Shorts (2009): C

Ok, so to follow-up his underrated failed experiment with Quentin Tarantino in 2007’s “Grindhouse,” jack-of-all-trades filmmaker Robert Rodriguez decides to make another family film.

Well, in actuality, it’s an anthology of kid-friendly adventures set in the community of Black Falls, where Mr. Black (James Spader) runs a company that has created the jack-of-all-trades device known as the Black Box. He uses onscreen “pause” and “search” buttons to follow our young protagonist through the series of events that will lead to, well, danger and excitement by the end.

I don’t really feel the need to go through the story- it’s all kind of silly. Not “Shark Boy and Lava Girl” silly (and certainly not that bad), but it lacks the imagination and feeling of the first two “Spy Kids” movies. It’s not really necessary to go through the performances, either- Jon Cryer, Leslie Mann, Spader, Katt Dennings, and the like are all playing types, not actual characters.

Still, Rodriguez is a imaginative maverick who isn’t afraid to do things his way. And if anything, you can at least say this for the director of “Sin City,” “Desperado,” and “From Dusk Til Dawn”- he doesn’t known how to make a bland film, or a boring one.