Follow TV Tropes


Film / Unaccompanied Minors

Go To
Unaccompanied Minors is a 2006 American Christmas comedy film, directed by Paul Feig. It is about a group of teenagers who are stranded at a fictional Midwestern airport by a blizzard during Christmas Eve. Spencer wants to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in his younger sister, Katherine, and enlists the help of fellow unaccompanied minors Grace (Gia Mantegna), Charlie (Tyler James Williams), Donna (Quinn Shephard), and Beef to arrange an impromptu Christmas party and search a gift for Katherine. Along the way, they have to evade Mr. Porter (Lewis Black), the grumpy head of passenger relations whose own flight to Hawaii is canceled.


  • Adults Are Useless: The adults in general are incompetent or too self-righteous to think of the children, let alone during the middle of a blizzard. One possible exception is probably the maid at the hotel who watched over Katherine when she sleeping by the fireplace waiting for Santa Claus.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: The kids escape from the individual rooms Mr. Porter locked them in this way. When the air vent collapses under their weight, they find a room of confiscated decorations and decide to festify the airport.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    • When Charlie asks if the Minors are going to the lodge with the other kids, Mr. Porter answers, "Are you out of your juice-drinking little minds?!"
    • After the teenagers manage to escape the rooms they are locked in without being caught on the security cameras, one security guard asks Mr. Porter if they can go on coffee break. This time, Mr. Porter dosen't even answer the question.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The film's protagonist Spencer Davenport left his little sister Katherine all by herself at the minors room while he went to go grab lunch. When the airport security bring him back to the same room she was last seen, Spencer's Big Brother Instinct kicks in and he works to find her.
  • Babysitter from Hell: Katherine is put in the hands of a psychotic girl who treats her like a Barbie doll as the women in charge of looking after the juvenile girls care mostly about getting their free Christmas Eve dinner.
  • Berserk Button: Donna gets physically violent if you touch her.
  • Big Bad: Oliver Porter, the head of passenger relations, who vows to prevent the teenagers from reaching Katherine because the teenagers are his responsibility. He does however reform at the end.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Mr. Porter's reaction upon seeing that the security cameras of the minors's rooms have been tampered with.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Katherine acts like this to Spencer most of the time; she's introduced alongside Spencer throwing a tantrum because she doesn't want to sit in Santa's lap, but also doesn't want to leave. She then gets upset again when they have to switch planes on the way to their dad's, though not to the same extent. Spencer does care about her, however, as he takes a doll out of an unclaimed suitcase in a warehouse as a gift for her.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Charlie gets humiliated and suffers from Amusing Injuries the most throughout the film.
    • Zach Van Bourke is disrespected by everyone in the movie, even the children he is taking care of, Mr. Porter treats like trash when offers good advice, and the kids force him to go with them on the downhill sled chase.
    • Katherine, who winds up in the hands of a hellish fashionista who only sees her as entertainment value like a Barbie doll.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Valerie warns Sam about how dangerous it is talking on highway payphones in the middle of nowhere, as she had read in tabloids that some freak accidents tend to happen there. Sam doesn't believe her, dismissing her claims as "made up stories". However, and speak of the devil, another driver at a fast speed fails to notice Sam, causing him to abruptly brake his car with a Christmas tree deattaching itself and crashing face-first into Sam's ecological car. As a result, almost all of his Biodiesel fuel starts leaking rapidly, thus proving that Valerie was right.
      Valerie: Well, I hope you're not talking on one of those roadside pay phones. I read that all kinds of freak accidents happen there by the shoulder.
      Sam: You have to stop reading those dumb tabloids, okay? You know they make those stories up. [a car suddenly shows up and unintentionally ruins Sam's car as both of them scream in terror. Sam's biodiesel fuel starts leaking rapidly] Oh, boy.
    • Mr. Porter tries to grab Donna, but Charlie warns him against doing so as she doesn't like to be touched. He ignores him though and does grab Donna, only for her to hit him in the stomach. Lampshaded by Mr. Porter.
      Mr. Porter: Oh, well. Maybe next Christmas will be better than this one.
      Charlie: Sir, I advise you not to do that.
      Mr. Porter: Punk, watch this. [grabs Donna and she hits him] Thanks for the tip.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: While holding the minors in separate cells, Mr. Porter sarcastically promises that, if they can escape again, he will give up on trying to detain them. They do escape, of course, and leave the man a note reminding him of this promise. After a heart-to-heart with Spencer, Porter gets into the Christmas spirit and hands out toys as Santa the next morning.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Grace tells the other minors that if she is returned to the UM room that's on them, to which Donna provokes her by asking her if she's going to have her dad hire a hit man. Grace slyly replies "Maybe I'll just have him break your dad out of jail". This enrages Donna and starts a fight with Grace.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • Spencer's irritable attitude is merely a mask to hide the great burden of constantly taking care of his younger sister Katherine by himself following their parents Sam and Valerie's divorce, particularly resenting his father's workaholic absence and his mother's overprotectiveness.
    • Grace, on the other hand, acts as a conceited spoiled rich girl due to her own non-divorced parents who don't really enjoy her company, giving her excuses as to not be around her such as sending her to a boarding school. She chose to hang out at the airport rather than go to her house (which is a short drive away) and spend Christmas with a nanny, who wanted Christmas off anyway.
  • Granola Girl: Spencer and Katherine's father is a male version of this, having a car that runs on biodiesel and not letting Spencer get a phone because millions of them are filling up landfills everywhere.
  • The Grinch: Mr. Porter dislikes Christmas because it's such a busy, stressful time of year for him. He's in an especially bad mood this Christmas because the blizzard stalled his Hawaiian vacation.
  • Hates Being Touched: A mall santa, Charlie and Mr. Porter all touch Donna on her shoulder, and all get a punch to the gut for it.
  • He Knows Too Much: Lampshaded by Donna after Charlie tells Zach they're going to the lodge to find Spencer's sister, holding him captive in the canoe against his will, despite repeatedly pleading them to let him go and promising he won't rat them out to Mr. Porter.
  • I Have No Daughter!: Lampshaded by Grace about her parents constantly neglecting her.
  • Informed Judaism: Charlie makes a comment about being Jewish but loving Christmas.
  • I Will Show You X!: Invoked and subverted. Mr. Porter notices the minors trying to further reach the lodge and he speeds up his own canoe. Unfortunately for him, he fails to brake it, resulting in Mr. Porter flying across the parking lot and hitting the nearby parked cars.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Porter when he calls out Spencer for leaving his 8-year old sister all by herself and that Katherine had to be taken somewhere else because of his negligence.
  • Kick the Dog / The Dog Bites Back: Played straight. Spencer distracts a group of snobbish employees of the luggage transportation room, who are on a break having dinner, by releasing a barking dog he spots nearby. Just after he unlocks its cage, one of the employees offers their food, only for him to outright rub it in its face by eating the last piece himself. As a result, the angered dog bites two of them in retaliation.
  • Naked People Are Funny / Toplessness from the Back: Grace's bare back is briefly shown as she is getting herself a massage, right before she is caught by two security guards for escaping the UM room, to which she amusingly asks "Are you gonna let me get dressed, or should I just walk out of here naked?".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Zach catches the minors with a canoe outside of the airport's warehouse after evading Mr. Porter and the security guards, Charlie tells him they're going to the lodge to find Spencer's sister. This is lampshaded by Grace who sarcastically replies "Way to go, Charlie. Anything else you wanna tell him?".
  • Not What It Looks Like: When Spencer takes Katherine to see the mall Santa in the beginning of the movie, he tries get her to not be afraid by sitting on the Santa’s lap himself. Unfortunately, he is seen by a group of popular kids from his school, including a girl he likes, which leads to them believing he is getting his picture taken with Santa, embarrassing him.
  • Nutritional Nightmare: Porter calls what Spencer ordered at the airport's restaurant the heart attack special.
  • Opposites Attract:
    • Dorky middle class Spencer falls for snooty glamorous rich girl Grace, and she starts to return his feelings as joins him and the other kids to save Spencer's sister, Katherine’s Christmas from being ruined. It is somewhat subverted as Grace reveals she was once a dork herself, though Spencer disagrees with her.
    • Surly tomboyish Donna and cowardly smart kid Charlie develop feelings for each over the course of the adventure. Donna risked her life when Charlie was trapped in a suitcase that was being sent to the unclaimed baggage warehouse. In unclaimed baggage warehouse, Donna, who Hates Being Touched, dances with him. At end of the film, Donna gives Charlie her phone number so he can call her and kisses him when they have to say goodbye.
  • Over The Top Christmas Decorations: Aunt Judy's house is covered in decorations, inside and outside, and she implies that her decorating somehow goes beyond that. There is even an inflating Santa in a chimney with motion sensors on the lawn that scares the bejeezus out of anybody walking by.
  • Parental Neglect: Grace, the only kid whose parents aren't split up, eventually confesses that her parents take great measures to avoid her, including boarding school and leaving her to spend Christmas with a nanny while they are in Paris.
  • Potty Emergency: While the other minors escape the UM room to enjoy themselves, Charlie leaves with them because he needed a bathroom and the provided one was clogged by a flushed phone.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: Katherine gets screwed over twice because of this trope.
    • Her brother Spencer leaves her alone with the airport security since he wanted to grab a big meal at the airport's restaurant to catch up on all the foods his mother wouldn't let him eat in the house (cheeseburgers, popcorn shrimp, fries, mozzarella sticks and nachos).
    • Then Katherine gets relocated to a facility but the flight attendants there responsible for Katherine refuse to look after her because they want to go grab a free dinner provided by their bosses and allow a crazy girl look after her, who proceeds to give Katherine an unwanted extreme makeover.
  • Sound-to-Screen Adaptation: The film is based off a non-fiction story by writer Susan Burton, which she debuted on an episode of the public radio program This American Life in 2001.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: Averted. While Grace is getting herself a massage, she is caught by two security guards for escaping the UM room. Grace amusingly asked them if they were going to force her out in the nude, but they are grossed out by this response and walk out.
  • "Stuck at the Airport" Plot: The main premise of the film.
  • Subbing for Santa: A rare mundane example; Spencer knows Katherine will think Santa forgot her if she wakes up on Christmas morning and there's no present, so his condition for the plan to get to the lodge is that they will first find a present for his sister.
  • Token Good Teammate: Zach is only employee at the airport who thinks of the safety and well being of the kids is more important than Mr. Porter disciplining them.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Charlie is black and Jewish.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Lampshaded by Mr. Porter as he enters the lodge and surrenders the minors.
    Mr. Porter: Okay! Now, I'm mad!
  • You Need to Get Laid: By the end of the film, Judy, Valerie's sister, tells her to start dating more after her divorce with Sam, remarking how ridiculous she looks.