The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM - Don­ald Clarke

GROUNDED ★ Di­rected by Paul Feig. Star­ring Lewis Black, Wilmer Valder­rama, Tyler James Wil­liams, Dyl­lan Christo­pher, Brett Kelly, Gina Man­tegna, Teri Garr PG cert, gen re­lease, 90 min

RE­BRAND this use­less fam­ily film as a piece of con­cep­tual art and it might be­gin to make a per­verse kind of sense. If the di­rec­tor’s in­ten­tion were to in­stil in the un­lucky viewer the emo­tions and sen­sa­tions he or she might feel if trapped in an air­port for days on end, then it would surely be ranked a roar­ing suc­cess. Af­ter just 89 busy min­utes I felt tired, de­hy­drated, phys­i­cally un­com­fort­ably and pro­foundly ir­ri­tated.

It helps that the food on sale in cine­mas is so sim­i­lar to that flogged in air­ports and that the same pri­mary coloured, in­sti­tu­tional drab­ness per­me­ates the com­mon spa­ces in both venues. Give this man the Turner Prize.

Grounded does, in­deed, fo­cus upon a group of un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors stranded in an air­port on the night be­fore Christ­mas. It be­ing the law that all come­dies set at this time of year be a ver­sion of A Christ­mas Carol, the air­port man­ager turns out to be a ter­ri­ble old meanie who has banned all dec­o­ra­tions from the build­ing and who seems in­tent on oth­er­wise foul­ing up the young­sters’ spe­cial evening. The dis­parate band of bud­dies – nerd, fatty, rich kid and so on – refuse to ac­cept de­feat and set about mak­ing the sea­son merry.

Is there any­thing worth cel­e­brat­ing about this badly acted, re­lent­lessly ugly, per­func­to­rily writ­ten piece of dross? Per­haps. It does show that, de­spite the ad­vance of video games and dig­i­tal an­i­ma­tion, there is still a place in cine­mas for those old-fash­ioned dra­mas in which groups of kids – fives who are fa­mous, sev­ens who are se­cret – re­veal them­selves to be smarter and more imag­i­na­tive than their el­ders. I hated those things 30 years ago, so it seems only fair that the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion suf­fer them too.

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