Shorts

  • Review Date: August 13, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Funny, imaginative fantasy from Spy Kids director.
  • Review Date: August 13, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Age(i)

2
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5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will definitely remember the message of being careful what you wish for. They'll also pick up on the lessons about how a bully could end up actually being your friend, how greed is bad, and that "green is the new black."

Positive messages

Teamwork and overcoming obstacles (usually in the form of the Black family) are key messages, as is the basic idea that you have to be careful what you wish for -- because you never know if you just might get it. There's also a strong message about family life. Many sibling and parent-child relationships are strengthened over the course of the adventure. Toby makes new friends and rediscovers old ones who all work together.

Positive role models

Toby works tirelessly to keep the rocks from falling into the wrong hands. He convinces others to do the same, even when it's against their self interest. Helvetica, although a somewhat negative role model, is a strong female character, and she ultimately redeems herself. Loogie's brothers are the voice of reason, trying to explain to Loogie that he should be wishing for world peace or the end of starvation instead of fortresses and candy bars. Toby's parents are also good role models, prioritizing their marriage and family above career goals.

Violence & scariness

Cartoonish and fantastical violence includes a booger turning into a giant monster that chases a group of scared people; a person becoming a weaponized, Transformers-like being that wreaks havoc on a town; a kid's "wish" of rattlesnakes and crocodiles coming true (and then attacking him and his brothers); and the like. More realistic incidents include Helvetica's ongoing bullying of Toby, which usually consists of a daily trip, headfirst, into the nearest trash can; kids falling out of a tree; and kids falling out of a window and breaking both arms.

Sexy stuff

Toby jokes that Helvetica picks on him because she actually likes him; they have a middle-school love/hate relationship. Toby's parents lament their loss of intimacy, and, after a rock literally binds them at the hip, they nearly kiss and eventually fix their relationship. Loogie misguidedly flirts with Toby's older sister, who's in a fight with her boyfriend (they eventually make up with a hug).

Language

Fairly frequent use of colorful insults like "lunkhead," "hillbilly teeth," "Dr. Dumb Butt," as well as more traditional ones like "you suck," "freak," and "loser." Kids' nicknames can be mean-spirited, such as "Toe" for Toby, "Hell" for Helvetica, and "Nose" for a boy who eats his boogers.

Consumerism

The candy bar Nutrageous is shown many times as part of a running joke (a boy wishes he had an endless supply), and Skittles and IKEA are both mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Glimpses of adults drinking wine/champagne at a fancy costume party in one scene.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this fantasy adventure from Spy Kids director Robert Rodriguez is sure to appeal to kids and tweens. Expect some mild insults -- like "lunkhead" and "this sucks" -- and potty humor, mostly regarding a booger (one entire vignette is devoted to the topic). The violence is generally humorous and fantasy based; most is directly related to characters' wishes (people transforming into animals, the above-mentioned booger becoming a giant menace, etc.). On a more serious note, the movie has several thought-provoking messages about bullying, family relationships, and technology.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Toby "Toe" Thompson (Jimmy Bennett) lives in Black Hills, a one-industry town run by technology tycoon Carbon Black (James Spader). Every day, Toby is bullied by Black's daughter, Helvetica (Jolie Vanier), and her crew of middle-school toughs. But life as Toby knows it changes when he's hit with a colorful rock that magically grants wishes -- big (a fortress) or small (never-ending supply of candy bars). But he's not the only one in town with eyes on the rock, and, as the movie's title implies, this tall tale is told in five interrelated SHORTS.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The "one-man film crew" that is Robert Rodriguez (writer, director, producer, co-editor, composer) returns to his love of kids' imagination in this loopy funfest. Partly inspired by Rodriguez's own five children, the boisterous adventure is perfectly attuned to its audience, who no doubt will spend the entire 89 minutes laughing in delight at a booger monster, a girl bully turning into a male-swatting wasp, an army of crocodiles, parents literally stuck together, a boyfriend told to grow up (he ends up a giant), and much, much more.

Rodriguez's homegrown special effects aren't anything to write George Lucas about, but kids will be too busy reveling in the slapstick antics to notice that the walking CGI crocodiles are kind of unsophisticated. Instead, audiences will focus on the goofy, tween-targeted action. Anchoring the ensemble are newcomer Vanier (a Christina Ricci lookalike) as the deliciously named Helvetica -- even her own pop calls her "Hell" -- and veteran Bennett (who stole an early scene in Star Trek as the young James T. Kirk). Their appealing characters are two of the many reasons kids will love this unpredictable, pleasantly zippy adventure.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the kids (mis)use the power of the magical rock. Which characters used the rock for good, and which used it for selfish reasons? How did possessing the rock change the characters?

  • What's the movie's message about our modern-day obsession with technology and fancy gadgets (like the Black Box)? Do they help us or hurt us in communicating with others?

  • The relationship between a bully and the person she picks on is one of the movie's main themes. How is bullying portrayed? Do most bullies attack kids physically? What are other ways that bullies can attack?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 21, 2009
DVD release date:November 23, 2009
Cast:Jake Short, Jimmy Bennett, Kat Dennings
Director:Robert Rodriguez
Studio:Warner Bros.
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Run time:89 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:mild action and some rude humor

This review of Shorts was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 9 years old April 26, 2010
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

The Worst!!

HATED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Teen, 13 years old Written byLittle movie freak September 7, 2009
AGE
6
QUALITY
 

Shorts is short, but it is very funny!!!

Shorts: The Adventures Of a Wishing Rock is a very funny movie. There is action in this film,but mostly the action is comical. This movie has language that includes insults and one use of bad language, but the word is played for laughs. There is some gross humor, but it is funny. This is a funny film for kids ages 6- 7+. This movie Shorts is short, but it is still very funny!!!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old June 20, 2010
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

So funny and good effects

A telephone grew out of a kid's ears at some point in the movie which was funny. One of his brothers asked him "What's at the end of the rainbow?" before the telephone part. The kid's reply was "Skittles"
What other families should know
Educational value

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