Those were the words uttered from my mouth as I opened the latest DVD package from Warner Home Video. While it contained a film I eagerly awaited (TMNT) with it, I had no idea this film was even coming out on DVD. There’s really no excuse or reason for these children’s films be produced any longer, but studios insist on pushing them out the gate to make a quick bit of revenue. Even though this film made less worldwide than it cost to produce, I’ve no doubt that it will make the money it lost back in DVD sales…sadly enough.
Unaccompanied Minors is the tale of five minors who band together inside an airport as their flights are cancelled due to a snow storm. While the other myriad of children are taken to a nearby hotel to sleep, these five kids sneak out of the children’s area and miss their ride to the hotel and are forced to stay behind at the airport. Of course they won’t have any of that and instead decide to make it an obnoxious Christmas Eve for the airport staff and airport director, Oliver Porter (played by Lewis Black).
The film is just about as bad as you think it would be. None of the situations the kids are in are humorous and the dialogue is clearly written for children. You’re probably saying “Well, duh, it’s a children’s movie!”, but if it were written like “Home Alone in an airport” as one critic stated, then I would have had a lot less to argue about with this film. There is a line between children’s movies and children’s movies that adults can enjoy and while there are a few worthwhile jokes in the film for adults as well as children, the majority of the films humor and situations are all just cliché and by-the-numbers.
I will say I was surprised by the cast in the film. Seeing so many faces from Reno 911! (Cedric Yarbrough), The Daily Show (Lewis Black, Rob Corddry, Rob Riggle), The Office (B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling) and Arrested Development (Tony Hale, Jessica Walter) made me smile as they all made their appearances on screen, but also realize this cluster of comedians came together in such a horrible film…well, quite frankly it makes me sad to think about. On top of that, apparently the security guards that watch the children’s cells later in the film are all from Kids in the Hall, a show I’ve unfortunately yet to see, and their dialogue is humorous to watch and I don’t even know what’s referencing the show and what is just written (or improved) for the movie.
If you’re a fan of the above comedians and have children, then you might find some enjoyment in the film. However fun the film may have been for the cast and crew to make, however, does not translate to any amount of fun for me. This film is an easy one to Skip.
As if the film wasn’t bad enough, there were actually DVD extras to watch! While the disc arrives in a plain amaray single disc housing (and is a flipper disc at that—fullscreen and widescreen transfers) and the menus are easy to navigate, the special features are actually more worthwhile to watch than the film itself.
Video quality is questionable at times, especially early on in the film where I saw a lot of compression. The 5.1 surround track is rarely utilized and kept mostly to the front channels. French and Spanish 5.1 tracks are given as well English, French and Spanish subtitles (most of which cover the special features as well).
The first extra up is the commentary by Lewis Black, Director Paul Feig and Writers Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark. Mya and Jacob don’t speak for a lot of the track and Feig and Black pick up the majority of the commentary. While there are dry spots, Black and Feig are quite entertaining to listen to and make the film almost bearable with the commentary on. Feig is quick to point out the films critics (even mentioning Rotten Tomatoes [though perhaps it’s spot at #64 in the Top 100 lowest films on IMDb would be more worthwhile to point out]) and while it’s clear that he, the writers and even Black hadfun doing the film, I still fail to see why the film had be so formulaic in its writing. Those who know Black’s comedy routine will no doubt be unimpressed by how calm he is on the track, but he mentions dealing with the kids on the set and going off on a cursing tirade during the sledding sequence, so it’s not a complete waste.
“Charlie’s Dance Reel” is a mix of extra footage of Tyler James Williams dancing and bloopers from the film. Aside from the music accompanying the clip show, the bloopers are fun to watch. Several deleted scenes are also on the set and none of which I recommend watching. They don’t come with any commentary either, so there’s no fun to be had from that one.
“Guards in the Hall” is perhaps the funniest extra and one that Paul Feig talked about on the commentary. Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch and Mark McKinney improvise their way through twenty minutes of footage, covering every topic they can and making jokes along the way. As I mentioned before, even though I only know of Kids in the Hall by name, this extra is still hilarious to watch. Running over twenty minutes, this extra, combined with the commentary, almost make the DVD worth a rental.
Overall, like the film, the disc can be skipped. If you’re absolutely curious about the commentary and “Guards in the Hall” extra, however, feel free to give it a quick rental. I doubt you’ll want to watch the film without the commentary, but young kids may enjoy it. Just hold off purchasing or renting it for awhile—the films premise circulates around Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so why it’s being released in August, I’ve not a single clue.
Unaccompanied Minors arrives on DVD on August 7th.