Shorts is another children’s movie by the versatile director who made such violent classics as Planet Terror, Dusk till Dawn, Desperado and Sin City and also the creator of well regarded children’s movies Spy Kids 1-3 and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.
I haven’t seen any of Rodriguez’s children films but I have always wanted to have an excuse to see one, and this was my chance to see what this brilliant director can do with this genre.
I didn’t know what to expect from Shorts, Desperado for kids? or a regular childish story with kiddie humour and lots of fart jokes? Obviously it was no Desperado but gladly it wasn’t entirely a regular kiddie film either.
The description for the film reads ” A young boy’s discovery of a colorful, wish-granting rock causes chaos in the suburban town of Black Falls when jealous kids and scheming adults alike set out to get their hands on it” Sounds pretty simple, but the film was a lot more.
The film sets off showing Part Zero, the first short story about two young kids, a brother and a sister, having a ‘no-blinking stare out’ competition which is really amusing as they carry out their daily lives not taking their eyes of each other no matter what, these two keep appearing throughout Shorts in background scenes and their expressions are hilarious.
The movie then goes to the main story set in a town called Black Falls where all the houses look the same and everyone works for Mr Black (James Spader) who owns Black Box Inc. that make the Black Box, a communication and do-it-all gadget that is sweeping the nation, everyone has one and everyone’s lives are ruled by it.
Our hero and narrator, a young boy called Toe Thompson who has no friends, played excellently by Jimmy Bennet (young Kirk in the New Star Trek), he wears braces and gets bullied at school until one day the bullies corner him and throw a magical rainbow coloured rock that hits him in the head, Toe is then encouraged by the rock to make a wish and he wishes for friends and is joined by little aliens who help him get revenge of the bullies.
The film suddenly fast-forwards quickly through rest of film showing glimpses of things to come then pauses on a baby surrounded by destroyed debris and a large alligator flying through the air about to eat her, our narrator explains the story needs to be explained from the start, and so in a form of ‘Shorts’ we are taken through short little stories out of sync about the adventure of the wishing rock passing from person to person in Black Falls and of the wishes they make.
Each little story is a fantastic chance for Robert Rodriguez to be able to let anything happen due to the wishing rock and it’s endless possibilities. One story is of three kids who want an adventure, and kids being kids dream of crazy things like pterodactyls endless supplies of chocolate bars and castles surrounded by snakes and alligators, but when one of the alligators eats the rock it makes a wish, naturally, and when the alligators start standing up on two legs and chase the kids, enough is enough and they get rid of the wishing rock where it finds it’s next owner.
Other stories are of paranoid germ hating scientist, played by the excellent William H Macy, and his son creating a big Bogey monster. Toe’s parents becoming joined together like conjoined twins at a fancy dress party, and Mr.Black getting hold of the one thing that can do more than his Black Box and using the wishing stone for evil.
Each little story is well told and quickly concluded, but all have a nice little morale to them and the underlying tale of a boy who wants friends is endearing when in the end he makes the best friends he could possibly want through the adventures of the wishing stone.
I did enjoy the film and could see why kids will be excited when they watch it. It was exciting, funny, imaginative and like a Pixar film un-patronising which made it a more adult friendly movie than i thought it would have been but there were a few fart jokes, but it wouldn’t be a kids film without a few would it?!
Robert Rodriguez is a truly wonderful director, he knows what he want to show on screen and knows his audience. He makes the sort of film he wants to watch with his kids and has an imagination that probably comes from his kids minds as well as his own which is why this works so well, the story is great and doesn’t slow down to bore even the shortest of attention spans.
Buy this DVD for your kids or watch it as an adult by yourselves if you fancy 86 minutes to fly by during a highly entertaining family friendly movie.
Shorts is available on both DVD December 7th. You can pre-order it now. Check out the trailer here.