Shorts (2009) is a Robert Rodríguez family film narrated by a boy who finds a rock with mysterious powers, and this leads him and his neighbors into more trouble than it’s worth. The film focuses on different characters at a time in separate “shorts” that tie together. Basically each short shows how different characters use and abuse the wishing rock. The narrator, Toby Thompson, lives in Black Falls Community, at the center of which is Black Inc., makers of the all-in-one gadget the Black Box. The Box is a phone, a vacuum cleaner, a pet groomer, and a shredder, amongst thousands of uses. Unfortunately the Box is facing stiff competition from imitation products and Black Inc.’s owner, Mr. Carbon Black, is on a rampage to get the Black Box upgrade out to crush the competition.
The film uses the Black Box as a glaring metaphor for all that keeps us from connecting in real life with our friends and family. While the parents and teachers are distracted by their jobs and black boxes, the kids are running around making dangerous wishes. The movie has its amusing moments for us adults, but mostly it is silly fun for kids. The timeline isn’t straightforward so it keeps you interested. There are some great performances by the children, especially Jolie Vanier (playing Helvetica Black), and by veteran actors James Spader (Mr. Black) and William H. Macy (Dr. Noseworthy) as the company germaphobe.
Check out the trailer: