Short Term 12

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Short Term 12 Movie Poster Image
Heartrending troubled-teen drama explores heavy themes.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 96 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Kids need a safe, loving environment to heal and learn to trust again after going through hard times. Providing that kind of place is difficult, and the young people put up plenty of roadblocks, but for Grace and Mason, it can also be rewarding to help them.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Grace, Mason, and the other counselors at the group home strive to create a safe environment for troubled youth, sometimes while enduring emotional and physical resistance.


Brief fights between teens. Several episodes involving youth counselors who must wrestle troubled youths into submission at a group home. Two girls trade fairly graphic stories about how they were abused by their fathers. A young man tries to hurt himself with a shard of broken glass.


Some flirting between couples, and one relatively tame love scene that ends abruptly. A woman is shown bathing, though no sensitive body parts are visible.


Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "hell," "balls," "bitch," and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some characters occasionally smoke cigarettes, and a few scenes include social drinking at parties (not explicitly by underage characters). One teen character hides pot in his room.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Short Term 12 refers to a group home for troubled youths, and the film centers on a supervisor who's charged with creating a safe place for them. It's a tough, honest look at people who've been through difficult experiences (abuse/molestation, cutting, etc.) and need space to heal. Expect plenty of emotional moments as the characters slowly reveal troubling episodes in their past. There's a good deal of swearing ("f--k," "s--t," and more), plus flirting, a relatively tame love scene, some drinking/smoking, and a few intense physical confrontations.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byBestPicture1996 March 3, 2014

Sadly accurate in some ways, not so much in others

Unfortunately I know someone very much like Jayden, the girl "Short Term 12's" main character Grace gets to know. The movie is pitch perfect accu... Continue reading
Adult Written bywonder dove January 19, 2014

Deep & Satisfying!

Short Term 12 is an excellent film that I think many older teens and adults will really appreciate. It's one of those totally realistic, natural films with... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byKelsie123456 July 31, 2016

Great Movie!

(Spoiler alert) I thought it was a great movie, only to find out that the end had a lot of things were untouched. What happened when the baby was born? Did they... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJJ15 March 19, 2016

A little intense, but still amazing

I saw this movie, and I was immediately touched. Grace is such a real and relatable character. The movie was both heartwarming and heart wrenching at the same t... Continue reading

What's the story?

Grace (Brie Larson) is a supervisor at SHORT TERM 12, a group home for troubled youths. She must provide both compassion and discipline to keep her charges in line, while also making them feel safe and protected. She gets help on all fronts from her co-worker/boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). When a teenage girl (Kaitlyn Dever) arrives, Grace tries to break through her tough exterior -- and in the process must relive some tough memories from her own past.

Is it any good?

There's nothing fleeting about the beauty of SHORT TERM 12. It's masterful storytelling, cemented by performances so authentic that you almost think you're watching a documentary. And it takes you to places that feel familiar (in dramas anyway) -- in this case, a halfway house for troubled kids -- but leads you to new places of feeling.

Larson is particularly excellent; her Grace is a classic example of heavy baggage locked up tight and bursting at the seams, but she's also warm and embracing and lovely. (There are no one-dimensional characters here.) The rest of the cast is in fine form, too, rendering the kids at the group home in full detail, thereby making their struggles feel more urgent and acute. Your heart will barely survive. In less talented hands, the film could've easily ended up a treacly, over-dramatic after-school special. Short Term 12 handily avoids that fate.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why they think Grace and Mason are drawn to this type of work. How do their own pasts help them relate to the kids in their care?

  • Parents, talk to your kids about the teens at the group home: What do you think about their struggles? What stands in their way, and what helps them rise above their challenges?

  • Who do you think this movie is most intended to appeal to? Teens or their parents? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love stories about teens

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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