Only kids would consider getting snowed in at a major airport "fun," and they are, of course, the intended audience for this surprisingly limp farce. Adults will just have to suffer in silence. Unaccompanied Minors is a loud, antic but only intermittently amusing romp about a group of kid movie stereotypes running amok in the concourses on Christmas Eve. Helmer Paul Feig has a distinguished pedigree as the creator of the teen masterpiece Freaks and Geeks, and somebody must've assumed he could work that old magic on big screen tweens. They were wrong.
The young actors are pleasant but disposable, except for Bad Santa star Brent Kelly, as the creepy fat kid with an unhealthy obsession with his Aquaman action figure.
The upside is that Feig used his status as a director of top-flight television comedies like Arrested Development and The Office to call in a few favors, and the film is littered with cameos from such funny grown-ups as Tony Hale, Jessica Walters, and David Koechner and Rob Corddry. Feig even managed a mini-reunion of the great Kids in the Hall (well, three out of five ain't bad), but even they can't do much to squeeze laughs from the cookie-cutter script. That doesn't stop the cast from trying, especially Vilmer Valderama, who hams it up as a dorky attendant, and Lewis Black, who almost bursts a blood vessel as the Grinch who stole scenes with hammy acting. Really, who wants to see Black's angry rants watered down in a PG flick? Probably the same folks who cackle at children getting stuffed into luggage or at the sight of security guards getting repeatedly hit in the nuts. The ceaseless slapstick starts to grate quickly, though the movie is full of amiable yuletide cheer and not nearly as crass as similar entries in the Holiday humor genre (I'm looking at you, Deck the Halls). It's also unabashedly a Christmas movie, and doesn't make even a momentary concession to political correctness or even mention the season's other holidays an odd twist in a studio picture that's otherwise as predictable as turbulence over the Rockies and as forgettable as airline food.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].