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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Shorts

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service


Rebel Rodriguez, Trevor Gagnon and Leo Howard star in a scene from the movie "Shorts."
The old admonition to be careful what you wish for provides the basic theme of the clever children's fantasy "Shorts" (Warner Bros.).
 
Writer-director Robert Rodriguez's lively yarn, which generally makes for appealing family entertainment, also carries messages about the dangers of power and the isolating effects of contemporary technology.
 
Told in a series of nonsequential episodes, this is primarily the story of "Toe" Thompson (Jimmy Bennett), a much-bullied 11-year-old in a suburban town dominated by Black Box Industries, manufacturers of a popular, cutting-edge gadget that does virtually everything imaginable.
 
Toe's main persecutor, schoolmate Helvetica (terrific newcomer Jolie Vanier), is the daughter of the company's driven CEO, Mr. Black (James Spader). Since, like almost everyone else in the area, Toe's unnamed parents (Jon Cryer and Leslie Mann) work for Black Box, there's little chance of curbing Helvetica's fondness for ordering her thuggish followers to stuff Toe headfirst into the nearest garbage can.
 
Toe's fortunes seem to be transformed when he comes into possession of a rainbow-colored rock that grants the wishes of anyone holding it. But his fantasy fulfillment soon goes awry, as does that of each subsequent character that gets hold of the stone as—by a series of accidents—it passes through the community, wreaking chaos on young and old alike.
 
Mom and Dad Thompson, for instance—who text each other rather than having a face-to-face conversation, even when they're in the same room together—request a closer relationship, and end up as Siamese twins. And Toe's older sister, Stacey (Kat Dennings), idly wishes that her boyfriend would grow up, with unfortunately literal results.
 
In a plot point that some parents may find unpleasant, germ-fearing Black Box research scientist Dr. Noseworthy (William H. Macy) inadvertently creates a giant mucus monster as the result of the unhygienic habits of his aptly nicknamed son Nose (Jake Short).
 
Some of the perilous special effects, such as a swarm of predatory crocodiles, may overwhelm the most sensitive viewers. But for the most part, this combination of outlandish adventure and cautionary tale is unobjectionable, portraying the evils of selfishness and unbridled ambition, and urging audience members of all generations to put down their hand-held gizmos, switch off their video games, and have a look around.
 
The film contains occasional menace and mildly gross humor. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested; some material may not be suitable for children.
 
- - -
 
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Matthew: Matthew was a Jew who worked for the occupying Roman forces, collecting taxes from other Jews. The Romans were not scrupulous about what the "tax farmers" got for themselves. Hence the latter, known as "publicans," were generally hated as traitors by their fellow Jews. The Pharisees lumped them with "sinners" (see Matthew 9:11-13). So it was shocking to them to hear Jesus call such a man to be one of his intimate followers. 
<p>Matthew got Jesus in further trouble by having a sort of going-away party at his house. The Gospel tells us that "many" tax collectors and "those known as sinners" came to the dinner. The Pharisees were still more badly shocked. What business did the supposedly great teacher have associating with such immoral people? Jesus' answer was, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' I did not come to call the righteous but sinners" (Matthew 9:12b-13). Jesus is not setting aside ritual and worship; he is saying that loving others is even more important. </p><p>No other particular incidents about Matthew are found in the New Testament.</p> American Catholic Blog The most appealing invitation to embrace the religious life is the witness of our own lives, the spirit in which we react to our divine calling, the completeness of our dedication, the generosity and cheerfulness of our service to God, the love we have for one another, the apostolic zeal with which we witness to Christ’s love for the poorest of the poor.

 
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