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The West Wing
Toe Thompson's discovery of a colorful, wish-granting rock causes a stir in the suburban town of Black Falls, and grand-scale chaos occurs when the object falls into the hands of local adults. Can Toe and his two newfound friends save the residents of Black Falls from themselves?
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Robert Rodriguez sure likes to take a lot of chances. By the time his career is over we're going to be looking at his body of work in amazement. He seems to go from kids films to adult films in a rotation for the last 10 years and those films are so different it's like he's two different filmmakers. But what's similar is his unique style of filmmaking and storytelling that's really not like anyone else's. Whereas his friend Quentin learned the art of stealing from others and making it his own, Rodriguez has learned the art of being totally original while using themes and plots of the classic tales of storyland.
The tale of Shorts is about the magic rock that makes whomever touches it wishes come true. And of course if you've read many similar tales of this nature you know that you never exactly get what you wish for OR you get what you wish for but it might not be what you really wanted all along.
This is something that many of us (and of course kids) always wished we had. A device that will give us what we want. Of course conflict always occurs in these stories because no one ever seems to master the art of the wish. And the audience always thinks that they can do better. It's kind of like winning the lottery. As of 2009, 80% of people who've won 500,000 or more in the lottery have lost it all and have gotten themselves into more debt within 36 months. A lot of times we think we can handle a certain prestige and power but usually history dictates that most of us can't handle it.
But everyone out there thinks they can. And everyone of us thinks that we would never screw up if we had that magic rock like they did in Shorts. We all think we are better than that. So a movie like Shorts hurts the viewing pleasure in that aspect because we can't believe how much these people are screwing up.
The lesson of Shorts is learning to get along. So of course this is a great message for kids. The question is whether Shorts succeeds in delivering that message the best way it can.
If there ever was a critique of Rodriguez it would be that he seems to be too stylized and perhaps tends to forget the story itself. Or that style is really the story he is trying to tell. There are so many characters in Shorts we tend to forget who's who sometimes because we really never get to know any of them too well. There really isn't a journey of one main individual like there is in typical fairy tale stories in this nature. This is more of a story of a town of parents and kids whom all seem to be directly linked to the company Black Box that everyone works for. So we never have anyone to emotionally hang onto except the story itself.
The unique storytelling in Shorts is that it's a film about 5 short stories that interconnect with this magic rock. And in every story there is a new main character. This is an interesting way to tell a feature film but perhaps it's a little too confusing for kids. Or at least that's what was going on in the cinema I was in.
I guess what I was confused about was the film's overall tone. Was this a comedy first then a fantasy? A fantasy first and then a drama? Or just a fantasy? I didn't know whether to laugh at a situation or if it was intended to be dramatically driven.
Overall I love the guts of Rodriguez and this is definitely a watchable film for kids and adults, but unfortunately there are just so many better kids and family films these days and Shorts pales in comparison. Perhaps Rodriguez learned a lot making Shorts so his next film, the very adult titled Machete, is that much better.