Parents' Guide to

Shortcomings

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Smart, mature romcom deconstruction; lots of swearing.

Movie R 2023 92 minutes
Shortcomings Movie Poster: Ben (Justin H. Min), Miko (Ally Maki), and Alice (Sherry Cola) stand several feet apart from one another in a public park as a BART train races by on an elevated track behind them

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A smart, movie-savvy deconstruction of the romantic comedy genre—as well as a commentary on diversity and stereotypes—this is a sharp, surprising, and most welcome achievement. The feature directing debut of Randall Park (based on a graphic novel by Adrian Tomine), Shortcomings begins with an argument over a Crazy Rich Asians-like movie (of which we see only the ending) about whether it's a banal formula movie or a groundbreaking, diverse work. Ben argues that he'd like to see more "real" characters, like himself. The characters working at the movie theater provide more movie-talk and more perspective. There's even a line about running through the city to do one last grand gesture to win back "the girl."

Shortcomings asks complex questions about representation, including about how Asian Americans view one another in various ways, especially if White people are also in the mix. The real challenge is that the movie asks us to stick by Ben, who, as Miko points out, is angry, depressed, relentlessly negative, and filled with self-hatred. But he still has depth and agency, and we can feel his highs and lows, his pain, and his realization. Shortcomings wraps up with a wow of an ending, bringing us back around to the fictional Crazy Rich Asians-esque movie, but this time seen from a different angle. This is a movie that understands its formula and uses it to create something new and bracing.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: August 4, 2023
  • On DVD or streaming: February 1, 2024
  • Cast: Justin H. Min , Sherry Cola , Ally Maki
  • Director: Randall Park
  • Inclusion Information: Asian directors, Female actors, Bisexual actors, Queer actors, Asian actors
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Topics: Book Characters
  • Run time: 92 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: language throughout, sexual material and brief nudity
  • Last updated: February 2, 2024

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