By John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service
admonition to be careful what you wish for provides the basic theme of the
clever children's fantasy "Shorts" (Warner Bros.).
Rebel Rodriguez, Trevor Gagnon and Leo Howard star in a scene from the movie "Shorts."
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S.
Conference of Catholic Bishops.
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