So this is what it’s come to for Rodriguez. Trading all his indie cred for a movie that plays like a messy sloppy concoction of ideas that never even bother to sort out its stories and characters for the audience. Instead, per Robert’s usual bad habit, we’re given a bunch of supporting characters, main characters, and side characters, all of whom are barely emphasized in the wide scope of this ADD enhanced stink pile. Rodriguez’s style of making the cheapest movie with his quick fix CGI has become something of a really bad habit where the man doesn’t even seem to want to try his hand at complicated filmmaking anymore.
It’s tough to believe that this is the man who gave us “El Mariachi,” but kids have softened his desire to tell stories and rather than thinking about his fan base, he instead wants to reach his sons, which when you think about it isn’t so bad. Until you see the actual movie and then it becomes apparent that Rodriguez’s own form of children’s films require nothing from its target audience except to enjoy the pretty colors and deafening score. Attention doesn’t have to be paid, we don’t have to think about what stories are being told, and we don’t even need to extrapolate upon the ensemble cast of preteens dealing with a magical item that grants wishes. That’s the basic premise. Goofy kids get a wishing stone, make wishes, and things basically go haywire. Remember when I commented about how Rodriguez doesn’t take time to focus?
Well it gets worse when you realize that “Shorts” is actually about a series of shorts involving different characters and their misadventures with bullies, inattentive parents, and the magical item that…well.. is the whole damn reason why we’re asked to watch. After watching films like “Where the Wild Things Are” it’s not too hard to create a film for the kiddies that doesn’t talk down to them or patronize them. Rodriguez patronizes quite often and he replaces the general lack of tone and tension for even more cheesy gimmicks that slowly helps us to see that the man’s story is pretty much paper thin and only worth about an hour of actual screen time. And then there are the laughs which are nowhere to be found. I doubt even the target audience will find much to giggle at when all is said and done.
The structuring is different and confusing and Rodriguez is never keen on verifying who we’re supposed to root for. Rodriguez’s film may stink, but the extras to the adjustable Wide/Fullscreen edition makes for some interesting watching. Among two extras we have “Ten Minute Cooking School” where Robert Rodriguez makes Chocolate Chip Volano Cookies with his daughter Rhiannon. There’s also Ten Minute Film School where Rodriguez explains the process of his brand of filmmaking through “Shorts” and the shorts he’s made with his children. Probably one of the worst movies of 2009, Robert Rodriguez gives up his dwindling fan base in exchange for trying to make another kids film that fails from the first minute out of the gate. Chaotic, messy, and horribly mind-numbing, “Shorts” is doomed to live in obscurity. We can only hope.