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Time Out New York Project: Issue #725, August 20-26, 2009
Dir. Robert Rodriguez. 2009. PG. 89mins. Jimmy Bennett, Jake Short, Kat Dennings.
It’s G-Force, if G-Force was tolerable and had William H. Macy going head-to-head with a giant living booger. Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson might especially appreciate the latter part, considering the frequent references to nasal expectoration in his seminal comic strip. That isn’t to say that Robert Rodriguez’s funny-pages-like fantasy film comes within loogie-hocking distance of C&H’s insight and achievement.
Preteen brace face Toe Thompson (Bennett) narrates the tale of a rainbow-colored wishing rock that falls from the sky into his Austin neighborhood. The joke is that he’s so uncertain as to which events came first that he has to tell the story via a series of chronologically scrambled short films. For anyone familiar with Rodriguez’s trademark ADD stylings, this seems like a particularly up-front metaconfession. Whether he’s doing Sin City or Spy Kids, the writer-director-composer-producer-cinematographer-etc. always infantilizes his audience, jolting our synapses and indulging our slavering desires for goop and gore.
Yet his movies don’t lack for a personal stamp, which at times makes their often-shoddy construction defensible. In Shorts, there’s a pleasantly home-grown aspect to the weightless digital effects, the canted angles and the amateurish performances. The effort is certainly more appreciable than the execution, but props should be given to Rodriguez’s breathless “let’s put on a show” inventiveness. Plus, Macy and the booger—kick ass!—Keith Uhlich