COMIC DRAMA; 1hr 35min
STARRING: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant, Billy Connolly
Family vacations are a ready-to-roll stress ball, especially when mum and dad have split up and can barely stand each other. Such is life for Abi and Doug McLeod (Pike and Tennant) as they motor laboriously with their three clamorous kids (Emilia Jones, Bobby Smalldridge and Harriet Turnbull) from London to the Scottish Highlands where Doug’s father, Gordie (Connelly), is celebrating his 75th birthday. Gordie has cancer and a weak heart, so for serenity’s sake Doug and Abi delusionally resolve to keep their acrimonious separation a secret. The best of British with that, guys, and with tolerating Doug’s starchy brother Gavin (Ben Miller) and his miserable wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore).
In any quirky, caprice-propelled story, truthful performances are the bedrock. The two couples do their quarrelsome bit, while the one-off Connolly is typically roguish and wise. (“The truth,” he says, pithily condensing Outnumbered writer-directors Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin’s entire screenplay into one line, “is every human being on this planet is ridiculous in their own way.”) But it’s the children who blindingly shine, taking charge in a crisis with pragmatic compassion that puts the misdirected adults to shame.