Plot-wise, it's "Home Alone" meets "Airport" by way of "The Breakfast Club," but without the ponderous excesses that marred all three films. It's Christmas Eve at an airport in the Midwest, and the weather has grounded all flights. Among the stranded passengers is a group of unaccompanied minors, kids flying alone, being jetted from one divorced parent to another for the holidays.
Included in the group are Spencer (Dyllan Christopher), who only wants to make sure his kid sister gets a visit from Santa; pampered rich girl Grace (Gina Mantegna); brainy Charlie (Tyler James Williams, of TV's Everybody Hates Chris); rebellious tomboy Donna (Quinn Shephard) and chubby, introspective Tim (Bad Santa's Brett Kelly). Unwilling to stay put inside the storeroom where all the other kids have been stashed, the six escape into the airport and wreak a lot of low-grade havoc, all in the name of helping Spencer reunite with his sister.
The role of the kids' tormentor is filled by Lewis Black as the curmudgeonly head of airport services; it's his job to see that all the unaccompanied minors remain safe and accounted for. But as the snow already has canceled his Hawaiian vacation, he's hardly in the mood to coddle a bunch of kids. He only wants them to stay still and quiet -- a fool's errand if ever there was one.
Other grown-up actors around for the kids to bounce off of include an affable Wilmer Valderrama as the employee initially put in charge of them; Rob Corddry as Spencer's dad, a greenie horrified to discover that the only way to get to the airport is in a gas-guzzling Hummer; and even an uncredited Terri Garr as the wacky aunt who goes way overboard with the Christmas decorations.
Thankfully, the movie does not go for the easy guffaw, or even the boffo chuckle. Instead, the humor, as the kids begin enjoying their makeshift family bonds, is gentle and absent malice. Williams steals every scene he's in, while Christopher and Mantegna have a good time making eyes at each other, in that typical way that kids always do in the movies, especially when they come from opposite sides of the social tracks.
Unaccompanied Minors glides along easily enough, offering few unexpected turns and little we haven't seen before. But a little comfort food like this makes for some welcome holiday fare.