Sunday, June 7, 2015

Azu At The Movies #4: Shorts

Release Date: August 21, 2009
Runtime: 89 Minutes
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Production Company: Warner Bros.
Tagline: Not so tall tales from the director of Spy Kids!

The year is 2009. I'm sitting in my dad's truck at the drive in movie theatre watching three different films. One of those films happens to be a movie called "Shorts". As I was watching the movie, I had no idea what was going on! By the time the film had ended, I was still trying to figure out what I just watched. I didn't know what to think of the film until the guy in the pickup truck in front of me said this: "This is one of the worst films I've seen in 11 years." But now that I'm older and have a better understanding of the film from watching it again, has this movie gotten any better? Well, let's check out the story.

Since the structure of this movie's story is a series of vignettes told out of order, I'm going to do my best to tell the story in order and in summary form. In the small town of Black Falls, every house looks the same and almost everyone works for Black Box Unlimited Worldwide Industries, purveyors of a device that is sweeping the nation. Eleven year old Toe Johnson is unimpressed with the company and its wares. All he wants in life is just a few friends. After a storm hits the town, a wish-granting rock falls from the sky and changes everything. The town swarms with wishes gone amok, but the trouble really begins when adults get their hands on the rock.

I'll give this movie some credit. There's a lot of creativity from the wishes that the citizens of the town make such as bipedal crocodiles, giant robots, tiny alien pals, booger monsters, telekinetic babies, etc. The acting is also pretty decent and a step up from something like the wooden acting from The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. However, this film still has some major flaws.

One of these flaws happens to be the overall story structure. Like I said, the movie is told out of order in a series of vignettes. Before you say anything, I'm not against films that don't follow the three act structure as not every movie requires that format in order to tell a good story. However, in this movie, the structure works to the film's disadvantage because it kills any sort of tension and suspense that the movie had spent time building. You see as soon as something starts to get going, it stops and moves onto something completely different. To make matters worse, the transitions consist of rewinding, fast forwarding, and pausing. It's kind of like somebody screwing around with a DVD remote. While this might not seem bad at first, it starts to become really irritating as the movie progresses. I think they used this sort of structure to capture the style of a child's recollection of events which does sound interesting on paper but fails when tested in the field. I get that a similar style of storytelling has worked in another Rodriguez film called "Sin City", but just because something worked in one film doesn't mean it will automatically work in another film.

Another issue with this movie is the pacing. This film seems to be afraid of taking breaks and having quiet moments because throughout most of this movie, there's always someone talking, always something making noise, and there's always music playing. Because of this, the movie can wear you down rather quickly and by the end of it, you just want to take a nap. I get that this is a kid's movie and you have to do your best to entertain the kids but there are better ways of doing this. When I saw this movie again, I was worn out within the first ten or fifteen minutes of the film!

Overall, Shorts is one of those films that has good ideas but poor execution. I think if the film followed the three act structure, the ideas may have been able to be fleshed out a little more. For older audiences like teenagers and adults, I'd say this is a definite skip. Would I recommend this movie for kids? Well, that's kind of a tough question. On the one hand, they may get into the creativity that the movie has to offer. On the other hand, they may have a tough time figuring out what's going on due to the structure of the story making a simple plot seem needlessly complex.

Overall Grade: D+


  1. Good job Azu, I am surprised that prior to your review I never even heard of this movie considering it's done by Robert Rodriguez. Though I will admit I don't really have much desire to see this film. Like El Mariachi it made sense for it looking cheap (given it's extremely low budget). Here not so much because it's budget was if I read correctly $20 million. Keep up the good work Ms. Azu!


    1. To be honest, I didn't have much of an opinion about this movie when I was young.