Unaccompanied Minors


Rating: PG

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Released: Dec 8, 2006


Reviewed by Sara Michelle Fetters


Bland Minors Just Fine for Unaccompanied Kids


There is not a single thing wrong with “Unaccompanied Minors.” This holiday comedy of five children trapped in an airport on Christmas Eve is nowhere near as crass, loud, obnoxious, vulgar, violent or annoying as a person would have expected it to be. It doesn’t condescend to its audience and the morals it imparts are absolutely unarguable. Heck, a moment or two are even kind of sweet, so much so they actually managed to partially warm even my own critically cynical heart.


Nope, there is not a darn thing wrong with this film, nothing at all. Nothing, that is, if you’re under the age of twelve and sit squarely within the film’s pigeonholed targeted age group. For the rest of us, “Unaccompanied Minors” is a ninety-plus minute bore filled with so many cliché and warmed-over moments the best thing for adults to finally do is curl over in their theater seat and take a brief catnap.


Basically what you have here is your typical story of a group of misunderstood and completely different strangers coming together to form bonds of friendship they’d never expected. There’s working class Spencer (Dyllan Chrisopher), he and his sister Katherine (Dominique Saldaña) being sent by their mother cross-country to visit their father for Christmas. When the airport is shutdown thanks to a blinding snowstorm, he sneaks out of the Unaccompanied Minor Room to avoid the cascading chaos and projectile cupcakes being unleashed in every corner of the holding area.


Following him into the snowy world of the airport are spoiled rich girl Grace (Gina Mantegna), tomboy Donna (Quinn Shephard), overachiever Charlie (Tyler James Williams) and Aquaman fanboy Timothy “Beef” Wellington (Brett Kelly). With the facility’s Passenger Relations Manager Oliver Porter (Lewis Black) and his assistant Zach Van Bourke (Wilmer Valderrama) hot on their tails, this ragtag group decides to make the most of their evening sans parents, not only managing to come together in friendship but also unleashing the wonders of Christmas on bedraggled airport mired in commuter misery.


It’s pretty basic stuff, Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark’s screenplay not going too far beyond the “Home Alone” or “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” playbook. If anything, the writers hold a huge debt of gratitude to John Hughes and his whole oeuvre, “Unaccompanied Minors” nothing more than a “Breakfast Club” variation with great big globs of “Curly Sue” and “Uncle Buck” thrown in for good measure.


It’s a kid-flick smorgasbord of over the top hysterics and uncontrollable energy, and for the most part director Paul Feig (TV’s “The Office”) handles it all fairly respectably. The movie isn’t anywhere near as ghastly as I’d anticipated, a pleasant layer of tenderness enveloping it all making the picture impossible to hate no matter how hard a person tries. Better, for kids this film is an electric home run, the packed house of youngsters I saw it with enjoying it so thoroughly their giddiness was almost infectious.


Almost. This movie is strictly a pint-sized affair from the word “go,” and any adult walking into the thing shouldn’t expect anything more than a benign laugh or two and virtually nothing else. The adult actors walk through the thing like cartoon characters, while the kids are good enough to be bearable but nowhere near exceptional enough to invite an older person’s interests. It’s too obvious and far too silly to ever be taken seriously, and while a parent won’t remotely complain about the morals being imparted to their children having to watch the thing with them may be a trial even Hercules himself couldn’t accomplish.


So that’s that. If you’re under the age of twelve this movie is for you. If you’re any older than that you might as well just stay at home. It’s not a recommendation and it’s not a rejection, instead it’s a review falling somewhere ineffectually right in the middle. Granted, saying so doesn’t make for much of a critique but then, when you’re talking about something like “Unaccompanied Minors,” what else could you possibly expect?

Film Rating: ê
ê  (out of 4)



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