'Shorts' (Warner Bros.)

I'm spoiled. As a kid, I woke up with Beanie and Cecil and Rocky and Bullwinkle, gobbled down Looney Tunes, Merry Melodies, Speed Racer and Gigantor after school, and passed the early evening hours with The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Even as an uneducated child, I knew the ones with replay value and the ones that quickly grew tiresome. As an adult, I know the ones that still hold up and the ones that make me embarrassed to admit I ever watched them.

That brings me in a roundabout way to Robert Rodriguez' new, live-action film Shorts. Funny, inventive, and very, very clever in micro-bursts of six to eight seconds, Shorts becomes tiresome over the length of its 89-minute running time. I couldn't shake the feeling that it would have been better-suited as a weekly television show, chopped up into brief segments with plenty of commercial breaks in between. Shorts could just as easily have been called "Six Short Sketches in Search of a Synopsis," but then the title would be longer than its attention span.

Aimed squarely at kids, Shorts may, perhaps, please the modern sensibility of today's sub-teens, but I suspect the well has run dry for Rodriguez and family films. The Spy Kids franchise devolved in entertainment value from the first installment to the third, and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl was an unfortunate mess. Rodriguez has built a cottage industry based on a scattershot approach to filmmaking. He's always been a "shoot [film] first, ask [narrative] questions later" kind of director / writer / photographer / editor / composer / visual effects artist. That doesn't serve him well with Shorts.