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Movie Review

Shorts a.k.a. “Shorts: The Adventures of the Wishing Rock,” “La piedra mágica,” “A Pedra Mágica,” “Das Geheimnis des Regenbogensteins,” “La pierre magique,” “Sihirli tas”

MPAA Rating: PG for mild action and some rude humor.

Reviewed by: Raphael Vera

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Kids, Family
Family, Comedy
1 hr. 29 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 21, 2009 (wide—3,000 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
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Featuring: Kat Dennings, William H. Macy, Leslie Mann, Jimmy Bennett, Jake Short, Trevor Gagnon, Devon Gearhart, Jolie Vanier, Rebel Rodriguez, Leo Howard, Jon Cryer, James Spader, Angela Lanza, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, Cambell Westmoreland, Zoe Webb, Chris Orf, Tina Rodriguez, Jack Hurst, Jonathan Breck, Racer Rodriguez, Rocket Rodriguez, Elizabeth Avellan, Bianca Rodriguez, Pablo D. Flores, Mitchell Parrack, Patricia A. Robinson
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Producer: Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Lin Pictures, Media Rights Capital, Troublemaker Studios, Mohammed Khalaf, Elizabeth Avellan, Ed Borgerding, Stacy Cohen, Dan Lin, Hunt Lowry, Tom Proper, Robert Rodriguez, Asif Satchu, Modi Wiczyk
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Not so tall tales from the director of “Spy Kids””

What would you wish for?

That is the question on the mind of everyone who comes to possess “the wishing rock” and the answers are what make this film just one surprise after another.

“Shorts” begins in the suburb of Black Falls, a town run by Mr. Black (James Spader) head of BLACK BOX Inc. which produces the “do-it-all” gadget that is sweeping the nation. Toe Thompson (Jimmy Bennett) is an 11 year old whose daily school life is made miserable by the two bullying children of Mr. Black led by Helvetica Black (Jolie Vanier).

Toe, who also narrates, admits that, “I’m probably going to have to tell you this story completely out of order, in a series of shorts,” so from the outset we are prepared for a very unconventional ride of a movie that is told pretty much the way a kid would tell a story.

During five (5) “shorts” we get to meet an interesting and diverse number of characters. They include the small but confident ‘Loogie’ and his two brothers Lug & Laser, young ‘Nose’ and his germ phobic scientist dad Mr. Noseworthy (William H. Macy) and Toe’s parents (Jon Cryer, Leslie Mann) who work for Black Box and have been ordered to improve the “Box” or they’ll be fired.

Wishes, in the form of tiny space aliens, warrior crocodiles, living boogers, super powers and anything and everything do come true, just not always in the way the wisher wanted.

Objectionable Issues

Rated PG primarily for peril and some rude language, the dangers are often resolved quickly and given the light hearted nature of the film most children will not be overly concerned. The language is refreshingly clean and though some of the less likeable kids are cruel and demeaning they never cross over into profanities or use the Lord’s name.


Mr. Black’s kids take after their old man, the true villain of the film, and we see early on his “do whatever it takes” cutthroat attitude when he fires some people for just voicing an opinion in a meeting. He would have considered the long term consequences if he remembered God’s admonition from Micah 2:1, “Woe to those who plan iniquity.”

For a family film I wished there were are a lot of positive values promoted but frenetic action and laughs were the point not the plot. The kids, even the bad ones, did obey and honor their parents as the fifth commandment tells us, “Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long…” (Exodus 20:12). Also presented was a comical scene where Toe’s parents learn a lesson from a literal application of Ephesians (Eph. 5:31) where it says, “For this reason a man will… be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh,” but aside from these the storyline did not allow for much else.

Robert Rodriguez, the creator of the Spy Kids franchise, has delivered another entertaining kids film that is long on action and comedy while seriously short on plot. No doubt about it, “Shorts” aims itself squarely at kids, and they will love it! Now, if you can check your adult expectations at the door you may find your ‘inner child’ enjoying this harmless but fast paced guilty pleasure. I know I did. If not it will be like listening to a stranger’s kid tell you a story and you may just end up being annoyed.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments


Neutral—The movie making quality was poor. The only reason we went to see it was that two of my children were extras in the movie. I am ashamed to admit that I even fell asleep during the scene that my children later informed me was the most exciting in the movie. You will see better videos made by 12 year-olds on YouTube for free! Oh well, at least I got a little nap in anyway—an expensive nap, to say the least.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Cheryl, age 38 (USA)
Negative—While the reviewer is correct there’s not a whole lot of objectionable content—I found this to be one of the worst made films I have seen it a long time. Even my 10 year old daughter thought it was badly made. Robert Rodriguez, the director, used to be capable of much better work (Spy Kids 1 and 2). Skip this one; if you must see it rent it for a dollar and don’t let your kids make you watch it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Kevin, age 38 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I saw this movie with my friend Eric. We didn’t like the parts with the bullies, but we thought that the movie was good. My favorite parts were when Toby wished he had friends, and when Luke had a telephone on his head. I would recommend this movie to other children, because it was really funny.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Justin, age 7 (USA)
Positive—“Shorts” really impressed me on how clever and creative and 100% family friendly it was. I enjoyed it and so did my brothers(ages 7 and 9 years). It is true the special effects were not that amazing but the movie itself made up for that. So if you are looking for a clean and great moral discussion movie choice for the family, “Shorts” is it!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Emily, age 11 (USA)
Negative—The movie “Shorts” is likely to be greatly enjoyed by younger people, perhaps children under the age of 10. This is because the movie is almost completely clean, barring one or two slightly inappropriate comments. Whilst this movie is good for younger children, I STRONGLY don’t recommend this movie for people my age and above. I struggled to keep entertained during the course of it, most of the humour was quite weak, and the moviemaking quality was quite poor—nowhere near as good as the Spy Kids movies. In fact, I don’t think I laughed once. There’s only one thing worse than a movie without humour—and that’s a movie that tries to add humour but fails. Whilst I would not reccomend this movie for teenagers and above, parents—this is a suitable movie for you to get out for your kids, and may give the younger ones a laugh or two.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 1½
—Tim, age 13 (Australia)
Positive—This is a good movie. It is really funny.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Joseph, age 12 (USA)
Neutral—Corny--but interesting! I personally felt that this movie was rather silly and idiotic, but my mum and sister found it very entertaining. I didn’t fall asleep through the movie (that I will say). The movie was however refreshingly non-offensive there were no profanities, nor taking God’s name in vain, and no hidden liberal objectives! The only thing I will say is that I didn’t like the scene where the bogger (if that’s how you spell it?) and its transformation into a monster (I found it rather unnecessary and gross), and how the bullies are (their actions are simply deplorable), but you will have a good number of laughing moments. Other than that, I felt it was a nice relief from all the other horrible movies I saw last year (2009)!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Ian, age 16 (USA)