Whatever’s going on, I don’t care.

Theatrical Release Date: 08/21/2009
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Jimmy Bennett, Jake Short, Kat Dennings, Trevor Gagnon, Devon Gearhart, Jolie Vanier, Leslie Mann, Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, James Spader

While I am definitely outside the target audience of “Shorts”, it is my job to review it anyway. This is a childhood adventure gone awry, which is sad given the plethora of awesome 80s flicks like “The Goonies” or “The Neverending Story” in the same genre. The concept is supremely simple; a magic stone appears and grants the holder’s every wish (well at least sort of).

The main villains for the plucky kid actors are Mr. Black (James Spader) and his amazing all-in-one gadget, the Black Box. As much as I disliked this movie, it was a brilliant exposé on the evils of technology and the consequential fragmentation of real world connections. In a world where everything is at your fingertips (internet, text messaging, cell phones, etc.), it’s easy to forget that there is no substitute for human contact.

This madcap movie is told in a series of short unrelated vignettes. If it had been well done, it could have been an interesting, creative way to deliver the story but the script, acting, and plot failed to pull it off successfully. The movie made me laugh once or twice, but otherwise I was painfully aware of the passage of time and though I continued to hope for it to improve, it never did. Special effects ran the range from decent to cheesy. Frankly, I am not sure if better special effects could have salvaged this film. The cast is made up of relatively unknown child actors and a few key adult actors. Acting was campy at best, which was tragic given that well-known actors like James Spader and William H. Macy were so grossly misused.

The soundtrack was unremarkable, and not something I would ever choose to own. (A bit of random mindless trivia, one of the child actors (Jimmy Bennett) wrote and performed the song “Summer Never Ends” that plays during the credits.)

When the film finally ended, I listened to snippets of conversations and was shocked to learn that the children in the audience really enjoyed this movie. In fact, they spoke highly of it. On the other hand, if you’re over the age of 12, do yourself the favor …and do not waste your valuable pocket money seeing this inane, pointless movie. If you have kids that are dying to see it, drop them off. If you’re craving a childhood action/adventure flick, go rent a classic – I’ll be glad to recommend something which you’re sure to enjoy it a heck of a lot more.

As for me, I felt like I lost valuable …… um …… what do you call them? … Oh, yeah! Brain cells … watching this film. I actually think I lost part of my education watching it; I was bored and constantly wishing for a merciful end, but because the kids seem to like it … drum roll, please … “Shorts” gets … a 1 out of 5.