Shorts





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LondonNet Film Review
Shorts

Following a foray into sci-fi horror with Planet Terror, his contribution to the ill-fated Grindhouse double-bill, writer-director Robert Rodriguez returns to more family-friendly fare with a colour-saturated adventure reminiscent of his Spy Kids films...

REBEL RODRIGUEZ as Lug, TREVOR GAGNON as Loogie and LEO HOWARD as Laser in Warner Bros. Pictures action adventure comedy Shorts. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. PicturesShort and moderately sweet, this fast-moving romp understands that its target youth audience has a limited attention span - thus Rodriguez unleashes a blitzkrieg of digital effects, slapstick and explosions, bolted together as chronologically-fractured chapters. Leaping back and forth in time only accentuates the haphazard nature of the entire enterprise, while Rodriguez and co-editor Ethan Maniquis cut the film together at a furious pace that is likely to cause retina and brain-ache in older viewers. The visual and aural bombardment is relentless, culminating at one point in father and son battling against a giant bogey. "All those years you told me not to eat my boogers," rues the boy, finally acknowledging the wise words of his old man. "Yes, now your booger's trying to eat you!" replies his distressed dad. If Rodriguez's film discourages one tyke from picking their nose, perhaps the high-speed hijinks will serve a purpose.

The Texas-born writer-director opens with a short prologue entitled Episode Zero - The Blinkers, in which a brother (Cambell Westmoreland) and sister (Zoe Webb) attempt to outstare one another with comical repercussions. The siblings make fleeting appearances throughout the film proper, which begins with Episode 2 - Toe Thompson In Alien8ed. Toe (Jimmy Bennett) is a regular kid who lives in Black Falls with his family. He is bullied mercilessly at school by Helvetica Black (Jolie Vanier) and her older brother Cole (Devon Gearhart), whose father (James Spader) is the CEO of a company that makes the Black Box: "the all-in-one gadget that's sweeping the nation!" By chance, Toe discovers a rainbow-coloured rock and unleashes its hidden power: to grant the holder his or her every wish. However, the boy soon learns that you don't always get what you wish for. As the gem passes through the town, into the palms of Nose Noseworthy (Jake Short) and his germ-phobic father (William H Macy), and the terrible trio of Loogie (Trevor Gagnon), Lug (Rebel Rodriguez) and Laser (Leo Howard), the locals witness some bizarre sights: a gargantuan robot, an army of walking crocodiles and that marauding snot monster.

LESLIE MANN as Mom Thompson and JON CRYER as Dad Thompson in Warner Bros. Pictures action adventure comedy Shorts. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.Beneath all of the bells and whistles, Shorts is a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for. Most of the characters learn this valuable lesson the hard way, like Toe's feuding parents (Jon Cryer, Leslie Mann), who mutter, "I just wish we were closer", and end up fused together as a strange half-man, half-woman. Actors struggle to be seen and heard above the director's styling, eventually admitting defeat in the overblown finale. Shorts encourages its young audience to dream responsibly: "Be sure you're wishing for something worth wishing for." Rodriguez evidently hopes that wish will be to see his film with mum and dad in tow.

- Sam Cannon


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