BUY IT AT AMAZON: CLICK HERE!
STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RUNNING TIME: 90 Minutes
• Dos and Don’ts – Commentary by Lewis Black, Director Paul Feig and Writers Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark
• Charlie’s Dance Reel
• Additional Scenes
• Guards in the Hall – a Hilarious Look at the Security Guards Out of Control
It’s like Die Hard 2 meets The Terminal meets Home Alone meets The 400 Blows meets SICK: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist.
Wilmer Valderrama, Lewis Black, Tyler James Williams, Dylan Christopher, Brett Kelly, Gina Mantegna, Quinn Shephard, and a slew of comedy ringers.
Another Hollywood starlet given ‘The Davis Treatment’.
Based on a true story culled from a segment of the NPR program This American Life, this story follows a group of children (a growing amount of children are left unaccompanied on flights, apparently) stuck in an airport on Christmas Eve due to a horrific snowstorm. They find companionship with one another but raise the ire of the airport manager (Black) and his assistant (Valderrama) when they escape from their holding area unsupervised. Hijinx ensue, lessons are learned, and pratfalls are had.
Everybody who has a sliver of humanity left in their bodies will admit to you that Freaks and Geeks is one of the greatest things ever to grace television screens in our short time here on Earth. The two men responsible for making this monument to young adulthood are Judd Apatow and Paul Feig. Apatow has gone on to bigger and better things, becoming the preeminent comedy director of his time with the one-two tiger uppercut of The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, while Feig has also kept himself busy working on top notch television programs like The Office and Arrested Development. Unaccompanied Minors isn’t Feig’s first foray into feature-length filmmaking (that honor goes to the as-yet-unseen-by-me flicks I Am David and Life Sold Separately), but it is his first attempt at a mainstream motion picture under the banner of a major studio. That it doesn’t hold up the work of his cohort Apatow is no surprise; this is a somewhat straightforward kid’s movie that doesn’t begin to show the complexity of human emotion like characters in Apatow’s recent efforts. It’s not a particularly good movie, and it’s that type of kid’s movie that’s not really for adults at all (that is to say, there’s limited appeal in terms of the quality, but I can’t imagine kids not lapping this up), but there are enough little things working in its favor to make it a bearable and sporadically entertaining viewing experience.
"I love your music Mr. White, but this is the worst Hemingway impersonation I’ve ever seen."
The biggest problems plaguing the movie are that there’s too many silly set pieces for there to be time to truly develop the characters, so most of the attempts at emotional resonance fall quite flat (especially worth noting is the weird moment given to Paget Brewster, as though a character who we’ve seen for 3 minutes of screen time really needs closure to her story). Also kind of wonky is the casting of Lewis Black in the role of the stuffy adult. The real joy in watching Lewis Black perform is that precipice he teeters on where you think at any point his head could pull a Scanners on the audience and cover them in gray matter. And in a kids movie there could be legitimate menace or humor mined from his generally exasperated delivery, but they don’t really utilize it at all. He’s a straight-arrow character, which seems like a complete miscast or misuse of his comedic talents. Instead of him getting incrementally more upset with the kid’s antics leading to some of his classic explosive fits of vitriol, he stays on an even annoyed keel. It’s just a massive wasted opportunity.
The Weekend at Bernie’s prequel was a tortured logic piece.
However, this isn’t a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination. There’s plenty of things that don’t fall flat in the movie and of the kids, Gina Mantegna and Tyler James Williams probably acquit themselves most nicely, their characters feeling the most natural of the main cast. The film also helps itself by acquiring a Murderer’s Row of comedic talent to step in for bit parts, but the most part they are working in the confines of a kid’s movie (Tony Hale and Mindy Kaling did actually elicit laughs from me in their performances and Cordry as the main character’s father is one of the few characters to actually feel fleshed out over the film’s running time) and aren’t actually doing much in the way of comedy, so you’re left with thinking of the actors in their funnier roles of the past. Just having recognizable comedic talent in minor roles is a good way to make a picture feel well-rounded though, so kudos on the casting. Also, a few other things that struck me as nice: that there’s an interracial relationship between two of the titular minors, that the film is sort of empowering for those who have suffered through a parent’s divorce, suggesting that there’s more than just the traditional family to be had, and David Gruber Allen with a chainsaw. Plus, Paul Feig seems to have some definite ability as a director, as he was able to, for the most part, juggle an ensemble cast and their bits of business around without losing any of the characters in the shuffle (something that’s hard to pull off). Again, can’t say that it’s recommended, but there are worse things your kids could subject you to than this.
The cover art actually replicates the poster art, so props go out to the marketing department for thinking whatever they utilized to try to entice people to see it in theaters would continue to work for the DVD. It also strikes the appropriate anarchic tone, although I’m curious to see what gang Gina Mantegna is associated with (one would assume the Criptegnas) according to whatever she’s flashing. There’s actually a nice little platter of extras to go along with this disc that in some cases are more interesting (at least for adults) than the movie might be. First up is a commentary featuring Feig, the writers and Lewis Black. Lewis provides some much needed levity throughout the proceedings, especially necessary due to the somewhat defensive tone struck by Feig when pointing out the critical drubbing the film took on numerous occasions, even busting out the “it’s a kids movie” defense. This film isn’t particularly bad, but being from a certain genre or geared towards a certain demographic doesn’t absolve a film from scrutiny regardless of whether it’s good or not.
The Everybody Hates Chris crossover with Nobody Really Has Any Feelings for Ally Sheedy One Way Or the Other played out as expected.
‘Charlie’s Dance Reel’ is a compilation of Tyler James Williams dancing from one of the more charming scenes in the movie with some bloopers intercut within. There are a handful of additional scenes that amount to really minor trims that I would assume either didn’t play in test audiences or just padded the screen time. None of them are bad, but none of them are particularly missed in the finished product either. The best feature of all is ‘Guards in the Hall’ which is just twenty solid minutes of Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, and Mark McKinney adlibbing bits as the security guards. The material in and of itself isn’t exactly hilarious, but it’s really fucking cool to watch these comedians work through the ad-libbing process, with McCulloch taking control and rebooting their conversations whenever one of their tangents runs into a dead end. A really fascinating bonus that was the best part of the entire disc for me, and makes it worthwhile for any fan of the Kids in the Hall or just watching comedy be conceived in a very raw sort of way. All in all, there are worse things your child could watch and at least you can get some smiles of recognition due to the cavalcade of comedy stalwarts that this film is comprised of.
6.3 out of 10