Let's face it, there is a subgenre of family films that prepubescents absolutely love, the one where the kids outsmart the evil, bumbling adults. Every generation has had them, from `The Little Rascals' to one of my personal childhood favorites, `The Goonies'. `Unaccompanied Minors' is yet another entry into this subgenre, sure to excite children into being even more wild and uncontrollable as we approach this holiday season.
Part `Home Alone', part `The Great Escape', `Unaccompanied Minors' mixes elements from the two, but puts them on the ultimate sugar rush. When a blizzard hits the Midwest all flights are grounded on Christmas Eve, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded, most notably the `Unaccompanied Minors'.
So what do you do with a bunch of rowdy, sugar filled, and parentless rug rats? Well if you are a grumpy, "Scrooge-like" airport manager played by stand up comedian Louis Black, you lock them in a basement and put Fez (Wilmer Valderrama) from `That 70's Show' in charge of them. Unfortunately for the upper brass of the airport there are a few youngsters who don't follow like the other "sheep" and sneak out only to cause some holiday mischief.
What ensues is a cat and mouse-like chase throughout the airport as Spencer (Dyllan Christopher) and his newly found posse, the self proclaimed "UM's", attempt to save the Christmas spirit for Spencer's doubtful, younger sister. Of course some of the adventures along their quest are downright silly, including sliding down baggage chutes and a high speed, Looney Toons-ish sled race down a snowy, seemingly never ending, hill. Now ignoring the fact that a mountain-like hill next to an airport, which requires vast amount of flat space to operate, is completely illogical, it does make for an amusing scene in the context of `Unaccompanied Minors'.
Granted there is enough material to keep the youngsters more than entertained, including even the faintest hint of romance for the few who are starting to realize the opposite sex might not have cooties after all, `Unaccompanied Minors' doesn't always forget the adults either. Perhaps the best nod to the begrudging parents who have been dragged to `Unaccompanied Minors' comes from the appearance of "The Kid" from `Bad Santa'. As one of the rouge members of "The UM's" the young actor, Brett Kelly, who warmed Billy Bob's icy heart a few Christmases back is back paying homage to his former character by quipping more of the strange and completely illogical jargon that we have come to love him for. Just wait until you hear his explanation of what Christmas really is.
So if `Unaccompanied Minors' is just a bunch of smart mouth kids, running amok and causing hell for a bunch of adults on Christmas Eve, where exactly is the substantial value for families to take their children? Well by then end of the story everything comes together for some good old fashioned Christmas morals. Miracles happen, families, new and old, are reunited and of course our "Scrooge" character finally discovers the value of Christmas. In fact the sugar coated finale of `Unaccompanied Minors' is so sweet, and surprisingly fulfilling, that many of the illogical, childish happenings throughout the film can be forgiven.
In a way `Unaccompanied Minors' isn't anything we haven't seen before. It follows in the same vein as its brethren wholeheartedly. While it may not be as good as the films that came before it, `Unaccompanied Minors' is a surprisingly fun treat that the whole family can enjoy. Who would have thought Christmas Eve at an airport could be so much fun?