Australian Council on Children and the Media

Unaccompanied Minors

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Short takes

Not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Viol. Scary scenes. Theme)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Unaccompanied Minors
  • a review of Unaccompanied Minors completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 30 November 2006.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance recommended
Children over the age of 13 Should be ok to see this movie with or without parental guidance.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Unaccompanied Minors
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Infrequent mild violence
Length 82 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Spencer (Dyllan Christopher) and his younger sister, Santa-phobic Charlie (Tyler James Williams), rich-girl Grace (Gina Mantegna), tomboy Donna (Quinn Shephard) and quiet and child-like Beef (Brett Kelly) find themselves snowed in at Hoover International airport while in transit to visit family at Christmas. The unexpected stopover and Christmas holiday travel reminds them all of their various family problems, including divorce, abandonment and family expectations.

As unaccompanied minors at the airport, the children are taken by Passenger Relations worker, Zach (Wilmer Valderrama) to the Unaccompanied Minors (UM) Lounge. The five older children decide that the chaos of the UM Lounge is not for them and make their escape. This action earns them the wrath of the surly Passenger Relations manager, Oliver (Lewis Black), who has also had his holiday to Hawaii ruined by the weather. The children are caught by security and thrown back into the UM Lounge.

Undaunted, they group together, realising that only as a team can they free themselves again. Spencer has added incentive to escape, as he has now become separated from his sister. With their combined abilities and the aid of a soft hearted Zach, they again attempt an escape, all the while facing the increasingly desperate efforts of Oliver and his security team to control them.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Separated families

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, mostly intended for comic effect, including:

  • Donna punches a number of people in the stomach and groin and they are shown to be in pain
  • Zach is jumped on and crushed by children in the UM Lounge. He is seen to be in distress but recovers quickly
  • a dog bites a baggage handler on the bottom and another in the groin. While the men yell in pain, the children are seen to escape.
  • in the unclaimed baggage area, Donna finds num-chucks and Charlie finds a cane. They hurt themselves while trying them out.
  • during a chase scene down a snowed covered hill, Oliver and his security guards give chase on various toboggan-like objects. They all lose control at different points and crash into trees, snow, car-parks. They are not shown to have any serious injuries from these accidents.
  • Oliver upsets a hotel guest, who is shown raising a fist to him. Oliver is heard to yell “ow!” and reappears with a bruised face, slightly bloodied nose and lip.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • all the children are separated from their parents in the airport, although none of them appear scared by the experience
  • the UM Lounge chaos includes yelling, fighting, folding back of eyelids, bullying, throwing objects
  • Beef puts on a life-jacket and inflates it, resulting in him almost strangling himself
  • the children are all chased through the airport with Donna driving a stolen passenger buggy and crashing into bookstalls
  • in several scenes Oliver yells, intimidates and threatens the children. They do not appear particularly worried by his threats.
  • Charlie (trapped in a suitcase) and Donna get tossed through a large baggage carousel. They appear worried and yell out as they fly about. They take a final big fall onto a pile of luggage but are unharmed
  • Spencer’s father tries to drive to the airport to meet his children. In the process he nearly gets hit by a car, has a Christmas tree go through his front windscreen and his car blows up.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Most children in this age group would be ok with the above-mentioned scenes, although some could be concerned by the mishaps Spencer’s father goes through on his way to the airport.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

It is unlikely that anything in this movie would scare or disturb children over the age of thirteen.

Product placement

None

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Charlie finds a bra in the suitcase he is trapped in and makes approving sounds and nods
  • Donna kisses Charlie, and he tells her she’s ‘hot’.

Nudity and sexual activity

None

Use of substances

There is one scene in which Spencer’s auntie wakes up on Christmas Day with a bottle of spirits in her hand and looking hung over.

Coarse language

There no coarse language in this movie, but a bit of name-calling including fat boy, idiot, moron, noodle-head, suckers, psycho, goofball.

In a nutshell

While many children will enjoy the slapstick and occasional toilet humour in Unaccompanied Minors, adolescents and adults may find the humour weak and plot improbable.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • the importance of family, whatever shape it may take
  • teamwork and friendship
  • forgiveness and generosity.

Parents could discuss with their children the real-life consequences of using violence to resolve issues, and the impact of divorce.

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