Release Date: August 21st, 2009
Rated PG for crude content, not recommended for young children.
Running time: 89 minutes
Robert Rodriguez (dir.)
Robert Rodriguez, and Elizaveth Avellán (prod.)
Robert Rodriguez (Screenwriter)
Robert Rodriguez, Carl Thiel, and George Oldziey (music)
Jimmy Bennett as Toe Thompson
Jake Short as Nose Noseworthy
Kat Dennings as Stacey Thompson
Trevor Gagnon as Loogie
Devon Gearlart as Cole Black
Jolie Vanier as Helvetica Black
Revle Rodriguez as Lug
Leo Howard as Laser
Leslie Mann as Mom
Jon Cryer as Dad Thompson
William H. Macy as Dr. Noseworthy
James Spader as Mr. Black
Angela Lanza as Teacher
Alejandro Rose-Garcia as John/Boyfriend
Cambell Westmoreland as Blinker #1
Zoe Webb as Blinker #2
Chris Orf as Goofy Host
Tina Rodriguez as Female Employee
Jack Hurst as Male Employee
Jonathan Breck as Security Guard
Racer Rodriguez as Bully #1
Rocket Rodriguez as Bully #2
Elizaveth Avellán as Voice of the Baby
and Bianca Rodriguez as the Baby
(L-r) JOLIE VANIER as Helvetica Black, DEVON GEARHART as Cole Black, JIMMY
BENNETT as Toe Thompson, RACER RODRIGUEZ as Bully #1 and ROCKET
RODRIGUEZ as Bully #2 in Warner Bros. Pictures’ magical fantasy adventure
“Shorts.” Photo by Van Redin
Our reviews below:
Shorts Review By John C.
***1/2 (out of 4)
After the excellent first two Spy Kids films and the alright, but not as good, third Spy Kids and Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Robert Rodriguez blasts back into action with Shorts. Like his other films for all audiences, this one is also imaginative, inventive and totally original. I thought it was about as good as the first two parts of the Spy Kids trilogy, and that’s really saying something. Especially considering that I didn’t walk in expecting all that much.
Shorts takes place in the made-up town of Black Falls Community, where everyone works for the Black Box company, which manufactures black cubes that can transform into pretty much any gadget you need. Three brothers (Laser, Lug and Loogie) find a mysterious rock at the end of a rainbow that can grant any wish they want. The wishing rock subsequently ends up in the hands of Tobey Thompson (Jimmy Bennet), who is always being picked on by the school bullies, Cole and Helvetica Black (Devon Gearhart and Jolie Vanier), who are the kids of Carbon Black (James Spader) who heads the Black Box Corporation. The many different story lines are all connected in some way or another by the mysterious rock.
The story is told in 6 out of order parts. The fractured narrative is done very well, and will only be confusing to younger kids and those not paying attention. The way each segment connects with the previous one is very clever and inventive. The movie plays as part kids fantasy-adventure and part technological satire. It’s smart entertainment for both kids and adults. The scenes at The Black Box Corporation are especially great.
There have been some really good live-action films this summer that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, this is definitely one of them, along with G-Force. Robert Rodriguez has once again created a fun, fantasy world where literally anything can happen. Take the whole family to see Shorts in theatres. It’s a great way to end the summer.
Shorts Review By Erin V.
***1/2 (out of 4)
Shorts: The Adventures of the Wishing Rock - called Shorts for short - this is a fun family film told out of sequence in a series of shorts, hence the title.
Narrated by lead character, Toby (Toe) Thompson, this method is not at all confusing if you watch along carefully. It follows the adventures of the residents of Black Falls community. In Black Falls, everyone works for Mr. Carbon Black, the maker of the Black Box - which is a small electronic device that is everything from a calculator to a toaster... The scene in the office of Mr. Black, featuring the rival purple triangle and silver cylinder, (see picture below), is one of my favorites.
When three brothers in the community find a wishing rock at the beginning of a rainbow, they inadvertently misuse it’s powers before their baby sister informs them that they should throw it away. Unfortunately, it keeps on turning up again, in the hands of various members of the community. When Toby finds it, he uses it to try to make his life better, as he is bullied at school a lot, by the daughter and son of Mr. Black himself. The problem is, a wishing rock like this can easily end up in the wrong hands... But who’s hands are the right ones anyway?
Shorts is a great family adventure. It is loads of fun, and despite how silly it gets at times, in the community of Black Falls and all of it’s eccentric people, we can actually believe that it makes sense. This is the kind of movie that is a fun treat to end the Summer with. The acting is good from the whole cast, the music is a lot of fun, and the special effects are quite cool, considering the production size. Robert Rodriguez once again displays his master at storytelling by leading us to not only believe, (in a sense), but follow along with this partially ‘out of sequence’, yet quite clever story. Gather up the whole family and go see this one in theatres.
Shorts Review By Nicole
***1/2 (out of 4)
Once again, Robert Rodriguez has created a fun, quirky little gem that is great for the entire family. This film takes place in an imaginary suburb named Black Falls, so named because everyone works for the company Black Box Unlimited Worldwide Industries Incorporated. This company creates an electronic device that that can turn into whatever electronic thing you need.
Things start to get interesting when a rainbow coloured rock falls from the sky. One of the residents, 11 year old Toby (Toe) Thompson finds the rock. The rock is actually a wishing rock, found at the beginning of the rainbow. Toby wishes for friends, to defend him from the bullies at school. He ends up with tiny aliens, who know martial arts. Through a series of short flashback segments, narrated by Toby, we see all the quirky things that happen when each of the Black Falls residents get hold of the rock. There are crocodiles that can walk like people, a giant booger monster, a wise baby, as well as Toby;s parents getting stuck together. But disaster strikes when the bullies, son and daughter of Black Box Inc.’s president Carbon Black, get hold of the rock. Once the rock gets in the hands of their father, watch out! Can the kids restore things before the adults ruin everything?
I really enjoyed Shorts. The acting is good, and the characters are all really funny. The storyline, while totally off the wall, is well written, fun, and very original. The way that all the little details come together is just brilliant. Everything about this film worked for me. I liked the underlying messages too, about overuse of technology, increasing self centredness, and the importance of family and community. With no objectionable content, and no frightening scenes, this movie is nothing but pure, manic fun for the whole family.
Shorts Review By Maureen
***1/2 (out of 4)
What happens when Robert Rodriguez gets hold of a magical wishing rock? He gets the kind of movie any filmmaker would wish for. “Shorts - Adventures of the Wishing Rock” is an energetic, full of fun, family fantasy adventure movie. In short, it’s really good.
The story is told in a series of out of sequence shorts narrated by the lead character, 11 year old Toby (Toe) Thompson (Jimmy Bennett). Toby lives in Black Falls with his older sister and his parents who are employed at Black Box Industries. Toby is the constant target of bullies and his life starts to get really interesting once he finds a rainbow coloured wishing rock. The rock ends up changing hands throughout the movie with one wish leading to another and all kinds of crazy things happening including mini-aliens, flying crocodiles and a booger monster.
The nice thing about Shorts is that the fast -pace and far, out adventures all connect well and keep the story making sense. The ending message about working together being more powerful than wishing alone makes this a good family choice.
Both kids and adults will enjoy all the special effects. The acting is good all around and the score that Robert Rodriguez composed worked really well to keep the sense of fun and adventure going.
If you like high energy, fun movies, go see ‘Shorts”
This one’s a winner for the whole family.
Shorts Review By Tony
***1/2 (out of 4)
Based in Austin TX, over the past two decades Robert Rodriguez and Elizabeth Avellán have produced a number of successful films, and six kids. Along with violent cult films such as the El Mariachi trilogy, Sin City and Grindhouse, the last with his friend Quentin Tarentino, Robert Rodriguez has directed several family features to amuse and involve his own growing family–the Spy Kids trilogy and The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lavagirl in 3-D, the latter based on ideas from his son Racer. He has also written many of his films and served as chief cameraman and composer. With extensive use of digital technology and CGI, he has a good track record for efficiency and thrift which attracts talent that will work for less than usual, knowing that for a modest time commitment including perhaps some babysitting they will have fun and come out with something good. Shorts departs from the Latino character of previous films without Rodriguez regulars like Cheech Marin and Danny Trejo.
The first two Spy Kids films were brilliant, rich with images that were at once sophisticated and childlike, that delighted kids and their parents alike. As an adult I didn’t care as much for the two 3-D kids films that followed, and based on the three trailers available on Apple.com I thought that Shorts might also have an appeal limited to pre-teens. We were pleasantly surprised. In some ways Shorts may be the best of the lot. The title refers to the way the film is divided into episodes that are shown out of sequence–0,2,1,4,3,5–that some may find confusing but make sense when you see it.
The discovery of a rainbow-covered rock that grants wishes to anyone holding it changes the lives of a company town where the ruthless Mr. Black (James Spader) produces handheld black devices that can transform into everything useful. Main character and narrator Toe Thompson (Jimmy Bennett) is being bullied by Cole Black (Devon Gearhart) and his sister Helvetica (Hel for short, played by Jolie Vanier). Toe has a teenage sister (Kat Dennings) and parents (Jon Cryer & Leslie Mann) who find themselves on rival development teams for the new Black do-all device–the loser facing immediate dismissal and banishment. Others who come into brief possession of the wishing rock include three brothers (with an all-wise telepathic baby sister played by the youngest Rodriguez) and the top Black researcher (William H. Macy), a germophobe who lives with his son in a house sealed up in plastic.
It may all sound silly but is dazzling in its imagination and effects. Adults will be delighted by the satirical undertone. For example, the large X promoting the new black box reminded me of both a gaming device and a rival’s operating system and countless handheld apps. Even at home Toe’s parents communicate by texting each other, until an inadvertent wish brings them together like Siamese twins.
JAMES SPADER as Mr. Black in Warner Bros. Pictures’ magical fantasy adventure “Shorts.” Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Consensus: Another great family movie from the director of Spy Kids, Robert Rodriguez. Shorts is a lot of fun, and would make for a great end of Summer movie to see with the family in theatres. ***1/2 (Out of 4)
Lug (REBEL RODRIGUEZ, left) and Laser (LEO HOWARD, right) watch as Loogie
(TREVOR GAGNON) closes his eyes to make a wish on the Rainbow Rock in Warner Bros. Pictures’ magical fantasy adventure “Shorts.” Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures