Warner Bros. // 2006 // 90 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 13th, 2007
Six kids, stuck in an airport without supervision. Someone please call security.
PRODUCER: Kids are stupid right?
ASSISTANT TO THE PRODUCER: You bet.
PRODUCER: So we can make this crappy, unfunny, witless dry hump of a movie, give it a PG rating and some corny Christmas moments and package it as a family film and they'll probably come?
ASSISTANT TO THE PRODUCER: Sounds right.
PRODUCER: Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!
When an airport gets snowed in, an adventurous group of kids decide to defy authority and run wild. The exasperated passenger affairs bigshot, Mr. Porter (Lewis Black) dispatches his crack team of security guards to retrieve the kids, but, wouldn't you know it, these diabolical pre-adolescents manage to outsmart and out-maneuver them every step of the way.
Led by clever little bastard Spencer (Dyllan Christopher), the self-described "UMs" race through the airport so Spencer can deliver a special Christmas present to his bratty little sister, this securing her belief in Santa Claus. Along the way, the kids take a ride on a golf cat, slide around the baggage carousel, rocket down a ski slope in a canoe and crawl through vents like those other kids did in Jurassic Park. Tyler James Williams from Everybody Hates Chris and Wilmer Valderrama from That 70's Show also star.
Let me get this out of the way first: I would seriously contemplate ramming a Candy Cane into my ear canal instead of having to endure this charm-free, laugh-free, plot-free, joy-free family film again. What, just because you're making a PG-rated family film -- a hard sight to come by these days in the theatre -- you think you can get away with subjecting your audience to 90 minutes of cinematic hatred? Paul Feig, who's directed episodes of Arrested Development and The Office (both shows have presences here in the form of actor cameos), should know what's funny and what's godforsaken, but perhaps he was drunk on eggnog and Christmas cheer because he totally missed the one-horse open sleigh here.
Unaccompanied Minors is not funny. It's not heart-warming. It's annoying. Annoying from the opening credits to when I took the disc out of my DVD player and dropped it between the couch cushions and had to dig around for a moment to retrieve it. Let's look at all the annoying elements of this movie:
This is the death-blow, right here. If we're going to spend an hour and half with five kids, they better be charismatic and entertaining. Not so here. All the performances are forced and lack a functioning aorta, much less a beating heart. Most disappointing is Tyler James Williams, a charmer in his sitcom but awkward and out of his element here.
Lewis Black screams a lot and Jessica Walter is totally wasted. The security guards make the Dennis Franz's inept goons in Die Hard 2 look like the Secret Service. Rob Corddry is moderately funny as the hippie father forced to drive a Hummer -- God forbid! -- through the snowstorm to pick up his kids.
The Very Special Message
So, I'm no Puritanical stickler, but is it really worth risking your life and breaking all kinds of rules and endangering the bodily well-being of others to bring your snotty little sister a doll for Christmas? I must have missed that point in the first few chapters of Luke.
I don't really need to spell this out for you, do I?
Warner Brothers included both the full frame and 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen version of the film on a dual-sided disc. The only one that matters, the widescreen, looks fine, but the video quality is nothing special. The 5.1 sound mix fares a little better as it uses the surrounds in several of the busier sequences. Extras are less than impressive: Paul Feig, Lewis Black and writers Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark deliver a defensive commentary, and the bonus footage (an extended dance reel, a few pointless deleted scenes and the only semi-amusing offering, an extended improv session with three of the Kids in the Hall who guest starred as guards) doesn't ass much to the overall package.
Ugh. I sure am glad I can watch movies without parental supervision or I'd be forced to sit through this tripe.
This one is not cleared for takeoff.
Review content copyright © 2007 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Cast and Crew Commentary
* "Charlie's Dance Reel"
* Additional Scenes
* "Guards in the Hall" Bonus Footage
* Official Site