The best thing that can be said for Unaccompanied Minors is that its premise, at least, is original: the plight of underage air travelers, and what can happen when they're stuck too long in a snowbound airport layover. Chicago's "Hoover Airport" provides the setting for new kid arrivals Spencer Davenport (Dyllan Christopher) and sister Katherine (Dominique Saldana), and The Breakfast Club provides the obvious inspiration for the assortment of misfits they encounter. There's alienated tomboy Donna (an unappetizing Quinn Shephard), nerdy frequent flier Charlie (Tyler James Williams, strenuously pushing his "Everybody Hates Chris" charm), spa-loving princess Grace (Gina Mantegna, who looks to be about 20) and jolly fat kid "Beef" (Brett Kelly). They wreak havoc in every way imaginable while a passenger-relations manager (a too easily cast, but nonetheless miscast, Lewis Black, blustering more than Lionel Barrymore ever dreamt of doing) and his hapless minion (Wilmer Valderrama, in desperate search of a film career) stew in frustration.
Directed by Paul Feig (who's seen better days with TV's "Arrested Development") and written by Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark, the film is frenetic and forced and may appeal to not very discriminating children, hopped up on concession candy, but the kiddie preview crowd I saw it with greeted it in mostly subdued silence. Jessica Walter appears in a small role as a somewhat superannuated, hilariously uncaring, horny stewardess and her few scenes are like manna from heaven for the adults, but Teri Garr has been made to act too cutesy as a Christmas-loving pal of Spencer's mom (Paget Brewster). (The gigantic Santa jack-in-the-box on her front lawn which terrifies passersby is funny the first time, but then belabored.) The kids, for the most part, have that commercially over-aware precociousness which makes you itch for a strap, but Christopher has a quieter appeal and Kelly is rather sweet as a bully target obsessed with his Aquaman doll.
Here’s an updated Annie for today’s entitled, tech-savvy and racially diverse generation of tweens who can easily relate to the new Annie’s love of luxurious toys. Their parents and other adults may miss the sweet innocence of the original, but they won’t be entirely bored by this frenetic new version of her classic story. More »
After rewriting the rules for modern fantasy cinema, for the better and worse, Peter Jackson’s six-film Tolkien saga slams, bangs and shudders to a long-overdue conclusion. More »
» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.
ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION
Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.
Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.