"Unaccompanied Minors" is directed by Paul Fieg, who was Emmy-nominated for his work on the popular series, "Freaks and Geeks", and has more recently directed episodes of "Arrested Development" and "The Office". The film also pulls in an array of talented actors, such as Jessica Walter ("Arrested Development"), Rob Corddry and Lewis Black ("The Daily Show") and BJ Novak and Mindy Kaling ("The Office".) Even former "Kids in the Hall" stars Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney have cameos.
So, my question is, what did all of these talented people see in a generic family comedy that's essentially "Home Alone" in an airport? This hyperactive little picture stars Dyllan Spencer as...Spencer, a teenager who finds himself among many teenagers stuck at Hoover International Airport when a snowstorm strands them on Christmas Eve.
Herded by attendant Zach (Wilmer Valderrama) into a room where all the other hyperactive unaccompanied minors are currently running around wild and throwing whatever's not nailed down, Spencer finds a few friends in Grace (Gina Mantegna), Charlie (Tyler James Williams), Donna (Quinn Shephard) and Timothy (Brett Kelly, of "Bad Santa"). The group manages to easily wander off from the group when Zach and the other two attendants get too busy trying to look after all the other kids, and wander off into the airport. As the other kids get sent off to a nearby lodge, airport manager Oliver (Lewis Black) isn't exactly pleased when he finds he has to face off against a set of kids who are now running around the hallways of the airport (so much for security.)
I think what disappoints me about "Unaccompanied Minors" is that Fieg, after all he's done on three great, smart TV shows, has chosen to go on autopilot with "Unaccompanied Minors". He's dealing with a script from Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark that's really pretty thin in the way of plot (something about how Spencer has to find his younger sister, who he's been separated from) and instead of a thoughtful, fun holiday movie, it's essentially a long chase sequence with some fart jokes. There's some slightly more emotional moments as the kids discuss their lives (and, of course, Black's grumpy character turns into a nice guy very abruptly towards the end of the movie), but these moments aren't particularly well integrrated into a movie that seems more concerned with slapstick. Oh, and of course, the kids are crafty and the adults act like the Three Stooges.
The film's performances aren't bad, as Kelly and Christopher offer a pair of amusing efforts that elevate the material a bit. Mantegna, who's the daughter of Joe Mantegna, is also good. Lewis Black is Lewis Black, and funny once again, even in a role that seems like it was about the check (in the commentary, Black notes early on, "If you're watching this in a film studies class, they owe you money.")
"Unaccompanied Minors" certainly had the potential to be a memorable, fun holiday romp, but it's put on standby thanks to a lowbrow, slapstick-heavy script.
VIDEO: "Unaccompanied Minors" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphi cwidescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame, with each presentation on one single-layer side of a dual-sided DVD. The presentation quality was just average. The picture seemed crisp, but a tad dark, as fine details like hair were often not visible. Some minor edge enhancement also appeared at times, as well. Colors appeared slightly smeary at times, but generally looked okay. Overall, this was just an average effort.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack was a pure comedy mix, with really very little for the rear speakers to do, aside from provide a few minor instances of slight ambience. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: Commentary by director Paul Fieg, writers Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark and actor Lewis Black. We also get additional footage of the dance sequence by Williams and the three guards.
Final Thoughts: "Unaccompanied Minors" has a lot of talent on-board, but the script causes some considerable turbulence. The DVD presentation offers decent image quality and fine audio quality, along with a nice array of extra features.
The Film C-