, loves both his sons despite their flaws and doesn't hold their shortcomings against them, reasoning that life is too short for grudges and anger.
  • Hates Baths: Implied with Jess, the youngest daughter.
    Mickey: Do we still have to take a bath?
    Abi: (hesitating) No.
    Jess: Yay!
  • Heel Realisation: Towards the end, Gavin realises that his self-centred nature is responsible for driving his wife into depression. He also comments that he wished he'd spent more time with Gordie before his death. The same can be said of Doug and Abi, who resolve to just sort things out humanely.
  • Hero of Another Story: Kenneth, Gavin's son, gives this vibe due to his subplot about trying to pass his music exam, then his romance with a fellow violinist and developing as a person. This doesn't get too much focus, and is mostly kept in the background.
  • Horny Vikings: Discussed and defied when Mickey takes the horns out of a toy Viking helmet that Margaret has given him, since it was historically inaccurate.
  • Humans Are Flawed: When Lottie tells Gordie that she is angry with her family, Gordie tells her he used to feel the same until he realised that everyone has their own flaws which is why it’s ultimately pointless to fight and be angry with one another.
- The truth is, every human being on this planet is ridiculous in their own way. So we shouldn't judge, we shouldn't fight, because in the end... in the end, none of it matters. None of this stuff.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Doug and Gavin both have their share of differences and flaws, but they do both care for their father in different ways. They are both awash with grief when they find his pickup truck at the beach, with Gavin being almost inconsolable.
  • Mouthing the Profanity: It's not clear what Doug and Abi are shouting at one another when they stop the car and leave the kids inside to shelter from the rain, but it certainly isn't pretty.
  • No True Scotsman: Discussed when a football game with Gavin and Doug gets violent and the proudly Scottish Gavin is kicking Doug, calling him English.
    Doug: I'm not English!
    Gavin: You're so English you're practically French!
  • Papa Wolf: While Doug is also devastated by Gordie's death and is shocked by the actions of his kids, he takes Gavin's comments about them being punched seriously and is clearly angered.
  • Police Are Useless: Justified.
    Gavin: Is this an effective use of police resource? Shouldn't you be out, looking for evidence of my father?
    Officer: We have nae got a submarine.
  • Scenery Porn : The shots of the loch and mountains really show off the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.
  • Shout-Out: After finding out that Abi's new paramour is a man named Wallace, Doug sarcastically asks if he has a dog named Gromit.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Between the self-centred Gavin and Doug.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Both Doug and Abi by reputation, though most of it is offscreen due to the film being rated twelve.
  • Spiritual Successor : To Outnumbered.
  • Stepford Smiler: Gavin's wife Margaret, who is suffering from depression and is found by their son Kenneth crying in the bathroom. The medication she is taking for it caused her to have a meltdown in a shopping centre and violently attack some bystanders.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: A pretty hefty amount of this in the second half:
    • The news that Granddad had a Viking funeral causes an understandable amount of concern. They eventually accept it is what he would have wanted, having said that.
    • The emergency services do not believe Gavin when he explains the situation, assume he is doing a prank call and hang up on him.
    • The above news causes a media outrage in which the children, and by proxy the Mcleod family in general are demonised as savages. It also attracts the attention of child services, although the investigator is a Reasonable Authority Figure so things don't go quite as badly as they could have done.
    • Lottie's keeping notes comes back to haunt the family in the above instance, as does Mickey's obsession with Norse mythology.
  • Take That!:
    • Among the tabloids generating a media frenzy in the second half of the film are the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. Even the BBC gets involved at one point.
    • It is implied that in the above media frenzy, David Cameron is exploiting the news to back up his idea that Britain is a "broken society".
  • The Talk : Played for comedy.
    Granddad's friend: Do you know what a lesbian is?
    Mickey: Is it someone from lesbia?
  • Viking Funeral: Mickey mentions this a few times, since he's a Viking enthusiast. This is eventually what happens to Granddad
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Lottie is only ten, but is easily one of the more mature members of the cast.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Gavin is truly enraged by Doug and Abi's kids doing a Viking Funeral for granddad but notably asks Doug to stick up for them so he can have someone to punch, as he thinks the kids are too small.