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Movie Review: Shorts

August 21, 2009

For  (young) kids only

By Shannon

shortsposter1A lot of critics believe that any movie made for children must be smart enough to entertain the parent as well.  That is a nice sentiment, but the fact is that every once in a while a film comes along that is obviously for kids and kids only, and that’s okay by me. This is one of those films that you go to because you love your kids.  There’s not much here to entertain an adult.

I took my kids to this screening ( ages 4 and 7) and they adored it.  They wanted to buy the DVD immediately upon its conclusion ( they still don’t understand that there is a waiting period).   The running time of 89 minutes still caused me to check my watch multiple times, because this is some pretty boring stuff for adults.

Genre jumping director Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Planet Terror, Sin City)  turns to family fare once again, and offers up this utterly forgettable tale of a strange suburb called Black Falls, and the adventures that ensue when a group of kids find a magical rock that makes wishes come true. The narrator jumps back and forth in the film from story to story, but my kids seemed to follow it fine.

According to production notes, Rodriguez says that one of his sons (he has five kids) came up with the idea for Shorts.  He wanted to tell a series of stories about kids in the same neighborhood, and the family loved watching The Little Rascals, which was a big influence on the movie.  Rodriguez also came up with the idea for the film’s rewinding, fast-forwarding and pausing to start stories because of how his kids use the DVR to show him their favorite scenes in something they have watched.

The cast includes Leslie Mann, William H. Macy, James Spader, Jon Cryer and Kat Dennings.  Newcomer Jolie Vanier will be one to watch. She’s fantastic as the kinda sorta girlfriend of the narrator.  She really steals every scene she’s in, and has an uncanny resemblance to a young Christina Ricci.  Can’t wait to see what she does next.

Mr. Black (James Spader) is trying to develop an upgrade for his BLACK BOX  device, which every adult seems to own (a sly nod to iPhone, I think).  His device can literally do almost anything.  He wants to make it even better, and sets his eyes on the magical rock to help him achieve world domination.  The kids try to keep it out of his greedy clutches.

There is lots of stuff to delight kids here.  CGI crocodiles, giant booger monsters (give me blood and guts over boogers any day, gross), robots, spaceships, and  dinosaurs to name a few.  The film holds its own visually, and the ending is a CGI feast.

This is silly stuff, but young children will love it.  It teaches some good lessons about greed and being careful what you ask for. I think kids above ten will find it boring.

Frothygirlz rating (for kids only) 7/10


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