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No Shortage of fun for all ages; Films SHORTS (PG) Verdict: HHHII.

Byline: GRAHAM YOUNG

WHEN Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez teamed up for their ill-fated, four-hour 'Grindhouse' double bill in 2007, we had to wait eight weeks to see the latter's Planet Terror accompaniment to Death Proof.

Funny, then, that I ended up seeing their wholly unconnected follow-ups back-to-back during last Sunday's weekend of public previews.

Inglourious Basterds deserves another 18 certificate for Tarantino.

But Rodriguez has gone in the opposite direction to make a PGrated family comedy.

Thankfully, I saw Shorts first - and that's the way I'd recommend it for fans.

As well as writing, directing and looking after the cinematography, hands-on Rodriguez also co-writes soundtracks (lots of rock guitar!) and co-produces.

Various family members are roped in to help out and, generally, he likes there to be a fair degree of chaos on screen.

So it proves once again here in a film about a boy who finds a coloured rock which can grant wishes in the town of Black Falls.

Naturally, rival children and adults alike want to use it for themselves.

Rodriguez's Spy Kids series illustrated how being a parent himself has helped him to under-stanwhat children want. There's clearly nothing original in the time-honoured central concept here and the film, billed as a 'not-so tall tale', opens strongly in conventional fashion.

But, rest assured, it's soon developing a wholly original life of its own, with upright-walking alligators joining in the fun and young actors Jimmy Bennett (Toe Thompson) and Jolie Vanier (Helvetica Black) both giving likeable performances.

Adults will appreciate stars like William H Macy and the incredibly fattened James Spader join-inin with a movie like this, while younger viewers will enjoy Shorts simply for its pure mad-ness.

Anthat rare feeling of 'whatever will happen next?' Why, they might even learn to be careful what they wish for!

GRAHAM YOUNG

CAPTION(S):

Slimeball: Toe Thompson (Jimmy Bennett) reaches into the Booger in Robert Rodriguez's Shorts.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Aug 21, 2009
Words:319
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