What we did on our holiday

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Not recommended for children under 13 due to themes and coarse language

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for What we did on our holiday
  • a review of What we did on our holiday completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 February 2015.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not recommended due to themes and coarse language
Children 13 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: What we did on our holiday
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

What we did on our holiday is a family drama that follows the story of three children and who travel with their parents to their grandfather’s house for his birthday party.

Doug (David Tennant) and Abi (Rosamund Pike) have been separated for quite some time after Doug cheated on his wife, but decide to spare Doug’s terminally ill father Gordie (Billy Connolly) the stress since he is nearing the end of his life after a struggle with cancer. The pair and their three children, Lottie (Emilia Jones), Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge) and Jess (Harriet Turnbull), agree to lie to him and the rest of the extended family in order to maintain the ruse.

During the birthday party, Gordie goes down to the beach to play with his three grandchildren, but he dies unexpectedly while he is there with them. When the children realise, they immediately run back to the house to inform their parents. When they find Doug and Abi fighting with one another yet again, the children take it upon themselves to offer their grandfather the burial he hoped for – a Viking-style death where his body is cremated and then floated out to sea on a raft. After carrying this out, the children return home and confide what has happened to their parents.

When the police arrive to investigate, they are accompanied by a social worker named Agnes (Celia Imrie) who is very concerned about the children’s actions and the quality of the parenting they are receiving. Doug and Abi now have to defend themselves and prove that they are competent parents.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Family and parenting; marital breakdown; terminal illness and death

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is no physical violence within the film, however Doug and Abi verbally argue a great deal in front of their three children. This greatly upsets the children, and may distress younger viewers.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

Children in this age group may be scared by the aeguments and confused by the events surrounding Gordie's death

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the arguments between the parents, children in this age group may be disturbed by Gordie’s death and following events.

Gordie dies very suddenly whilst playing on the beach with his three grandchildren. Although the children attempt to tell their parents, they discover Doug and Abi fighting with one another and decide amongst themselves to grant Gordie his final wish by sending him out on a raft that they’ve set alight. This choice is later discovered by the media and social services, which initially perceive it as depraved and worrying. 

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be worried by Gordie’s death

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything I this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • During a particularly aggressive fight between a married couple, the woman yells to the man ‘If you don’t get out of this room, I’m going to shout out ‘rape’ out of this window!’
  • Reference to infidelity and ‘screwing’

Nudity and sexual activity

A couple kiss

Use of substances

An older character offers a child some of his prescription medicine to sell at school.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie that children may imitate, including:

  • ‘prick’; ‘wanker’; ‘shit’; ‘spaz’; ‘effing’; ‘crap’
  • the word ‘fuck’ mouthed
  • reference to ‘the c-word’

In a nutshell

What we did on our holiday is a touching comedy about the strength of family bonds, sacrifice and forgiveness. It portrays a marriage falling apart in a highly realistic manner, with secrets and venomous arguments poisoning the relationship between Doug and Abi. However, the film also highlights the ability of individuals to forgive, and move on from, previous mistakes in order to give people another chance.

The movie also depicts the maturity that young children can possess, as well as the depth of compassion and wisdom that can be behind their actions. Because it deals with family breakdown, and the illness and sudden death of a grandfather, the film is not recommended for children under thirteen.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • the importance of family, and attempting to work through differences and obstacles.
  • making sacrifices for the sake of others, even if it involves lying or misrepresenting the truth for someone else’s benefit.
  • the way in which children can be mature, responsible and self-aware, while adults may lack these qualities and behave in childish ways.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • the nature of terminal illness
  • the complexities of marriage, infidelity and separation and particularly the consequences of parental discord upon children
  • the tendency for the media to manipulate the truth for the sake of entertainment.