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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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John Joseph of the Cross: Self-denial is never an end in itself but is only a help toward greater charity—as the life of St. John Joseph shows. 
<p>John Joseph was very ascetic even as a young man. At 16 he joined the Franciscans in Naples; he was the first Italian to follow the reform movement of St. Peter Alcantara. John Joseph’s reputation for holiness prompted his superiors to put him in charge of establishing a new friary even before he was ordained. </p><p>Obedience moved John Joseph to accept appointments as novice master, guardian and, finally, provincial. His years of mortification enabled him to offer these services to the friars with great charity. As guardian he was not above working in the kitchen or carrying the wood and water needed by the friars. </p><p>When his term as provincial expired, John Joseph dedicated himself to hearing confessions and practicing mortification, two concerns contrary to the spirit of the dawning Age of Enlightenment. John Joseph was canonized in 1839.</p> American Catholic Blog Humility is possible only for the free. Those who are secure in the Father’s love, have no need of pomp and circumstance or people fawning on them. They know who they are, where they’ve come from, and where they are going. Not taking themselves too seriously, they can laugh at themselves. The proud cannot.


 
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