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"SHORTS"
(2009) (Jimmy Bennett, Leslie Mann) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
None Moderate Heavy Heavy Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy Moderate Moderate None None
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None None Heavy Heavy Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Children's/Action: Chaos rules when the residents of a suburban Texas town get their hands on a magical stone that grants wishes to any and all who possess it.
PLOT:
The Thompson family lives in the corporate community of Black Falls, Texas. Mom and Dad Thompson (LESLIE MANN and JON CRYER) work for the local Microsoft-like company, where they are bullied daily by the megalomaniacal CEO Mr. Black (JAMES SPADER). Their son, Toby (JIMMY BENNETT), goes to the local school, where he is bullied on a daily basis by Black's daughter and son, Helvetica (JOLIE VANIER) and Cole (DEVON GEARHART).

One day, a magical rock finds its way into Toby's possession, and it grants him any wish he can think of. Soon, he has friends (the alien variety), his braces are off, and he no longer fears his tormentors.

But the rock has a way of making the rounds of Black Falls. Toby's friend, Loogie (TREVOR GAGNON), and his brothers (REBEL RODRIGUEZ AND LEO HARRIS) get into a crazy backyard adventure with the rock. Toby's sister, Stacey (KAT DENNINGS), unknowingly uses the rock to force her boyfriend to "grow up." A local scientist, Dr. Noseworthy (WILLIAM H. MACY), suddenly has all of his experiments work perfectly - a little too perfectly - as a result of the stone's power. This has potentially dangerous consequences for his son, "Nose" (JAKE SHORT) And so on.

Eventually, the rock finds its way into several hands at a corporate dinner party, setting off a chain of events that threatens not only Black Falls but the entire planet unless the kids can put things right.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Kids will absolutely want to see it, especially pre-teen and tween boys. The child characters drive the action, while the adults are relegated to secondary roles similar to the writer-director's previous "Spy Kids" movies.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For mild action and some rude humor.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • JIMMY BENNETT plays an awkward, good-hearted kid who wears braces and is bullied constantly at school. He comes into possession of a magical stone that grants him any wish he desires.
  • LESLIE MANN plays the mother of Toby, who works for a powerful corporation and is pitted against her own husband in various company challenges. She is a slave to her cell phone, computer and Blackberry-like PDA and rarely has any meaningful time for her son and teenage daughter.
  • JON CRYER plays Toby's father, who is similarly stressed out at work and under constant pressure to produce. He also has a tough time disconnecting from his cell phone, laptop and PDA to be the husband and father he wants and needs to be.
  • KAT DENNINGS plays Toby's pouty, sarcastic big sister.
  • JAMES SPADER plays the corrupt chairman and CEO of a company that wants to rule the world with its technology. He is greedy, arrogant, prone to firing employees on the spot for even the most minor mistakes, and is a demanding taskmaster of a father.
  • JOLIE VANIER plays Mr. Black's angry, aggressive daughter, who is the leader of a small group of bullies who rule the local school with terror tactics. Many of the bad things she does, though, are either to get her father's attention or to follow in his footsteps as the dominant personality in group settings.
  • DEVON GEARHART plays the bullying, sometimes violent son of Mr. Black who delights in throwing Toby into garbage cans.
  • WILLIAM H. MACY plays a scientist employed by Mr. Black, who is deathly afraid of germs and only leaves his home for brief periods - and even then only in a protective suit. He has raised his son to be equally frightened of germs.
  • JAKE SHORT plays Dr. Noseworthy's germophobe son, who wants to join the other kids in the outside world but is scared. He picks his nose often, much to his father's dismay.
  • TREVOR GAGNON plays Toby's friend, a junk-food loving kid who uses the magic stone to wish for such things as an endless supply of candy bars and a fortress.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this children's action film that has been rated PG. There is no profanity or sexual situations in the film, but it is full of some potentially imitative behavior specifically involving children.

    Violence consists of one kid being hit with rocks, thrown repeatedly into trash cans and generally getting bullied throughout. There are also multiple scenes of children in peril that could prove unsettling and/or suspenseful for the youngest and most sensitive viewers. Most have to do with computer-generated fantasy characters like the Booger Monster and crocodiles that can chase people on two legs.

    Bad attitudes are present throughout, especially among the adult characters, as are various thematic elements. Drinking is not present, nor is smoking. Crude humor occurs, which also holds true for some thematic as well as tense family material.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, the director employs a film fast-forward and reverse technique as a form of non-linear storytelling. So, entire portions of the film race by in seconds.



    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • None.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Loogie has a visible scrape on his elbow in a couple of scenes.
  • Toby's face is bruised after it is hit with a rock.
  • At the end of the various fast-forwarding and rewinding sequences, a fart sound is audible once the film comes to a stop.
  • Toby's friend, Loogie, is covered with crocodile goo after jumping down a croc's throat to retrieve the wishing stone.
  • A pterodactyl defecates on Loogie from above.
  • Germs are shown crawling on Toby's friend, Nose, when his father shines a blue light on him.
  • Nose has a habit of picking his nose.
  • Nose's snot transforms into a nasty creature.
  • Dr. Noseworthy passes around a germ-infested, goo-like substance designed to neutralize the wishing stone.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Mr. Black fires employees for the most minor of offenses, taunting them as they are escorted out that they will be losing their homes, as well.
  • Mr. Black pits a husband and wife against one another in a corporate challenge. He threatens to fire the losing spouse and have his/her family permanently exiled from town. This means that whoever wins ultimately loses.
  • At the end of the various fast-forwarding and rewinding sequences, a fart sound is audible once the film comes to a stop.
  • One kid tells another kid to "Shut up!"
  • Toby's big sister, Stacey, generally has a bad attitude throughout. She is prone to pouting and sarcasm.
  • Helvetica and Cole lead a small group of angry, aggressive neighborhood bullies who delight in threatening Toby.
  • Two siblings get into marathon staring contests and keep up the game whether they are at the family dinner table, in class, or sleeping in adjoining beds. While they are doing this, various authority figures (teachers, parents, etc.) are ignored.
  • Toby lets tiny alien friends clean up his room rather than do the work himself.
  • Loogie tells a teacher that a gator ate his homework.
  • Loogie, as one kid points out, uses the rock to wish only for personal things and not "world peace" or something more worthwhile for humanity.
  • Toby takes notes in class that read: "Blah, blah, blah" repeatedly.
  • Helvetica threatens to eat Toby's favorite fish, holding it over her open mouth.
  • In anger, Toby unleashes tiny, mischievous aliens on his classmates, screaming Al Pacino's signature "Scarface" line: "Say hello to my little friends!"
  • Helvetica uses her feet to eat and drink with.
  • Helvetica picks up a dinner roll with her feet and throws it at Toby, hitting him in the face.
  • Helvetica uses the wishing rock to transform her brother into a dung beetle.
  • Helvetica threatens to break Toby's bones.
  • Toby breaks a window to gain access into Dr. Noseworthy's house.
  • Helvetica uses the wishing stone to turn one of her father's employees into a giant hot dog.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence," "Blood/Gore" and "Jump Scenes" may be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material, but probably few if any others.
  • Toby is chased by bullies who throw rocks at him. The rocks land all around him and seemingly explode like grenades, complete with explosion sound effects.
  • Helvetica threatens to eat Toby's favorite fish, holding it over her open mouth, then dropping it in.
  • Helvetica gives a class presentation in which she shows a brief piece of animation in which a female wasp violently stuffs a male wasp into a hive to assert her dominance.
  • The wishing rock is created by lightning bolts as it falls from the sky during an intense storm.
  • Loogie and his two brothers are attacked by snakes and then crocodiles as they try and retrieve the wishing stone. The crocodiles chase them first on four legs, then on two legs.
  • Loogie jumps into one crocodile's open mouth to retrieve the magical rock and is belched out.
  • Just as the brothers are about to be eaten alive, a pterodactyl swoops down - after Loogie wishes for one - scoops them up and flies them to safety.
  • The crocodiles continue to chase the brothers, though, climbing up a castle wall and getting to within a few feet of the boys before one of them wishes them away.
  • Nose's discarded snot grows into an angry, menacing monster.
  • Some very young audience members might be creeped out when Toby's mom uses the magic stone to wish that she and her husband were "closer." The two then become melded together like Siamese twins.
  • Mr. Black uses the wishing stone to change into a mega-powerful Transformers-like robot who then smashes a building, several houses, and wreaks havoc on the street level.
  • A baby rolls into the path of a dangerous alligator creature, but is able to use a super power to freeze the beast in time.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Dr. Noseworthy uses a ray gun he invented to neutralize a snot monster created by one of his experiments.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Dork," "Lunkhead, "Loser," "Wimp," "Freak," "Idiot," "Metal mouth," "Dr. Dumb Butt," "Hillbilly teeth," "Bubble boy," "You big dork," "You dummy," "You jerk," "You look stupid," "You stupid excuse for a brother," "See ya, stooges," "He's a virus," "He's been my personal parasite," "Shut up," "I should break your arms," and "How would you like your braces up your nose?"
  • Two siblings get into marathon staring contests and keep up the game whether they are at the family dinner table, in class, or sleeping in adjoining beds.
  • Bullies throw Toby into trash cans multiple times in the film and cause for him to dread coming to school each day.
  • Toby's mother, father and sister spend family time texting, talking on cell phones, and working on computers rather than relating to one another.
  • Loogie's brothers use multiple TVs to play video games, virtually ignoring the baby sister they were charged with watching.
  • The three brothers leave the baby alone in the family house (albeit with a monitor turned on) as they go outside for an adventure.
  • Toby takes notes in class that read: "Blah, blah, blah" repeatedly.
  • Helvetica threatens to eat Toby's favorite fish, holding it over her open mouth.
  • In anger, Toby unleashes tiny, mischievous aliens on his classmates, screaming Al Pacino's signature "Scarface" line: "Say hello to my little friends!"
  • Helvetica uses her feet to eat and drink with.
  • Helvetica picks up a dinner roll with her feet and throws it at Toby, hitting him in the face.
  • Nose has a habit of picking his nose.
  • Nose picks his nose and flings his snot into his father's science experiment.
  • Helvetica, a pre-teen, uses the stone to wish for a motorcycle, which materializes. She then drives away at a high rate of speed only to eventually crash.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A science experiment explodes in class.
  • Nose's dad jumps from out of view and into a door frame, scaring Toby and his friends.
  • A piece of snot picked from Nose's nose grows into a bona fide snot monster and chases Toby, Loogie and others around the Noseworthy house, trying to eat them. The creature crashes through doors and windows and spills out into the front yard before being neutralized.
  • A storm's thunder and lightning strikes are fairly intense.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A considerable amount of tense, madcap, fast-rhythm music plays throughout the movie, heightening the mayhem and hijinks being portrayed on screen.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • None.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Toby's mother, father and sister spend most of their family time texting, talking on cell phones, and working on computers rather than relating to one another.
  • Dr. Noseworthy exerts considerable pressure on his son to maintain a germ-free environment in their home, chastising him for the smallest of breaches. Noseworthy home-schools the boy and only allows him to go outside in a head-to-toe body suit.
  • Toby's parents are on opposite teams at work, which causes much stress at home.
  • Toby's dad texts his wife a kiss and a hug, even though he is standing just a few feet from her in the same room.
  • Helvetica can't get her father to listen to her, which prompts her to use the wishing stone to give him abnormally large ears.
  • Mr. Black routinely ignores his son and daughter, who vie for his attention.
  • Helvetica uses the wishing stone to turn her brother into a dung beetle.
  • Both Mr. Black and Dr. Noseworthy do not appear to have wives, and it is never revealed whether they are widowers, divorcees, or single fathers.
  • When Mr. Black briefly transforms into a giant robot, his kids fear he will not want them anymore.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • How to deal with bullies, and why it is important not to be a bully.
  • Modern technology and how it is causing families to be more connected, yet also more distant.
  • The pressures placed on families when both parents are career professionals.
  • Germs and why some people are deathly afraid of them.
  • Taking great care in wishing (and praying) for the right things.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Toby is manhandled and thrown in a garbage can by a group of bullies as he tries to go to school.
  • Walking home from school, Toby is pursued by the same group of bullies who throw rocks at him and chase him up a tree. Trapped on one of the branches, the kids continue to throw stones at him, hitting him several times. The last rock knocks him out of the tree, and he lands hard (dazed, but mostly unscathed) on the ground below.
  • Helvetica is accidentally hit in the face with an iPod-like device.
  • Mr. Black angrily smashes rival companies' products during a corporate strategy meeting.
  • A tiny alien punches Toby in the face.
  • Helvetica gives a class presentation in which she shows a brief piece of animation in which a female wasp violently stuffs a male wasp into a hive to assert her dominance.
  • Toby and Helvetica scuffle and eventually fall out of a second-story window at school, landing hard on the ground below. Both end up in traction at the local hospital.
  • A creature made of snot violently crashes through doors and windows as it chases Toby and his friends.
  • Toby runs face-first into a tree.
  • Toby breaks a window to gain access into Dr. Noseworthy's house.
  • Nose runs face-first into a mailbox.
  • Toby's mother trips and falls hard when approaching a house where a dinner party is being thrown.
  • Helvetica punches Toby.
  • Helvetica hits Toby in the face with a purse.
  • Guests at a dinner party are compelled by the wishing stone to mock-strangle each other ("they're at each other's throats"), causing a riot that trashes parts of Mr. Black's mansion.
  • Helvetica crashes a motorcycle, but is uninjured.
  • Toby's mom and dad crash a bicycle into Mr. Black's fountain.
  • The climax involves multiple parties - Toby and Loogie, Helvetica and the bullies, Mr. Black and his corporate security minions, Toby's parents, Stacey's giant-sized boyfriend - jockeying to take possession of the rock. This entails much running, chasing, grappling, and jostling as multiple characters transform into various creatures and the pursuit causes all sorts of destruction to the neighborhood. However, no punches or overly violent actions occur.
  • Mr. Black changes into a mega-powerful Transformers-like robot and smashes a building and several houses, flings a crocodile, and generally wreaks havoc on the street level.



  • Reviewed Aug. 15, 2009 / Posted Aug. 21, 2009

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