Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors

Directed by Paul Feig. Starring Lewis Black, Wilmer Valderrama, Tyler James Williams, Dyllan Christopher, Brett Kelly, Gina Mantegna, Quinn Shephard, Dominique Saldana, Paget Brewster, Rob Corddry, Jessica Walter, Teri Garr. (2006, PG, 89 min.)

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Dec. 8, 2006

The Breakfast Club in The Terminal? Home Alone meets Planes, Trains & Automobiles? Calling John Hughes: Former Freaks and Geekster Paul Feig has got your number. Feig, who went on to direct numerous TV episodes of The Office and Arrested Development, has now directed this holiday kids' picture that’s neither good enough to be an instant classic nor bad enough to disappear from video stores’ seasonal rental shelves for many Christmases to come. Unaccompanied Minors is a pretty much by-the-numbers comedy about a half-dozen kids trapped by weather in an airport on Christmas Eve. They create lots of mischief to flummox the Scroogey airport chief (Black) and his head flunky (Valderrama) who’s assigned to watch over the children. (Those in the know might also recognize three Kids in the Hallers – Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney – as hapless security guards.) Though the adult roles demand nothing more than moments of toothless sputtering, the child actors have all been well-cast. There’s the de facto leader of the group (Christopher), his kid sister (Saldana), the rich girl (Mantegna), the tomboy (Shephard), the black kid (Williams from Everybody Hates Chris), and the fat kid (Kelly from Bad Santa). They run amok, create havoc, share secrets, and plug Sharper Image products – all without terribly much imagination but effective execution nevertheless. Corddry gets the best laughs of the movie as a divorced dad who’s driving through the snowstorm to rescue his kids and has to abandon his beloved biodiesel vehicle for a hated Hummer. Unaccompanied Minors isn’t likely to become a frequent flyer, but it could strike a chord among children of divorce for many holiday seasons to come.

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