x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Shorts

Shorts is all about fun, fast-paced action and slapstick

This scatterbrained tale of a small US suburb beset by monsters, walking crocodiles and flying saucers after its residents find a magical wishing rock feels like it was written by a child. That's not a criticism, mind you. Unlike many family comedies, which try so hard to impart positive messages to their young audiences or keep parents happy with insider film references, Shorts is about fun. It follows a group of tweens who come into possession of a rainbow-coloured rock, which falls from the sky without any explanation. More often than not, the wishes leave the young characters worse off than they were before, often with elongated arms, oversized ears or battling giant creatures. Things get even worse when their parents find out about the powerful object. As soon as most of the characters realise the stone's power, however, they manage to lose it and become obsessed with getting it back. The director Robert Rodriguez brings the same cartoonish sensibility to Shorts that flowed through the Spy Kids series (he has written a number of fantastic characters, too). His most captivating creation is Helvetica Black (Jolie Vanier), a schoolgirl who doubles as villain and quasi-romantic interest. Each of the film's actors - the adults and the children - give fitting performances, which are more in the vain of Malcolm in the Middle than ET. If there is a message in Shorts, it is to be careful what you wish for and appreciate what you have. But in truth, the film is little more than an excuse for 90 minutes of fast-paced action, slapstick and covering people in slime. It's definitely not deep, but then not many 10-year-olds are either.