Bottom line: A kids' movie through and through, Shorts is a predictable story told in a new way. The movie is big on laughs (for kids) and also has a lot of heart -- along with the requisite bully problem and mildly rude humor.
MPAA Rating: PG, for mild action and some rude humor
Guide Age Recommendation: 6+
Runtime: 89 minutes
Starring: Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, Leslie Mann, James Spader, Jimmy Bennett, Kat Dennings, Trevor Gagnon, Leo Howard, Devon Gearhart, Rebel Rodriguez, Jake Short, Jolie Vanier
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: August 21, 2009
Shorts - Overview
Toe Thompson is tired of being the nerdy kid in school, and he is especially sick of being picked on by school bully Helvetica Black and her henchmen. Toe is intent on finding a way to change things. But then, ironically, the means to change everything just hits him over the head. A bully just happens to throw a magic rainbow wishing rock at Toe, and he discovers the awesome possibilities when he makes his first, serendipitous wish.
The problem is, you never know what's going to happen when kids' wishes start getting granted all over the place. As the rock is transferred from kid to kid, crazy things start happening around the suburb town of Black Falls. Instead of a boogie man, the town ends up with a Booger Monster. Aliens disrupt the classroom, and an ex-boyfriend turns into a giant. It's virtually impossible to know what a kid is going to wish for once he (or she) has a magic wishing rock in hand, but there is one thing you can be sure of -- the resulting chaos is nothing compared to what happens when the rock falls into the hands of grownups.
Shorts - Guide Review for Parents
A wish gone amiss seems a predictable plot line, and in fact it is, but Shorts does provide few fun surprises. The movie is full of laughs for kids, and though it makes little attempt to humor the adults who may be accompanying them (which is probably one of the reasons kids will like it so much), the film isn't too painful for adults to sit through either.
Shorts progresses in a series of "shorts," as told and recalled by Toe. I was a little disappointed that the telling of the story in this way seemed a bit contrived. The original concept of letting a kid tell an entire story exactly in the way he remembers it, and in the order that the various elements come to mind, is a great idea, but unfortunately it was too forced to seem authentic.
The lessons conveyed through the story are lighthearted and positive. Characters and their actions demonstrate that it is not always good to get what you wish for, it's not good to be greedy, and it's not good to be too wrapped up in work, technology, or other things at the expense of important relationships and spending time together.
Of course this film for kids (which kids had a big hand in making) contains the usual mildly rude humor (lots of booger jokes). Also, several scenes depict school bullies picking on other kids. The bullies do things like shove a kid into a garbage can and throw rocks at him, and they also use some rude and/or sarcastic language. Shorts is another in the long line of "kids save the day despite the dense adults" stories though, so all of the kids seem to come together at least for a while. For more detailed examples of this movie's content, please see the "Content Overview" below.
Shorts - Content Overview*May contain spoilers.
- Violence (Medium): The violence in Shorts is mostly played for laughs. The school bullies, however, do throw a kid in the trash can, threaten him, and throw rocks at him. Other violence in the movie stems from people wishing on the rock. Characters have to fight off a couple of monsters that appear, some characters fight over the rock, and one character tries to use the rock to become "the most powerful thing in the world," resulting in a battle between a wasp, a dung beetle, and a robot.
- Sex/Nudity (None)
- Drugs and Alcohol (None)
- Language (Low): No profanity is used. Kids use rude words like "stupid," "butt," "loser," and "virus" (used in name calling).
- Disrespectful/Imitative Behavior (High): The bullies intimidate and beat up on others. Kids in the movie do various gross or rude things like eat with their feet, have lengthy staring contests, eat a fish out of the classroom tank, and pick boogers.
- Scary Scenes (Low): Content listed under "violence" may be scary for young kids. Most of the perilous or scary situations are highly unrealistic and/or comical, but some kids may be frightened by things like the booger monster, snakes and crocodiles which chase kids, or the mean bullies.
- Sad/Unsettling Scenes (Low): Toe's big sister is sometimes rude and sarcastic to him. His parents (like most people in Black Falls) are always talking, texting, and more on their "little black boxes," so the family is a bit disconnected, which gets even worse when Toe's parents are pit against each other at work. Helvetica's father is demanding and somewhat rude to his children.
Shorts Topics to Discuss
- After seeing Shorts, kids may have questions about the following topics: wishes coming true, school bullies, telekinesis, parents not paying attention to their kids, the proliferation of electronic devices, germs and contamination.