Opening 20 Nov 2014
Divorcing parents Abi (Rosamund Pike) and Doug (David Tennant) pack up their lively brood Lottie (9), Mickey (6) and Jess (4) to drive up to the family estate in Scotland for Grandpa’s birthday. In order not to upset the gravely ill man, the children have been instructed to pretend everything is A-OK at the home front. A concept they don’t quite grasp, and though they try hard, inadvertently truths get revealed. Other relatives also try to make sure their ‘skeletons stay in the closet’, and while everybody is super busy planning and stressing over the party details, the kids (Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge, Harriet Turnbull) and grandpa (Billy Connolly) enjoy some real quality time at the beach. The trio creates havoc when they follow their grandfather’s last wish to the ‘T’.
As the original (school essay-) title suggests, the focus is on the kids. They often have been encouraged to improvise – with hilarious results. But for a long stretch the film also seems to be geared to children only. The script – pleasant but not terribly exiting – is more suitable for a sitcom. In light of Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin being the director/writer team behind the successful British TV series Outnumbered, this might not surprise. They do know how to write funny dialogues though, and the cast knew just how to deliver them. (Carola A)