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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.78%
Worth A Look66.67%
Average: 25%
Pretty Bad: 5.56%
Total Crap: 0%

5 reviews, 6 user ratings

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Unaccompanied Minors
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by Jason Whyte

"Will somebody catch those kids?"
4 stars

Back in 1999, Paul Feig was my hero. He was one of the forces behind “Freaks and Geeks”, which still lives on as my favourite TV show, a series that only lasted a year yet flawlessly depicts teenage life in Michigan from the A/V geek side to the burnouts. It presented reality through an endlessly entertaining human comedy of characters, hilarious situations and painfully accurate references to the early 80’s era which Feig grew up in. Since then, Feig has had success in writing, television (he has directed many episodes of “The Office” and “Arrested Development”) and even the occasional film.

Here in 2006, Feig appears to be making a big-budget feature film to make some money so he (hopefully) can create the next comedic masterpiece. He doesn’t hit landmark status with the kid-pic “Unaccompanied Minors”, but the film is still funny enough with likeable kids and about half of the cast of Feig’s earlier work and new-and-old alumni from “The Daily Show”.

The threadbare story involves a group of kids flying out of the Hoover International Airport. Our leads include eager-to-please Charlie (Tyler James Williams), beauty Grace (Gina Mantegna), Aquaman-obsessed Timothy (Bret Kelly), tomboyish Donna (Quinn Shepard) and big-brother Spencer (Dylann Christopher) who has an alarmingly loud kid sister in tow.

Since all of these kids are flying alone, they are forced to wear the dreaded “Unaccompanied Minors” tags and escorted around by airport officials. When the airport is forced to suspend flights due to a massive snow storm, the kids are whisked off to a separate holding area.

The kids decide to sneak off and have fun around the airport (I guess we’ll just have to suspend our disbelief in our post 9/11, you-can’t-take-your-shampoo-onboard security) and when they are whisked back by security, they find out that the kids have been taken to a nearby posh hotel while they must remain in the holding room. The security is led by none other than “Daily Show’s” Lewis Black, a great comic actor that enjoys chewing the scenery and giving off a bit of menace…although he needed to do more of his trademark ranting.

A subplot involves Spencer’s dad (Rob Corddry) who ventures out into the snowstorm to get his kids, but has troubles since he’s an environmentalist and his hybrid car doesn’t work so well in bad weather. Here’s the first example of a movie I can think of where the reveal of a gas-guzzling SUV is frowned upon rather than a solution to a problem (“You’re running out of gas AGAIN? I filled you up three times already!”).

Meanwhile, the kids venture out once again into the airport and battle the wily security officials and the kids bond with one another, with the exception of Timothy who runs off and has a strange adventure of his own, mostly involving his complete dedication to Aquaman.

Of all the lead kids, I admired young Tyler James Williams who is best known for his role of young Chris Rock on “Everybody Hates Chris”. I haven’t seen the show, but I can sense a future comic star in this kid, who is so eager to please and enormously funny that he deserves a movie all on his own. I also really liked young Gina Mantegna (daughter of Joe) who has beauty, star-status and good comic timing.

Of the adults, Lewis Black has the most screen time and is a lot of fun to watch as the disgruntled security. Other Daily Show alumnus Rob Corddry and Rob Riggle have some fun here, there’s Dave (Gruber) Allen as an uber-friendly gas station attendant, and let’s not forget the Kids in the Hall who get to have some fun with musical chairs.

Here is a movie for kids that will definitely entertain its intended audience; normally I insist that a movie should work for absolutely everyone, but I liked the fact that the movie doesn’t talk down to kids. With the exception of a tedious finale involving celebrating Christmas in the Hoover departure terminal, the film’s energy is light and breezy enough that it won’t bore the parents. And credit must be given to Mr. Feig for knowing how to work with the kids and make them act a bit more real than all of the usual shouting and noise.

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originally posted: 12/13/06 04:18:17
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User Comments

8/21/07 prasanthan greates flim in the world!! I saw it 9 times in 3 days 5 stars
5/19/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 3 stars
4/18/07 David Pollastrini some funny bits here and there 3 stars
3/09/07 Marcia Zarwetten-Grassi Lame to minimally entertaining; I expected ti to be among "Bottom five movies in release" 3 stars
1/16/07 Jeff Anderson Not that terrible, but awfully bland. Paul Feig's genius is nowhere in sight here AT ALL!!! 2 stars
12/25/06 orpy r u kidding? Horrible, boring, pathetic! 2 stars
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  08-Dec-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 07-Aug-2007



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