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UNACCOMPANIED MINORS

SYNOPSIS:
When Spencer Davenport (Dyllan Christopher) and his sister Katherine (Dominique Saldana) are snowed in at Chicago Airport on Christmas Eve, they find themselves trapped in a cell with a group of other children lost in transit. In an attempt to escape, Spencer forms an alliance with several of these strangers, including a studious young man, Charlie Goldfinch (Tyler James Williams), and a heroic tomboy, Donna Malone (Quinn Shephard). The kids improvise a holiday by staging various creative stunts - disguising themselves as luggage and sliding around on conveyor belts - while being pursued by security officers Oliver Porter (Lewis Black) and Zach Van Bourke (Wilmer Valderrama). Meanwhile, Spencer's dad Sam (Rob Corddry) drives across the country to try and reach his family by Christmas.

Review by Lesley Chow:
Given the formula of a pre-teen comedy, the best thing is to cast realistically charming children and let them romp. The young actors in this film are all capable, but they're such polished professionals - in particular, Dyllan Christopher has the jaded manner of a veteran comic. The most impressive performer - a stylish little actor named Tyler James Williams - even comes with his own retro walk and dance moves.

As a director of edgy TV comedy (Arrested Development, The Office), Paul Feig is used to balancing snarky dialogue and emotion - he might have been expected to inject more weirdness into this family film. Yet he seems to reserve the best humour for his adult cast - for instance, a security guard who composes an ode to the Slinky, and a cameo from Teri Garr (sublime as always) as a ditzy aunt. Feig appears to have had little chemistry with his child actors - there's a dopey large boy (Brett Kelly) who tags along for no obvious reason, other than mockery. A plot involving several children who have neuroses about Santa is intriguing, but never followed through. Even though each kid is defined by a single talent - shopping, music, a knowledge of action figures - none of these skills come to play in the end.

However, there should be enough physical gags here - like the running joke involving a pop-up Santa who scares everyone - to keep most young audiences amused. This is a pretty agreeable farce but it could have done with sharper lines and more spontaneous kids.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

UNACCOMPANIED MINORS (PG)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Dyllan Christopher, Dominique Saldana, Tyler James Williams, Lewis Black, Wilmer Valderrama, Gina Mantegna, Quinn Shephard, Dominique Saldana, Brett Kelly, Rob Corddry, Teri Garr

PRODUCER: Michael Aguilar, Lauren Shuler Donner

DIRECTOR: Paul Feig

SCRIPT: Jacob Meszaros, Mya Stark

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christopher Baffa

EDITOR: George Folsey jnr, Brad E. Wilhite

MUSIC: Michael Andrews

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Erin Cochran

RUNNING TIME: 82 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 30, 2006







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