Shorts

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Noisy; Unworthy of Viewing

Shorts

Starring: James Spader, Jimmy Bennett

By Josephine Zomayah

Sitting in a movie theatre while waiting for a movie to start that is occupied to capacity isn’t always the quietest of moments. Being in a movie theatre filled with impatient and whining children fueled by their sugar high is a whole different experience.. A cacophony is best fit for the description to say the least. The unpleasant shrieking of this gluttonous brat who didn’t get both the red AND green Sour Punch Straws nearby was depressing me. Once the lights dimmed and the movie began, I was probably more ecstatic than the children themselves who made my pre-movie experience anything but short.

The story takes place in Black Falls, a suburban town owned and built by Black Box Industries that is run by Mr. Black. (James Spader). The Black Box is not only an mp3-capable smartphone but it can morph as a baby monitor, a mouth clamp, and several other tasks. Since it comes in three sizes (adult to child), everyone can own a Black Box.  The parents of Toby “Toe” Thompson (Jimmy Bennett) are employees of Black, Inc. who are held under Mr. Black’s thumb.  The relationship of Mom and Dad Thompson (Leslie Mann and Jon Cryer) is almost nonexistent. If it wasn’t for the text feature on the Black Box, they wouldn’t exchange a fair share of hugs and kisses. The parent’s lives consist of either using the Black Box or thinking of competitive ways to improve it.  Due to their addition of staying connected, the personal relationship with each other and their children is disconnected.. They are far too busy to see that their son lacks any real friends and gets dumped into trashcans on a daily basis while their daughter (Kat Dennings) is swooning over an unemployed twenty-something guy who still lives with his parents.

Due to his braces and awkward presence, Toby Thompson is an outcast at school. The spawns from Mr. Black bully Toe.  Cole and Helvetica Black (Devon Gearheart and Jolie Vanier) terrorize Toby during the day while their father, Mr. Black bullies his parents. One day, while Toby is getting his routine dose of torture, Toby happens to have stones thrown at him. Then, he gets hit with the best thing that could ever happen to him – a rainbow-colored rock that can fulfill every wish.

From the moment little Toe picks up the rock and starts using it, his whole world gets effected by whatever wish he conjures. Whoever else picked up the rock fared the same fortune. Here’s when the movie gets broken up into episodes following whoever had the rock and how their selfish wishes changed everything. The rock touches Toby’s parents’ lives, his hypochondriac germaphobe neighbor, Mr. Noseworthy (William H. Macy), along with his son Nose and a goofy classmate named Loogie. Among all the people who come into contact with the rock, the wisest is a baby.

Last time I remember a movie that revolved around granting someone’s every wish was Aladdin. So, I guess this is the new look at what happens when people get what they want. The end result is boogers coming to life in the size of grizzly bears, fortresses built among a creepy canyon, little aliens that reek havoc, and omnipotent baby that can read minds. Inevitably, the whole quiet town of Black Falls gets disrupted due to the wishing rock’s powers.

The quality of the special effects was seriously lacking. The acting was mediocre to say the least. Watching a few amateur child actors pretending to run away from a stomping booger was exhausting. In fact, the booger monster made me sick to my stomach.  The characters that the children acted out were beyond a level of maturity expected. Then again, that’s how kids in this generation are perceived because they can figure out how to use a computer better than most adults. The adult actors barely created a ripple in the flow of this movie. My favorite character was the baby.

“Shorts” was written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. He already has the “Spy Kids” trilogy and “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl” under his belt. This same guy directed and/or produced “Grindhouse”, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”, and “Sin City”. How can one guy concoct such creative worlds for separate viewers? Robert Rodriguez’s imagination is incredible. I wish I could say the same about his writing.

“Shorts” is an entertaining family movie that will keep the kids occupied– as long as they’re under 12. With the overall quality of “Shorts”, it could have gone straight to DVD. I’ve seen better special effects on a few Disney Channel Original Movies than found in Shorts. I guess it’s fitting to have Shorts released the same day as Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”.

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