<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin. Starring Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly, Ben Miller, Amelia Bullmore, Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge, Harriet Turnbull, Celia Imrie, Annette Crosbie
What starts off as a not-so-funny comedy about a dysfunctional family and their impending holiday from England to Scotland turns into an interesting film about how adults have lost sight of what matters and how children can be wonderfully clever and perceptive.
Abi (Rosamund Pike) and Doug (David Tennant) are getting ready to go on a road trip from their home in London to Scotland to visit Doug’s brother Gavin (Ben Miller) and his family who are throwing a party for their father Gordie (Billy Connolly) on his 75th birthday. Soon we discover a few things: Abi and Doug are separated and still fighting, their kids are all used to this and make light of it all and Doug’s father Gordie is suffering from cancer, which may just make this his last birthday.
Gordie is a simple granddad who loves his grand kids and just wants to live his life without being condescended to by his sons and their respective wives, all of who have deep-seated issues among themselves, which manifest in sometimes funny and sometimes disturbing ways.
Half way through the film granddad Gordi takes off with Doug’s three little kids to the beach for some quiet time of sandcastles and sensible conversation away from the bickering adults who are far more involved in the birthday party arrangements than in actually spending time with one another. And this is when the fascinating part of the story comes in. Grandpa talks to young Lottie (Emilia Jones) about life, adults and weird people. He plays a joke on the kids by pretending to die and then life plays a joke on him…
The kids decide that Grandpa’s wishes will never be fulfilled by grownups so they take it on themselves to give him the birthday wish he longed for leading to some complications for the grown up ‘kids’ to handle. Of course all the mayhem leads them to a closer and happier ending, which is a tad clichéd but the dark elements in the film played tongue-in-cheek make up for that.
The kids: Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and Harriet Turnbull outshine the adult actors with their wisdom, natural talent and magical personalities. You could’ve replaced all the actors with other actors and it would have made no difference. Except for Billy Connolly, of course, who is as delightfully ebullient as ever.
PS: The Indian Censor Board has blanked out plenty of the dialogue (even from the kids’ mouths).