Unaccompanied Minors

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Unaccompanied Minors
Unaccompanied minors poster.jpg
Promotional poster
Directed by Paul Feig
Produced by Lauren Shuler Donner
Michael Aguilar
Written by Jacob Meszaros
Mya Stark
Starring Lewis Black
Wilmer Valderrama
Tyler James Williams
Dyllan Christopher
Brett Kelly
Gia Mantegna
Quinn Shephard
Music by Michael Andrews
Cinematography Christopher Baffa
Edited by George Folsey, Jr.
Brad E. Wilhite
Village Roadshow Pictures
Donners' Company
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
December 8, 2006
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million
Box office $21,994,214

Unaccompanied Minors (called Grounded in the UK) is a 2006 Christmas comedy film directed by Paul Feig, starring Lewis Black and Wilmer Valderrama, and co-starring Tyler James Williams, Dyllan Christopher, Brett Kelly, Gia Mantegna, and Quinn Shephard. It is based on a true story by Susan Burton first told on the public radio show This American Life under the title "In the Event of an Emergency, Put Your Sister in an Upright Position".[1]


Spencer Davenport (Dyllan Christopher) and his sister Katherine must fly from California to Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve to spend the holidays with their dad, an environmentalist. Unfortunately, during their layover at the Hoover Airport in Kansas, a massive blizzard grounds all planes and cancels all flights, and the siblings are sent to the anarchic UM (unaccompanied minors') room, where they meet Christmas-spirited smarty-pants Charlie Goldfinch (Tyler James Williams), surly tomboy Donna Malone (Quinn Shephard), arrogant rich girl Grace Conrad (Gia Mantegna), and mysterious Beef Wellington (Brett Kelly).

Charlie, Spencer, Beef, Grace and Donna sneak out, and proceed to enjoy themselves around the airport. When they are caught by the airport security guards and returned to the UM room, they find that the other minors, Katherine included, have been sent to a lodge down the road, and that the grouchy head of passenger relations, Oliver Porter (Lewis Black) — whose trip to Hawaii is among the canceled flights — intends for the kids to spend Christmas Eve in the UM room. Knowing that it will break Katherine's faith in Santa Claus if she does not receive a present by the next morning, Spencer asks the others to help him get a present for his sister in return for a plan to escape.

With Spencer's plan, the minors give Zach Van Bourke (Wilmer Valderrama), the friendly clerk watching them, the slip, but Mr. Porter grows desperate to get the kids back, and sends all the airport guards to find them. After Donna and Grace get into a fight, Spencer decides that they're going to have to put their differences aside and work together as a team, and Beef leaves to go and get a Christmas tree. Along the way, he reflects on how his step-father, Ernie, hoped to make him stronger by saying men are made, not born. Meanwhile, Spencer and Katherine's father tries to drive to the airport in his biodiesel fueled car, but it eventually breaks down at a gas station. Fortunately, the owner lets him borrow a Hummer.

The minors head to a thinly secured exit in the back of the airport, letting a dog loose to distract the guards. While they hide from Mr. Porter in the baggage claim, Charlie, who is hiding in a suitcase, gets placed on a conveyor transport. Donna goes to save him, putting herself on a wild ride. Spencer and Grace follow them to the unclaimed baggage warehouse, where they find many wonderful presents, including a set of walkie-talkies, and a doll for Katherine.

However, they are seen dancing to Lee Morgan's performance of The Sidewinder on security cameras, and Mr. Porter and the guards chase the minors through the warehouse. Using a canoe, the minors take Zach captive and sled to the lodge while pursued by the guards, and manage to elude Mr. Porter long enough to find Katherine asleep in the lobby, and place the doll in her arms. While running around the lodge, Grace has to remove her contact lenses and switch to glasses, which made her look like a dork in the past (but not to Spencer). With their mission completed, the minors go back to the airport with Mr. Porter quietly. They are placed under surveillance in separate rooms.

Using the walkie-talkies, the minors tamper with the security cameras and escape through air ducts. They find the Christmas decorations Mr. Porter confiscated, and Beef returns with a huge Christmas tree that he traded his prized Aquaman action figure for. With Zach's help, the minors decorate the airport, and take items from the unclaimed baggage warehouse to use as presents for the rest of the stranded passengers. Mr. Porter finds Spencer to admit defeat and reveals that he's unhappy because he never really gets to spend time with his family during Christmas. Spencer inspires some holiday spirit in the man with some friendly words and the gift of a snow globe. On Christmas morning, Mr. Porter dresses up as Santa Claus to hand out presents to the passengers, Spencer and Katherine's father arrives to pick up his children, Beef tells a girl about his trek to find a Christmas tree, Charlie and Donna exchange phone numbers and share a kiss, and Grace accepts Spencer's invitation to spend Christmas with him and his family.


with a cameo by The Kids in the Hall's Kevin McDonald, Bruce McCulloch, and Mark McKinney as Mr. Porter's men

Deleted scenes[edit]

Original opening: At a mall, Spencer meets a girl from his school named Ashley. They talk and are about to kiss, but this is revealed to be a daydream. His mom interrupts him, and tells him to take his sister to see Santa. The daydream sequence was commonly seen in TV promotions for the film, despite not making the final cut.

Snotty Beef: During the sledding sequence, there is a shot of Beef wiping his nose on his coat.

Extended dance sequence: Alternate takes of Charlie dancing.

Peach Puma: Upon arriving at the Peach Festival, Beef enters a jar of preserves in the canning competition, but is bitten by a puma when he tries to ride the teacups. This scene is often included in the television cut to round out a full two-hour time block.

Dr. Charlie and Donna Dance: While Donna and Charlie are dancing, Charlie asks Donna if she can teach him to be tough like her. Donna explains that, in truth, she's angry about her life and about her parents. Charlie encourages Donna to try to be happy more often. Donna snorts and tells to Charlie to shut up and dance.

Mistletoe: When Grace sees that Spencer looks nervous about something, he tells her that he's just going to go check on the others. Grace looks up and sees a mistletoe. Realizing that Spencer was a little nervous about kissing her, Grace snorts and calls him a dork.


Tyler James Williams performed a song for the film with the same name as the film, but was not used in the film, but in a television spot to promote the film.


Unaccompanied Minors was not an initial success at the box office, having earned only $16,655,224 domestically against its $26 million budget, not counting DVD sales. Its worldwide box office gross was $21,994,214. The film received generally negative to mixed reviews from critics, It has a "Rotten" rating of 30% on Rotten Tomatoes, with the general consensus being: "Unaccompanied Minors, while featuring credible performances by its mostly young cast, is simply a rehash of other, funnier movies" This has a 43 out of 100 on Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[2]


External links[edit]