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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.
 
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Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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James of the Marche: Meet one of the fathers of the modern pawnshop! 
<p>James was born in the Marche of Ancona, in central Italy along the Adriatic Sea. After earning doctorates in canon and civil law at the University of Perugia, he joined the Friars Minor and began a very austere life. He fasted nine months of the year; he slept three hours a night. St. Bernardine of Siena told him to moderate his penances. </p><p>James studied theology with St. John of Capistrano. Ordained in 1420, James began a preaching career that took him all over Italy and through 13 Central and Eastern European countries. This extremely popular preacher converted many people (250,000 at one estimate) and helped spread devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. His sermons prompted numerous Catholics to reform their lives and many men joined the Franciscans under his influence. </p><p>With John of Capistrano, Albert of Sarteano and Bernardine of Siena, James is considered one of the "four pillars" of the Observant movement among the Franciscans. These friars became known especially for their preaching. </p><p>To combat extremely high interest rates, James established <i>montes pietatis</i> (literally, mountains of charity)--nonprofit credit organizations that lent money at very low rates on pawned objects. </p><p>Not everyone was happy with the work James did. Twice assassins lost their nerve when they came face to face with him. James died in 1476 and was canonized in 1726.</p> American Catholic Blog We all have fears, but we don’t have to be afraid. Jesus is always with us to protect us and give us courage. We only have to remember that the battle is the Lord’s. When Jesus gives us the victory, let’s be sure to thank Him and praise Him for what He has done.

 
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