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.
If Rise of the Planet of the Apes successfully restarted the dormant Apes franchise, the superior Dawn indicates the grand saga this new iteration might become. More »
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