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Unaccompanied Minors

Unaccompanied Minors (2006) draws its title from something of a more recent phenomenon: With many parents getting divorced, the holiday schedule is often split between two homes, and thus forces numerous children to shuttle across the country sans supervision. Such is the case for the Davenport children Spencer (Dyllan Christopher) and Katie (Dominique Saldana), but during their layover in Denver, a snowstorm stalls them overnight on Christmas Eve. Katie's younger than Spencer and is worried that Santa won't be able to find them, while their situation puts them with a number of other adolescents also imprisoned by the airport. Stuck in a cement room that quickly turns into Lord of the Flies, Spencer escapes along with Charlie Goldfinch (Tyler James Williams), Timothy "Beef" Wellington (Bret Kelly), Grace Conrad (Gina Mantenga), and Donna Malone (Quinn Shephard). Charlie's a know-it-all readying himself for a prestigious future, "Beef" is the outsider weirdo (who talks mostly to his Aquaman doll), Grace is the rich girl, and Donna is the tomboy. The five run amuck and then get busted by the airport's Grinch-like supervisor, Oliver Porter (Lewis Black), who won't let them stay at the hotel and forces them to spend the night in the airport. But Spencer wants to make sure his sister gets a present from Santa, so the five band together to break out and make sure that she has a good Christmas.

Director Paul Feig is probably best known as the creator of "Freaks and Geeks," the much beloved (and rightly so) TV show that launched Seth Rogen and James Franco, among others. Having spent the intervening years working in television, Feig seemed primed (like fellow cohort Judd Apatow) to make the launch to the big screen. Alas, Unaccompanied Minors is a misfire that has truly unfortunate pacing problems due to the "mission" being resolved before the hour mark, which leads to a sweet but underwhelming conclusion. The children are charming, but film is curiously inert in its tweener Breakfast Club-meets-The Little Rascals story. Home video is a much better format for the movie, which benefits greatly from a cast that features many of the supporting players from the American version of "The Office," "Arrested Development," and three of "The Kids in the Hall," on top of Rob Corrdry, Paget Brewster, Teri Garr, Rob Riggle, Kristen Wiig, David "Gruber" Allen and David Koechner. With this wealth of comic talent, it's nigh impossible for something to be without merit, it's just too bad the plot is so misguided. Warner Home Video presents the film on a flipper disc with anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) on one side and pan-and-scan on the other, with both sides offering Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras (the same on both sides) include a commentary with Feig, Black, and screenwriters Jacob Meszaros and Mya Stark, "Charlie's Dance Scene" (3 min.), which also doubles as a gag reel, seven additional scenes (6 min.), and "Guards in the Hall" (21 min.) which features "Kids in the Hall" alums Bruce McCulloch, Mark McKinney, and Kevin McDonald riffing in two uninterrupted takes (of which about 20 seconds ends up in the finished film). It's amazing to see how the three work off each other, with McCulloch often pulling some very weird ideas out of the ether, and a game of musical chairs that McDonald continually cheats at to hilarious end. Fans of the three should check the disc out simply to watch them work. And there's at least one Easter egg. Keep-case.

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