Shorts (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Comedy / Family / Fantasy
Warner Brothers || PG - 89 minutes - $35.99 || November 24, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-11-16


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer(s): Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, Leslie Mann, James Spader, Jimmy Bennett, Kat Dennings


Theatrical Release Date: August 21, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 4 Featurettes
  • BD-Live
  • Digital Copy
  • DVD Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

This will be a quick review. Shorts is a movie for kids made by a big kid in writer/director Robert Rodriguez continuing on from the modestly successful Spy Kids movies he made in between Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Plant Terror and Machete, oh and he has a fourth Spy Kids in the pipeline. I guess he figures while he’s making movies targeting adults, might as well give the kids something.

The movie is simple: When a rainbow-striped rock, known as a Wishing Rock, mysteriously arrives in the suburban town of Black Falls – a corporate town where a little all-in-one device known as a Black Box is developed – and it possesses magical powers, in particular the power to grant any wish the beholder wants. Now kids and adults alike want this rock as they want to get whatever they desire. And then we just throw a bunch of kid-friendly crap onto the screen like a giant beetle bug, walking crocodiles or a big booger out for revenge. The sky’s the limit, and so was my tolerance.

I can appreciate certain kids movies but only if it provides even a sliver of something for the adults to latch onto. Look at any one of the Pixar movies; those developers create magnificent worlds that both kids and adults will love along with a story that is captivating. Unfortunately, Shorts is squarely aimed at children from 5-12 (and I think I’m stretching it at 12 given the times). I for one did manage to chuckle a couple of times while admiring Kat Dennings in a thankless role, but most of the time this reminded me of any number of those annoying Disney television series where the plotlines are inane and the acting is oft atrocious.

The movie, probably because of its low budget, doesn’t feature very good CGI, though to be fair making a walking crocodile look real is a tall task. While kids might not mind it, as someone who got quickly tired of the plot, I couldn’t help but keep an eye on the cheap visual effects.

Now, it must be said again, like those Disney shows, this movie isn’t for adults so I don’t feel comfortable bashing it since I am in my mid/late 20s now, thus I am WAY out of the film’s core audience, that being said, it would’ve been nice if Robert Rodriguez could’ve given those over even 13 to at least be entertained by, instead I sat there just waiting for it to all end. Even the great William H. Macy, James Spader and the underutilized Leslie Mann failed to provide any sort of spark for the rest of us.

Shorts is not an awful movie, just a fairly generic and mundane kids movie that will be fine for your children but mom and dad might find it a tad dull at times. There is one good element that you don’t see in the family genre and that’s an editing style which, although self aware as one of the kid actor’s provides a voiceover to guide us, zig-zags us from one part of the movie to another, so kudos to Mr. Rodriguez for at least making it stand out, shame the writing wasn’t enough...



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All features are presented in 1080i/p high definition.

The Magic of Shorts (9:19) – Once the Shorts find the Wishing Rock they come face to face with some incredible creatures! Every kid will want to know where these cool creatures came from and see what makes their favorite wish come to life! This featurette covers some of the pre-visualization and CGI work on the many creatures featured in the film with members of the cast and crew chatting it up about the effects. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Shorts: Show and Tell (5:20) – One of the young actors gets a video camera and takes us behind the scenes and interviews the other cast members. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

The Blu-ray rounds out with Ten-Minute Cooking School: Chocolate Chip Volcano Cookies (9:58) where Robert Rodriguez and his kids teach your kids how to bake cookies; Ten-Minute Film School: Short Shorts (8:50) in which the filmmakers breaks down the production of Shorts in 10 minutes and finally is a digital copy (** Blu-ray Exclusive **)/ and DVD Copy bonus disc plus a BD-Live (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) portal.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Shorts is presented with a 1.85 aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition. The picture, while clear and free of pixilation, dust, scratches and other flaws, isn’t all that well detailed. In particular, some of the foreground images looked a little fuzzy while objects or people close-up do look sharp. Colors are fairly vibrant as most Robert Rodriguez family-friendly films are so it’s a good transfer, but nothing amazing.

The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 is satisfactory with clear dialogue and the action sequences sound well defined, though you’re not getting much of a boom. The center and front channels get the most usage but I did notice some ambient noise and the score coming through the rear channels as well. Like the video, it’s decent, just nothing noteworthy.



.::OVERALL::.

Shorts is a harmless enough movie to capture younger kids’ imaginations for 80-minutes but adults might find parts of it slightly unbearable. I did manage to chuckle a couple of times and having a few recognizable adult actors is nice, but not enough for me to give it a recommendation. If you want a movie the entire family will enjoy, there are other options out there.