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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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Joan of Arc: 
		<p>Burned at the stake as a heretic after a politically-motivated trial, Joan was beatified in 1909 and canonized in 1920.</p>
		<p>Born of a fairly well-to-do peasant couple in Domremy-Greux (southeast of Paris), Joan was only 12 when she experienced a vision and heard voices that she later identified as Sts. Michael the Archangel, Catherine of Alexandria, and Margaret of Antioch.</p>
		<p>During the Hundred Years War, she led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. This enabled Charles VII to be crowned as king in Reims in 1429. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft. Professors at the University of Paris supported Bishop Pierre Cauchon of Beauvis, the judge at her trial; Cardinal Henry Beaufort of Winchester, England, participated in the questioning of Joan in prison. In the end, she was condemned for wearing men's clothes. The English resented France's military success–to which Joan contributed. </p>
		<p>On this day in 1431, she was burned at the stake in Rouen, and her ashes were scattered in the Seine River. A second Church trial 25 years later nullified the earlier verdict, which was reached under political pressure.</p>
		<p>Remembered by most people for her military exploits, Joan had a great love for the sacraments, which strengthened her compassion toward the poor. Popular devotion to her increased greatly in 19th-century France and later among French soldiers during World War I. Theologian George Tavard writes that her life "offers a perfect example of the conjunction of contemplation and action" because her spiritual insight is that there should be a "unity of heaven and earth."</p>
		<p>Joan of Arc has been the subject of many books, plays, operas, and movies. </p>
American Catholic Blog Touch can be an act of kindness when someone is dying. If you visit a sick person and find that you are at a loss for words, reach out and touch her hand. It will convey your care for her and can have a calming effect. It says to the person, “You are appreciated, you are cherished, and you are not alone.”

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