Shorts (2009)
Shorts (2009)

Genre: Fairy Tale Running Time: 1 hr. 29 min.

Release Date: August 21st, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG

Director: Robert Rodriguez Actors: Jimmy Bennett, Kat Dennings, Devon Gearhart, Rebel Rodriguez, Jolie Vanier, Leo Howard, Leslie Mann, Jon Cryer, James Spader, William H. Macy




obert Rodriguez’ “Shorts” is childish, unrealistic, and immature – in a good way. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but once again, the director has proven he has a way with children’s films. The plot is jumbled up and out of order like a Tarantino movie, and doesn’t demonstrate a particularly unique idea. What it does masterfully accomplish, however, is creative entertainment. The look and feel of “Shorts” is wildly inventive, fantastical, definitely kid-worthy, and quite simply, a whole lot of fun.

To tell the tale of the crazily kooky adventure granted to the usually uneventful town of Black Falls, narrator and star Toby “Toe” Thompson (Jimmy Bennett) skips ahead, rewinds backwards onscreen, and dodges through the timeline of events. He decides to tell the story completely out of order in a series of shorts. While messing with chronology is typically a nuisance, it works well for director Rodriguez, keeping things continually interesting and building upon minor characters – while effectively holding the attention of kids.

Black Box Incorporated is the center of interest for the entire town. It’s run by the ruthless Mr. Black (James Spader), who is only concerned with upgrading his all-in-one black box multi-tool invention to outdo his many competitors. The box works like a Transformer, reconstructing itself automatically into a cell phone, vacuum, toaster, grenade, dog trimmer, baby monitor, and much, much more. His team leaders (Leslie Mann and Jon Cryer) are the parents of Toby, and his daughter Helvetica (Jolie Vanier) – or “Hel” for short – makes Toby’s life miserable, bullying him incessantly at school. When neighbor Loogie (Trevor Gagnon) discovers a magical rock that grants wishes, Toby’s real troubles are about to begin.

Although a movie about wishes run amok isn’t entirely new, the family-friendly, clean setting, and bright tone of the film contributes to solid entertainment. While it serves as a fantastical, quixotic tutoring on wishing for something worthwhile and being careful what you wish for, the execution and planning of the muddled events is truly worthwhile. Little green aliens can’t fix Toby’s “lack of friends” problem, prevent an army of crocodiles from eating Loogie’s homework, protect the Short brothers from pterodactyl abduction, or save Nose Noseworthy from the Big Bad Booger. Boiling down to the basic carefree fantasies of kids, the welcome notion of getting anything you can imagine, and the realization that understanding and friendship can resolve more than wishing yourself out of a predicament, “Shorts” playfully amuses with a vastly creative eye for merriment and nonsense. This is a film that proves pure fantasy can be pleasant and adults don’t have to be bored to death with the material their children drag them to.

– Mike Massie

  • 7/10