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SHORTS ($36) is a generally agreeable and amusing family film from writer/director/producer/cinematographer/composer/editor/overage juvenile delinquent Robert Rodriguez, who likes to dabble in kidís movies, almost as much as he does with more adult fare. Having his own production company and wearing almost every movie-making hat imaginable, Robert Rodriguez is able to fully indulge his inner ten-year-oldÖ with SHORTS being the end result. SHORTS is the kind of film that smacks of a kid let loose in a candy story- all sugary treat and zero nutritional value. Not that "that" is a particularly bad thing in itself... at least in terms of a family movie. Kids are certain to get a kick out of SHORTS and I canít say that I wasnít tickled more than a few times by this family friendly enterprise.

The premise of SHORTS finds its youthful protagonist relaying the filmís story out to the audience, in non-chronological order. Utilizing a series of "shorts" or films within the film, the protagonist is able flash back and forward- thus telling how the movie reached its bizarre climax. The ingredients of SHORTS involves a rainbow colored rock that grants wishes; the children from whose hands it passes; an uber-consumer product know as the "Black Box," which does virtually everything; the draconian corporation that manufactures the "Black Box" and finally, the adults who scramble around trying to please their boss, in an effort to avoid getting fired by said draconian corporation. As you might expect, the ingredients boil over into an explosive mess. Jon Cryer, William H. Macy, Leslie Mann and James Spader head up the "star talent" in the adult roles. The largely juvenile cast of SHORTS also features Jimmy Bennett, Jake Short, Kat Dennings, Trevor Gagnon, Devon Gearhart, Jolie Vanier, Rebel Rodriguez, Leo Howard, Angela Lanza, Alejandro Rose-Garcia, Cambell Westmoreland and Zoe Webb.

Warner Home Video has made SHORTS available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. Shot with the Panavision Genesis cameras, SHORTS makes for an attractive 1080p presentation. End-to-end digital production techniques has allowed Rodriguez to tinker with the image and add numerous effects, some of which are rather obvious, but otherwise itís a fairly pleasant, candy coated picture that is offered up on Blu-ray. The image is reasonably sharp and well resolved, not demo quality, but good nonetheless. Dimensionality is also good, while fine detail and texturing are appropriate to a kidís film. Colors are usually vibrant and purposely cartoonish. Blacks appear accurate, as do the whites. Contrast and shadow detail do show some evidence of post-production tinkering, but are otherwise just fine. The image has that pristine all digital quality- smooth and glossy, like a hard candy shell.

SHORTS is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Boisterous, loud and cartoony is a good way to describe the sound design, which complements the visual component rather nicely. All of the outlying channels come to life for the big set pieces, as well as the cartoon-influenced smaller moments. Sounds can, and do, ping-pong around the soundstage at appropriate times. Talky passages are well rendered, with lifelike dialogue and excellent intelligibility. The lossless encode maximizes the over-the-top sound effects, as well as the musical component. As for the bass channel, it delivers the necessary wallop. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. Featurettes and other programs include the following: The Magic Of Shorts (nine minutes), Ten Minute Film School (nine minutes), Ten Minute Cooking School: Chocolate Chip Volcano Cookies (ten minutes) and Show & Tell (five minutes). SHORTS is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, along with a Digital Copy of the film.

With SHORTS, Robert Rodriguez was able to fully indulge his inner ten-year-old. If you are still in touch with that part of yourself, you will get into the film. If not, the ten-year-olds in the household will get a kick out of it. The Blu-ray presentation smacks of end-to-end digital production, which delivers cartoony visuals and sound.



Shorts [Blu-ray] (2009)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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