Robert Rodriguez is partially known for his family oriented adventure movies such as The Spy Kids Trilogy and The Adventures of Sharkboy & Lavagirl. His new film Shorts falls in line with his previous features and is filled with kid friendly action. As a father of five children, the director was inspired by his own kids to tell this latest story.
His son Rebel, who stars in his newest adventure helped dream up Shorts. He even came up with the title. “Rebel said, ‘It’s called Shorts because the stories are short, the kids are short and they wear shorts.” The film stars Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, Leslie Mann, James Spader, Jimmy Bennett and Kat Dennings.
The story is told through the memory of an 11 year old named Toe Thompson. He’s the designated punching bag for bullies in the suburban community of Black Falls. His parents as well as everyone else’s work for Black Box Industries, the makers of a popular do-it-all gadget that’s sweeping the nation. During a freak storm, a mysterious Rainbow Rock is discovered by brothers, Loogie, Lug and Laser. This colorful rock grants wishes to anyone who finds it. With great power comes great responsibility, and this only leads to mayhem and chaos as the rock ricochets across the town from kid to kid and parent to parent. Black Falls is quickly turned upside down in a wild but entertaining rampage.
Robert Rodriguez: The man does it all for this movie. He writes, directs, produces, composes music, co-edits and works as the cinematographer. He is a talented filmmaker who puts together a product that stems straight from his crazy imagination. Although, some of the credit must go to Rebel who helped come up with the idea, Rodriguez astonishes as the head honcho of this movie.
Jimmy Bennett: The talented actor who was last seen playing a boy tormented by his adopted sister in Jaume Collet-Serra’s horror film Orphan, carries this movie (behind Rodriguez of course). Not only because he’s the narrator, but the way he plays his nerdy-yet-lovable character makes you want to be his friend, especially since he doesn’t have any. From the way he prides himself on his spotless braces to his determination to fix the wrongs created by the rock, Bennett is the perfect Toe.
Visual Effects: Rodriguez really lets his imagination run wild, especially after the rock comes into the picture and people start making their weird wishes (for crocodiles, for friends as interesting and unique as themselves). Rodriguez accomplished the considerable visual effects load by having the film mapped out in his head long before production began. Shorts was filmed using a lot of mechanical devices. One example is the “Decontaminator Booth,” which germ-obsessed scientist Dr. Noseworthy has in his house for when outsiders enter from the germ infested world.
The Sequence of Events: One of the main themes of the film is that it’s told out of order at the whim of Toe’s memory. Rodriguez takes pride in telling the story by rewinding, fast forwarding and juxtaposing scenes, but it might have been better if it had a linear time line instead. It added to the fact that it was told through a child’s scatter brained memory but it leaves the audience (at least the adults in the theater) a little confused at times.
Unnecessary Concepts: There were two different concepts in the film that did absolutely nothing to help the overall story. The first being the story about “The Blinkers.” This is about two siblings who have a constant game of, who can last the longest without blinking, and they go at it FOREVER. Although, it was funny in the first scene of the movie when we are introduced to them, they never really fit into the main storyline. They are just there and pop in throughout the movie from time to time. The other concept is the big Booger monster created by Dr. Noseworthy’s son. I know it was there as another obstacle in the journey, but the film would have been fine without its slimy green presence.
The Story: Unfortunately, if you are over the age of 10, more than likely you won’t find this movie very interesting. One of the biggest problems I had with it was the ending. We already know, being a family film, that it will be happy and give a moral to the story. Unfortunately, chaos ensues instead and it seems overdone, and just unnecessary.
Though an enjoyable movie to see ONCE, all the fast forwarding, rewinding, pausing and following of the various story lines take its toll on the audience. At times the film leaves you too scattered to register what exactly is going on. On the other hand, Rodriguez does a great job of presenting the world from a young person’s perspective and making a movie they will enjoy. Isn’t it all about the kids anyway?
In case you’ve never seen the trailer here you go:
Shorts opens in theaters Friday, August 21st. Go see it and take your little brother/sister with you.
What do you think of the film? Does Rodriguez deliver?