Release Date: November 24, 2009
Starring: Jimmy Bennett (Toe Thompson), Jake Short (nose Noseworthy), Kat Dennings (Stacey Thompson), Trevor Gagnon (Loogie), Jolie Vanier (Helvetica Black)
Written by: Robert Rodriguez
Directed by: Robert Rodriguez
Not So TALL Tales From the Director of ‘Spy Kids’
I’ve just moved into my new ‘old’ house; my audio and video gear is stacked in boxes and the house is a disaster. Nothing is in order and nothing is coherent. It’s taken a few weeks to put things in order and to set up a review system to get back to evaluating discs. What was once a mess is now somewhat orderly and acceptable. I can’t say the same for Robert Rodriguez’s latest film, Shorts. Who is kidding who here? Shorts is a bizarre movie that is one incoherent mess that just can’t be cleaned up without some serious editing. But then, re-editing the film would eliminate the reason this film exists in the first place so we must accept it for what it is.
As if it were born from complete chaos, the film is presented in a series of “shorts” that is out of chronological order to explain a story that is recalled by the mind of the main character, Toe Thompson. He's a brace-face kid who came across a wishing rock that makes wishes come true. But since the end of the film is at the beginning, it's through these series of shorts that we find out it’s not just Toe who has had time with the wishing rock. The bad family in town are the Blacks; the father owns a huge company that manufactures the highly useful Black Box, a technology that does virtually anything that you want it to do. Rich and ruthless father = bratty spoiled kids and they help this adventure reach the climax.
The tagline should have been “Be Careful what you Wish For” because clearly, not thinking twice about what one wishes for (or being as vaguely specific as an 11 year old) can bring about disastrous results. Thus, the film carries on for 89 minutes with symptoms of ADHD. Almost anything and everything is wished for -from crocs on two legs to piles of money, and even giant man-eating boogers, Shorts is all over the place in terms of storytelling attention to detail. It’s no surprise that kids today can’t stand still and focus for more than 5 minutes!
Once the disc is put in, expect to watch at least 5 advertisements/trailers of upcoming kids’ programs. Enough already! The release also comes with a digital copy on a separate disc.
A separate DVD release is available and you can read HTF Reviewer Ken McAlinden’s review herehere[/url].">http://www.hometheaterforum.com/products/shorts/reviews#1147][/url]here[/url].
VIDEO QUALITY: 3.5/5
Shot in 1080/24p, the video is clean enough that I’m going to assume it comes from a digital source rather than a film release. In terms of artefacts, I didn’t see anything in the picture that should not have been there. On the other hand, the video has gone under enough image adjustment to achieve a particular look that it has been robbed of some of its depth and detail. Whites can be a bit hot ruining the whitest of whites. On the other hand, black level is good and detailed. Most of the images are in the day, so one should never have a difficult time enjoying this film on a calibrated display device. Colours tend to be a bit pumped up, but are not objectionable since it complements the rest of the film. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1.
AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5
The Dolby TrueHD encode of this soundtrack offers a nice wide soundstage up front but disappoints in terms of wrapping the sound entirely around the listener during the most engaging moments. Dialogue is definitely ADR and sounds a bit detached and not spatially integrated at all times. Deep bass was occasional and provided some semi-balance to the rest of the frequency range.
TACTILE FUN!!: 1/5
TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF
The LFE added a bit of rumble, but nothing that makes using a tactile transducer worth having on.
SPECIAL FEATURES: 2/5
- The Magic of Shorts (HD) – for approximately 10 minutes, this brief making-of featurette talks about the visual effects in the film
- Shorts Show and Tell (HD) – ooooohhhh…ever wonder what the “insiders” know when they walk around behind the scenes?? This featurette lets you hear from the kids…so, I guess it isn’t all insider information anymore, is it? Not that exciting, really
- Ten Minute film School – Short Shorts (HD)– about 9 minutes in length, you’ll learn how to make your own home movies more interesting with Rodriguez teaching you how.
- Ten Minute Cooking School (HD) – make cookies with the Rodriguez family!
- Exclusive BD-Live features - more features available online but I cannot comment on these because I’m not hooked up.
- Digital Copy with an expiry date of November 24, 2010. One year is all you have so get moving!
IN THE END...
Not entirely entertaining and not a reference A/V disc, Shorts is rather disappointing. It starts off strong and interesting, but as soon as the time travelling begins, it’s all headaches from here. I pray to father time to make these 89 minutes pass faster than ever; Kronos should just eat these kids up and be done with it.
Michael Osadciw Warner Bros. Blu-ray Reviewer
Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment Blu-ray Reviewer
THX/ISF Professional Video Calibrator
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