Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Unaccompanied Minors

Illustration for article titled Unaccompanied Minors

Freaks And Geeks creator Paul Feig fills his maddeningly busy holiday comedy Unaccompanied Minors with self-contained bits of comic business, but only one moment really stands out: the one where charming Tyler James Williams—Chris Rock's pint-sized doppelgänger in Everybody Hates Chris—celebrates stumbling onto an eight-track of a jazz standard by performing an uninhibited dance of joy. In that moment alone, the film temporarily escapes its long jags of hyperactivity and captures the exhilaration of being free from family responsibilities and adult supervision on Christmas Eve. Otherwise, Feig's frustrating comedy shackles itself to an overstuffed plot that it'd be better off ignoring.

Leading a sprawling cast filled out with familiar faces from The Office, Arrested Development, and The Daily Show, Williams and Dyllan Christopher—who appears to have been cloned from Jesse Eisenberg's DNA—play two of five kids who escape their adult keepers and run amok in an airport on Christmas Eve. In a performance that simultaneously exploits and neuters his perpetually apoplectic Daily Show persona, Lewis Black co-stars as the short-tempered airport-manager type forced to track down the misbehaving youths.

Unaccompanied Minors is packed with talent in front of and behind the camera—This American Life's Ira Glass gets an executive-producer credit—which makes its bland mediocrity even more unforgivable. In a characteristic move, the film brings together Kids In The Hall stalwarts Mark McKinney, Bruce McCulloch, and Kevin McDonald as security guards, then gives them nothing to do. Why bother reuniting three-fifths of a beloved comedy troupe, then treat them like glorified extras? The film is too busy hurling its cast from one labored slapstick setpiece to another to loosen up and allow them to have fun or be spontaneous. Unaccompanied Minors' frenetic plot ultimately functions like a Rube Goldberg contraption: It exerts a lot of time and energy while accomplishing very little.