Director: Paul Feig | 90 minutes | comedy, family | Actors: Lewis Black, Wilmer Valderrama, Tyler James Williams, Dyllan Christopher, Brett Kelly, Gina Mantegna, Quinn Shephard, Paget Brewster, Rob Corddry, Dominique Saldana, Jessica Walter, Rob Riggle, Michelle Sandler, David Koechner, BJ Novak, Mindy Kaling
Unaccompanied minors are young people who are stranded at an airport unaccompanied. In the case of this American Christmas film of the same name, we are dealing with five teenagers who have to wait at a snowed-in airport until they can get to their destination. The group is composed entirely according to the rules of the American youth film: Nerd, All American Boy, Weirdo, Tomboy and Spoiled Rich Girl. What they have in common is that they have problems with their parents, whether or not divorced, and that they want to turn the airport upside down to dispel boredom.
The result is a film that tries to unite two genres: slapstick as in ‘Home Alone’ and serious youth film as in ‘The Breakfast Club’. In practice, these two genres appear to be barely compatible. Slapstick mainly works with characters that tend towards the caricatural. With lifelike characters like in ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ the slapstick works a lot less, whereby the many blows that are dealt are more painful than funny. On the other hand, it is a bit tricky to take seriously the problems of youngsters speeding down a snowy slope in a canoe-promoted canoe, while left and right their adult pursuers are hurled into the Christmas night.
It is even more annoying that this so-called Christmas film lacks the Christmas feeling completely. Although there are some Christmas attributes popping up and Santa Claus – as in most Christmas movies – threatens to leave, it has little to do with real Christmas sentiment. The funny skirmishes in ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ are miles away from that. Instead of the specific Christmas feeling, we are treated to the life lessons and the syrupy sentiment that Hollywood has been feeding us with for the rest of the year.
All in all, ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ has become a difficult combination of ‘Home Alone’, ‘The Terminal’ and ‘The Breakfast Club’. This film is also proof that a Christmas movie requires more than a thick layer of snow, some cheerful lights and a stray Christmas tree. Perhaps (pre) adolescents who feel too old for tap dancing penguins will have some fun with this. But when it comes to a nice Christmas movie, you better pull out ‘Love Actually’ again.