The first time I saw an ad for Shorts, I got excited. True, it's a kid's movie. But it looked absolutely fantastically fun. Plenty of humor and wild and crazy fantasy as people learn to be careful what they wish for and who they let do the wishing for them.
If only I had known.
The story is told to us by Toby "Toe" Thompson (Jimmy Bennett). He lives in Black Falls, a special subdivision built around the plant that creates the Black Box. All the adults work in the factory. These devices not only serve as cell phone, computer, and PDA, but they also toast your bread, groom your dog, and do anything else you could want them to do.
One day while being attacked by bullies, Toe finds a special rainbow colored rock. Following the instructions he hears, he makes a wish for friends, only to find small aliens following him around. But things get out of hand at school the next day, and the rock begins a journey around the neighborhood. As various people unknowingly make wishes while holding the rock, crazy things start to happen. Will life for the citizens of Black Falls ever be the same?
I feel slightly bad giving this movie only one star. There were parts I did enjoy. Some of the situations were funny. I especially enjoyed one running gag of a brother and sister who were having a staring contest and therefore were completely oblivious to the world around them. But the fun parts were too few and far between.
The problems with the movie? Where do I even begin?
Unlike the movie, let's start at the beginning. The movie is told is a series of smaller stories. You could call them chapters, really. These short sections are how the movie got its name. But we aren't told the story in chronological order. And aside from one or two lines that are funny because they don't make sense out of context, I'm not exactly sure why. There was no storytelling advantage to breaking up the action. At times, it just left me wondering how we got from point B to point F. I'd be so distracted by that I wasn't necessarily enjoying what was on the screen.
Now I knew from the previews that this movie would feature some pretty far fetched fantasy. It looked like it was going to be played for laughs. And I was ready to sit back, enjoy, and laugh. And that's the way the movie started out. But as the story progressed, it just got more and more outlandish and less and less funny. I was sitting there ready for things to come to a conclusion long before they did.
And don't even get me started on the giant booger monster.
Or the ending. This has to be one of the lamest climaxes I have seen in a long, long time. To say more would be to spoil much, which I am not going to do. Let's just say the ending would make the ancient Greeks and their deus ex machina proud. Not to mention the moralizing. I don't mind the moral of the story, but did we have to have it crammed down our throats like that?
This movie is rather special effect heavy, and they were a mixed bag as well. Some looked absolutely great. Most looked fine, but a bit like stylized computer animation, so I was will to buy them. Then there was that previously mention booger monster. He looked completely fake to me.
Good characters might have gotten us through this movie. But instead we're left with one dimensional cut outs that we never truly got to know or sympathize with. True, we know the Black family is evil, but that's really about it. I mean, look back at my plot synopsis. I managed to only reference one character by name.
Now I'll mention another one. Somewhere in the second half, Helvetica Black gets her own theme song complete with singers singing her name. Since I already didn't like this girl, this just made her even more annoying.
And the acting was a mixed bag. All of it was over the top, but I have a feeling it was supposed to be for this film. And it worked with the kids. There were quite a few of them in this movie, obviously, given the target audience. In addition to the already mentioned Jimmy Bennett, we've got the likes of Jake Short, Trevor Gagnon, and Jolie Vanier in the role of Helvetica Black. All of them were quite adequate in the part. As much as I didn't like Helvetica, I have to give Jolie credit, she was great at bringing out the character's evilness.
Honestly, I expected more from the adults. Toe's parents are played by Jon Cryer and Leslie Mann. Mr. Black is played by James Spader. And another adult is played by William H. Macy. All the adults were so over the top it got annoying quickly. It was beyond campy and cheesy to just plain awful.
What looked like a fun premise for a movie turned into a colossal waste of time and money. If you absolutely must see Shorts, wait until it hits DVD, or better yet, basic cable. Even then, it wouldn't be worth watching.
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Worst Part of this Film: Everything