×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Unaccompanied Minors

Kids run amuck while stranded on Christmas Eve at a snowed-in airport in the comedy "Unaccompanied Minors." Fast-paced, slickly handled kidpic probably won't create a stampede to the box office amid heavy Yuletide competition. But it's a crowdpleaser -- at least for crowds aged about 6 to 12 -- that should translate into modest theatrical returns before lucrative future seasons of annual rental and broadcast cheer.

With:
Oliver Porter - Lewis Black Zach Van Bourke - Wilmer Valderrama Charlie - Tyler James Williams Spencer - Dyllan Christopher Timothy "Beef" Wellington - Brett Kelly Grace - Gina Mantegna Donna - Quinn Shephard Valerie Davenport - Paget Brewster Sam Davenport - Rob Corddry Katherine - Dominique Saldana

Kids run amuck while stranded on Christmas Eve at a snowed-in airport in the comedy “Unaccompanied Minors.” Fast-paced, slickly handled kidpic probably won’t create a stampede to the box office amid heavy Yuletide competition. But it’s a crowdpleaser — at least for crowds aged about 6 to 12 — that should translate into modest theatrical returns before lucrative future seasons of annual rental and broadcast cheer.

A busy midwestern airport (pic was shot in Utah) is the layover point for a holiday season-full of travelers, including kids going solo, with most being passed from one divorced parent to another. Among them are a barely adolescent quintet first introduced on various department store Santas’ laps: Dorky but cute Spencer (Dyllan Christopher), towing his crybaby little sis Katy (Dominique Saldana); princessy rich girl Grace (Gina Mantegna); Donna (Quinn Shephard), a tomboy with anger-management issues; brainiac Charlie (Tyler James Williams); and massive “Beef” (Brett Kelly), who communicates primarily with his Aquaman action figure.

When weather conditions cancel all flights, no one is more upset than passenger relations chief Mr. Porter (Lewis Black), who was greatly looking forward to a Hawaiian vacation rather than working his 15th Christmas in a row.

Unaccompanied minors are shepherded into a cavernous basement room where, with unlucky Zach (Wilmer Valderrama), the sole staffer assigned to mind them, they fast create conditions akin to a prison riot.

Cycles of escape, recapture and punishment ensue, though a climactic infusion of Christmas spirit helps keep results merry.

There’s little here that will interest most grownups or teens, but “Unaccompanied Minors” generally avoids the crassness of so many recent family pics, as well as excess mawkishness. (There’s a little of the latter in the last lap, pointing an accusatory finger at divorced or uncaring parents, but scenarists and helmer refrain from laying it on too thick.) Though dialogue is routine, situations are colorful enough, product placements not too over-the-top (aggressively plugged The Sharper Image aside), and the ultimate community-minded message transcends the usual orgies of slapstick destruction and gift acquisition that too many contempo live-action kidpics seem to primarily support.

Juve leads are affable, with Williams (star of “Everybody Loves Chris”) getting a couple standout moments, especially when he demonstrates precocious dancing chops.

Black doesn’t do anything special with his Scrooge-y part, while Valderrama is stuck in an innocuous straight-man role. Faring better are “Saturday Night Live’s” Rob Riggle and three Kids in the Hall (Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney) as blundering security guards. Teri Garr and Jessica Walter have small parts; Rob Corddry has an entertaining larger one as Spencer and Katy’s dad, who braves the blizzard in his bio-diesel car to rescue them from airport purgatory.

Widescreen lensing and design contribs have a bright, polished look; Michael Andrews’ original score and a neat soundtrack selection of old and new holiday tunes are also plusses. While this may not be the hippest assignment for helmer Paul Feig, known largely for his TV work, he does an expert job with unremarkable material that suggests more bigscreen assignments should be forthcoming.

Unaccompanied Minors

Production: A Warner Bros. release presented in association with Village Roadshow Pictures of a Donners' Co. production. Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner, Michael Aguilar. Executive producers, Ira Glass, Carrie Morrow, Julie Snyder, Michael Lambert, Bruce Berman. Directed by Paul Feig. Screenplay, Jacob Meszaros, Mya Stark, based on the story "Babysitting" by Susan Burton.

Crew: Camera (color, Panavision widescreen), Christopher Baffa; editors, George Folsey Jr., Brad E. Wihite [that's correct, it's not White]; music, Michael Andrews; music supervisor, Jennifer Hawks; production designer, Aaron Osborne; art director, Erin Cochran; set decorator, Jennifer M. Gentile; costume designer, Lisa Tomczeszyn; sound (Dolby Digital), Christopher S. Aud; assistant director, Mathias Alvarez; casting, Allison Jones. Reviewed at AMC Kabuki, San Francisco, Dec. 3, 2006. MPAA rating: PG. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: Oliver Porter - Lewis Black Zach Van Bourke - Wilmer Valderrama Charlie - Tyler James Williams Spencer - Dyllan Christopher Timothy "Beef" Wellington - Brett Kelly Grace - Gina Mantegna Donna - Quinn Shephard Valerie Davenport - Paget Brewster Sam Davenport - Rob Corddry Katherine - Dominique SaldanaWith: Jessica Walter, Teri Garr, Robb Riggle, Michelle Sandler, David Koechner, Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, Dave Allen, Al Roker.

More Film

  • Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona'

    Box Office: 'Curse of La Llorona' Wins Worst Easter Weekend in Over a Decade

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “The Curse of La Llorona” ascended to the top of domestic box office charts, conjuring $26.5 million when it opened in 3,372 North American theaters. “La Llorona” is the latest horror movie to outperform expectations, further cementing the genre as a reliable box office draw. Even so, “La Llorona” and [...]

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content