Not at Home, Not Alone but a lot of Airport Holiday Hijinks
I am not going to pretend for one moment that "Grounded" or "Unaccompanied Minors" as it is also known is a great Christmas movie, it most definitely isn't. And I am not going to say that it is clever or original because it is so obviously influenced by so many other movies that I lost track before I was even half way through. But "Grounded" being a Christmas movie featuring kids and made for a younger audience is a lot of good fun and whilst "Grounded" is by no means subtle in pulling your feel good emotional strings it will put you in a good mood if you allow it.
It's December 24th and Spencer (Dyllan Christopher - Seabiscuit) and his little sister are unaccompanied minors flying to spend Christmas with their father. But during a stop at Hoover airport to change planes they find themselves grounded along with all the passengers as a blizzard causes all the flights to be cancelled. Unhappy at being grounded and placed in a big room with all the other unaccompanied minors Spencer and some other children break free and start running amok in the airport much to the annoyance of airport customer relations manager Mr. Porter (Lewis Black - Man of the Year) who dislikes Christmas and makes it his job to make the troublesome children miserable as well.
Probably the best way to describe "Grounded" is to say take a bit of "The Breakfast Club" with some "Home Alone" and then situate it in an airport on Christmas Eve. Those are just two of the influences but they are the strongest as we get this small group of children who find themselves falling foul of the grumpy Airport's Customer Relations manager on Christmas Eve who decides to make their life a misery whilst all they want is some Christmas fun. There are subplots such as Spencer's endeavours to make sure his little sister gets a visit from Santa Claus but it is a movie built around children up to mischief.
As such there is plenty of fun going on in "Grounded" from the initial break out by the small band of children where they run amok through the airport lounges and then again later on in the left baggage warehouse all the time trying to escape the clutches of Mr. Porter the Customer Relations manager and his band of incompetent guards. It's not as clever as the fantasy escapism which you see in "Home Alone" but it is in the same style with the kids cleverly out smarting Mr. Porter, although to be frank it's not as clever as it thinks it is.
And in amidst of all this airport chaos is the almost sentimental side as these kids, initially strangers to each other bond and build friendships, learning something about each other which is different to their initial perceptions. It is very much in the same manner as "The Breakfast Club" but again is not as clever and certainly not as deep as we have young children instead of teenagers. In fact whilst this side of "Grounded", which combines with them trying to make Christmas special for all the stranded passengers, delivers a nice sentimental aspect it is also as subtle as a brick. Director Paul Feig capitalizes at every opportunity to manipulate your emotions with a feel good scene.
It has to be said that the casting, especially of the kids is pretty spot on to. They are all nice, all get their moment to be funny and the characters are a nice diverse bunch of stereotypes so you have the average one and his sister, the weird one, the posh one, the clever one and of course a chubby one. It's not by any means great acting from any of them or from the adults but the likes of Dyllan Christopher, Gia Mantegna, Tyler James Williams, Quinn Shephard and Brett Kelly all do well enough.
What this all boils down to is that "Grounded" isn't a great movie or a brilliant Christmas movie but it is fun. It obviously draws on so may other sources and as such for an adult who finds themselves watching may find it all a bit lame and weak in comparison but the fun of kids running amok in an airport, escaping a scrooge like character will make younger audiences laugh.
Tags: Christmas Movies