09/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Robert Rodriguez Comes Up Short

Director Robert Rodriguez is capable of making good movies for adults and good movies aimed at children. He showed this in the past with films like Desperado and Spy Kids. With his latest effort he satisfies neither children nor adults and that means failure at the box office. Shorts is a movie aimed at kids that will force tedium on the adults who accompany them. In short it is not short enough!

Shorts is a story about a magic rock that appears in a neighborhood and grants wishes. Of course kids are the ones who find it and they use it to try to make the neighborhood a better and safer place. It is when it gets into the hands of adults that real problems arise.

The central focus of the film is on Toe Thompson (Jimmy Bennett). He lives with his parents in a community that is run and controlled by Mr. Black (James Spader). Mr. Black owns all rights to the "black box" and the company that makes this product is also located in the community. Toe's parents (Leslie Mann and Jon Cryer) work for Mr. Black.

At one time or another the rock falls into the hands of Nose Noseworthy (Jake Short) who lives with his father (William H Macy) in a germ free house. Another kid who gets the rock in his hands is Loogie (Trevor Gagnon).

The girls in the movie are either indifferent like Toe's older sister Stacey (Kat Dennings) or evil like Mr. Black's daughter Helvetica (Jolie Vanier). The parents for the most part are so involved in their own lives that they can't listen to the complaints of their kids.

When you have a cast in a film of the caliber of Macy, Spader, Cryer, Mann, and Dennings it is embarrassing to watch them try to make characters such as these believable. Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins couldn't make these characters believable.

The film is rated PG for mild violence.

If the film had played out in a linear way it might have improved some, but it jumps back and forth in time to tell its story in "short" episodes that are out of order. Rodriguez must have had a reason for doing this but it escaped me.

Shorts is a movie that would have made a good short subject, or at least a better short subject. It certainly didn't need to be made into a full length motion picture.

I scored shorts a small 4 out of 10.