August 4, 202360/1006 min
Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki
Written by
Adrian Tomine ( based on the graphic novel by/ screenplay by)
Directed by
Randall Park
Run Time
1h 32min
Release Date
August 4th, 2023
Overall Score
Rating Summary

                Bak in the day it was easy as kids to have expectations that you could be anything you wanted to be when you grow up. Of course, there are plenty of people who met those goals and became the Doctor, Firefighter, or DMV Clerk that they always wanted to be. Then, there are the others, whose life kept coming up short of those expectations. There are probably plenty of excuses to why that happened, but if you really think about it, the biggest reason is that you keep getting in the way of achieving them. Shortcomings is about people like that, but it is also manages to be about it never being too late to get out of your own way.

Ben (Justin H. Min) and Miko (Ally Maki) have reached that point in their  relationship where it’s on “cruise control”  For six years they have been together and they now just seem to be stuck in place in life. Neither is holding the other back, but what they once had in common seems to have changed, with Ben not wanting to change and Miko expanding her view of the world. Ben’s other relationship is with his best friend Alice (Sherry Cola), who seems to share his distaste for life, as they act as sounding boards to their own often self-inflicted wounds. Change is coming for Ben, as Miko has accepted an internship across the country, which is going to cause her and Ben to be apart for three months. This separation sounds like a great idea to Ben at first, as it would allow him time to explore other opportunities, but he soon finds that life is not better on the other side of the fence.

Written by Adrian Tomine, from his graphic novel, Shortcomings has layers of both class and racial frictions, as it talks about representation, without the jokes being at any of the character’s expense. The story is told through Ben, who is not very likeable, not because of Min’s performance (he is great), it is because Ben is just not a good guy. Some of us will recognize the stubbornness to his character, which only adds to his lack of any appeal. Others will find it had to follow such a character for 90 minutes, luckily Tomine’s jokes work for anyone, which helps take away a lot of the difficulties of following Ben.

Shortcomings is often quite funny, as it presents its ideas about stories and race that a lot of people will take away from a viewing. It does a stellar job of combining comic moments and social commentary and really is a delight to watch. Justin H. Min does well in playing Ben with all his complexities, but  Sherry Cola is the light you wish the movie had followed, only because she is so damn good. Shortcomings moves at a decent pace; as director Randall Park never gets in the way of Tomine’s scrappy screenplay. This movie does not fit into any mold easily, and while it can be frustrating to watch sometimes, despite an unlikeable protagonist, there is still plenty more to keep this one from coming up short.

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