Friday 26 April 2013

Grounded AKA Unaccompanied Minors (2006)

Kids having a bit of a riot while stranded in an airport, that's the premise of Grounded AKA Unaccompanied Minors and I must admit that while it did tick all of the usual boxes and while it did start off quite badly, I ended up quite enjoying myself with this one. It's not one that I'll rush to revisit any time soon, and I can't see it ending up with a place in my movie collection, but it has enjoyable moments here and there and it's certainly one that's easy enough to enjoy while the kids are laughing at it.

Basically, a bunch of kids are supposed to be flying on Christmas Eve, but the weather has put an end to that idea. When five of the kids (Charlie, Spencer, 'Beef', Grace and Donna) escape from the Unaccompanied Minors room they have a bit of fun in the airport before being caught by the unhappy head of customer relations (Lewis Black). They're taken back to the UM room and told that they will be staying there for the rest of Christmas Eve, despite the fact that the other kids have all now been taken to a nice lodge along the road. This is particularly bad news for Spencer (Dyllan Christopher), as he knows that he must find a way to get back to his little sister, who is now in the lodge, and ensure that a present "from Santa" is waiting for her when she wakes up. It's a battle of wills between the kids, the head of customer relations and his many staff (including Rob Riggle and Wilmer Valderrama).

Most parts of this movie, admittedly, have been done numerous times before. Better. The script by Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark doesn't have much bite to it (although Black, Valderrama, Rob Riggle and Rob Corddry get some fun moments) and director Paul Feig simply hits the notes that everyone is waiting for, including at least two montage moments.

Thankfully, the cast adds a lot of fun to the proceedings. The focus may be on Spencer trying to make Christmas right for his sister (Dominique Saldana) but the others get plenty to do. Gia Mantegna is fine as Grace, a typical "princess" type who Spencer ends up taking quite a shine to. Quinn Shephard is the other girl of the group, Donna, a bit of a tomboy, but not without an admirer either. Brett Kelly is quiet, but makes his presence known, as 'Beef'. And last, but by no means least, Tyler James Williams steals the movie as cheeky, but charming, Charlie Goldfinch. Williams is probably best known to people who enjoyed his comedic skills in Everybody Hates Chris and he creates laughter once again, whether he's trying to survive being moved around an airport in a suitcase or getting his groove on with a funky bit of music (the best montage moment). I've already mentioned the adults enough, maybe even too much already, but they do fine with what they're given.

It might start off unsteady, and there's a finale that almost disappears under sugary sweetness, but this has a fun middle section and proves to be fairly amusing, thanks in no small part to Tyler James Williams. Kids should enjoy it, though they probably won't rush to watch it again either.


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