Many unaccompanied grown-ups are probably psyched to go see the kiddie-league comedy Unaccompanied Minors. Its director, Paul Feig, was the head mind behind TV’s cult classic Freaks and Geeks, the wise and wholly mature evocation of painful high-schooldom. Feig has the capacity to work well with children while also speaking directly to adults — which is why the strictly-for-kids Minors feels like a botch.
During Christmas week, six preteens from Breakfast Club walks of life get stranded in a snowed-in Midwestern airport, and the movie quickly establishes itself as precisely the poorly done kind of Hollywood fantasy where almost every adult in the building promptly falls asleep in the waiting areas, as if this were a zombie film. Practically the only one still vertical enough to chase the scamps around is the airport honcho played by The Daily Show’s Lewis Black, who was not meant to deliver his usual apoplexy to children. He is not that funny; nor are any of the movie’s many cameo performers (including a few players from The Office and Arrested Development); nor is the film as a whole. When, near the end, Rob Corddry gets an out-of-nowhere chuckle by goofing on the ”down-low” nature of a high five from the little girl playing his kid, it registers more like a shock than a laugh. Feig does wring out a few fleeting fun/heartfelt moments from the minors, and the movie’s Christmas treacle is smoother than Santa Clause 3’s. But anyone old enough to go see this without a parent or guardian will have seen it all before.