Director: Robert Rodriguez
Starring: Jimmy Bennett, James Spader, Jolie Vanier and William H. Macy
Distributor: Roadshow Films
Runtime: 89 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Mild themes and comedic violence

Robert Rodriguez makes tough, often brutal, actioners, influenced by his friend, Quentin Tarantino (Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn, Sin City) and, when not doing that, makes films for family audiences (The Spy Kids series). Shorts is for the family.

Rodriguez, in both the serious and the family films, has shown that he has what might be called an extravagant imagination. He also directs, writes, photographs, edits, supervises the special effects, composes the score. A Rodriguez film is definitely his.

This time he enters into the imagination of a very young boy, Toe Thompson (played by Jimmy Bennett who has appeared in many films even though he is so young, Star Trek, The Orphan…). He lives in a town which is completely dominated by the Black Box manufacturing of a black box which is multi-multi-functional. It is all run by tycoon James Spader who has a bullying son and a Wednesday Addams (Jolie Vanier) look-alike daughter who is no mean bully herself.

When a multi-coloured stone hits Toe and begins a long series of adventures passing from one possessor to another – where they can wish for what they like. Children have some simple wishes which lead to crocodiles eating a boy’s homework and giant boogers emerging from a sealed house where a scientist (William H. Macy) is preventing his son from breathing contaminated air and a brother and sister have days’ long staring out competitions. Kids’ stuff! You can see that it is unpredictable!

And what makes it even more unpredictable is that Toe tells his story in chapters that are not in chronological order – we just swoop into various episodes. And then the tycoon gets the stone and wishes for money, money, money. Fotunately, Toe’s parents (Leslie Mann and Jon Cryer) come to their senses – and so does everyone else to have a nice ending. What else?

Entertaining for young children – and parents might be fascinated in their own way.

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