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Unaccompanied Minors is Harmless

Published December 7, 2006 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Warner Bros.
Unaccompanied Minors Poster Unaccompanied Minors
Unaccompanied Minors is a harmless kids movie. It’s not brilliant like the really great ones, but it’s not offensive like most of them. It straddles that line between really challenging entertainment and total pandering to the masses.

Movie Review: Unaccompanied Minors


When a blizzard closes the airways, all the kids traveling alone for Christmas are stuck at the airport. Most of them eventually go to a hotel, but five miss the boat when they’re roaming around the terminal disobeying authority. Now totally snowed in, they face off against a grumpy security manager (Lewis Black) and his wussy lackey (Wilmer Valderrama), struggling to have a happy holiday despite the depressing circumstances.

The jokes are purely for kids. High strung Charlie (Tyler James Williams) faints at the sight of a department store Santa Claus. Popular Grace (Gina Mantegna) bets whether a chic young Santa is hot under his beard. Dorky Spencer (Dyllan Christopher) gets laughed at for demonstrating how to sit on Santa’s lap to his sister. Valderrama says “Aye caramba.” That sort of thing.

None of this makes me groan. I mean, a pre-teen worrying about getting into Harvard is an easy exaggeration, but at least it expects kids to know what Harvard is. The pop up santa scaring pedestrians is a funnier display of outlandish festivity than anything in Deck the Halls.


Lewis Black has the perfect reactions for these antics. His natural expressions are already so cartoonish that they apply brilliantly to these situations. He deals with the kids as legitimate dramatic opposition, never playing down to them. When they smack talk him with childish put downs, he handles them like standup hecklers.

Unaccompanied Minors has more airport action than Die Hard 2. They really milk every aspect of the place for slapstick romps. They pillage the luggage conveyors, ride the golf carts and even climb through the air vents. The filmmakers really keep the pace going so it’s not all silly jokes. There’s some excitement too.

It feels long. There’s a totally sensible resolution one hour into the movie. I looked at my watch and couldn’t believe there was a whole third act still to go.

The message is worthwhile. Children of divorce do go through solitary travels, making the best of situations is important and different kids should learn to be friends. This actually has more resolution than The Breakfast Club.

Look, they usually churn these movies out so that parents will dump their kids in front of anything to avoid talking to them. At least they put a little thought into this. It’s not great but it serves its purpose.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Warner Bros.
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