Shorts (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner20/08/2009

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 86 mins

Patchy but likeable children's fantasy adventure, thanks to a solid cast, an imaginative script and some nice ideas, though it's not quite as funny as it should have been and wears out its welcome before the end.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez (with input of one sort or another from most of his family), Shorts is a children's fantasy adventure movie that's very much in the Spy Kids mould. Presented as a series of out of sequence chapters or shorts, the film stars Jimmy Bennett as the film's narrator, bullied school-kid Toby “Toe” Thompson, who finds a magic, wish-granting rock that allows him to take revenge on pint-sized school terror Helvetica Black (Jolie Vanier).

However, as the rock passes from one character to another (including William H. Macy as a germophobic scientist, Kat Dennings as Toe's older sister and Jon Cryer and Leslie Mann as Toe's parents), all manner of mayhem ensues and soon their small town is awash with giant Bogey Monsters, a super-intelligent baby, giant robots (is there any movie this summer without a giant robot in it?) and an upright-walking crocodile army. Meanwhile, sinister industrialist Mr Black (James Spader), has his own plans for world domination.

The Good
The performances are very good, particularly the increasingly ubiquitous Bennett and Vanier, who looks like Wednesday Addams and even gets her own theme song (her name is also the film's best joke). There's also strong support from the adults, whilst Bianca Rodriguez (Robert's niece) almost steals the show as the super-smart baby.

The film's main strength lies in its imaginative, fast-paced plot and the structure of the film gives it a suitably chaotic feel, whilst papering over some of the more obvious plot-holes. There are also several good sight gags, particularly the running gag about two siblings having a see-who-blinks-first competition.

The Bad
That said, the film is quite definitely aimed at hyperactive kids rather than adults and, as a result, the nonstop wish-granting gets a little tiresome around the halfway mark. Similarly, the script's ultimately not quite as clever as the first half of the film leads you to expect.

Worth seeing?
Shorts is an enjoyable, fast-paced children's fantasy adventure with some nice ideas, but adults may find themselves tuning out before the end.

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Content updated: 11/12/2017 21:05

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