Review of Shortcomings (2023) – A Very Funny and Authentic Comedy

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Review of Shortcomings (2023): A highly amusing and honest comedy originally featured on Ready Steady Cut.

We provide a spoiler-free review of the 2023 film Shortcomings, which was directed by Randall Park.

Shortcomings, the Sundance Film Festival submission, was created by Fresh Off the Boat’s Randall Park. His first time in front of the camera, this is one of the most brutally honest romantic comedies you will ever witness. For instance, the lead character is a well-rounded protagonist who is beautifully flawed, to put it gently. He is a true son of a bitch, to put it bluntly. It’s a romantic comedy with an unlovable lead character.

Shortcomings (2023) Review and Plot Summary

The story follows Ben Tanaka, a former film student who left out a few years earlier and is now miserable, resentful, and opinionated (after Yang’s Justin H. Min). Ben currently oversees a local movie theatre. He is in a relationship with Miko (Ally Maki from New Girl), and the two look to be an odd couple.

Ben isn’t living in the moment and appears to be going through life in a haze, to start with. Ben is watching television late at night when Miko enters, asking if he’s going to bed. Miko isn’t concerned about his REM slumber. Ben brushes her off and informs Miko he will be in later while he stays away from the tarmac and the bright lights she has set up for him.

Shortcomings” Review: Randall Park's Amiable Man-Child Comedy - Variety

Miko, who will move to New York City for a few months, has a good profession and is constantly working to advance it by submitting an application for an internship at an Asian film foundation there. Ben turns to his closest friend Alice (Turning Red‘s Sherry Cola) after she departs. She is gay, but because she comes from a traditional Asian family, her support network will have trouble accepting her because she is a lesbian. She therefore frequently begs Ben to pose as her lover. Ben is frequently more himself around Alice than he ever is around Miko. No subject is off limits to the two of them.

It is a contemporary and brutally honest rom-com, written by Adrian Tomine and based on her graphic novel. Ben frequently discusses dating as it relates to current modern-day concerns on race and culture. It’s common to hear discussions about interracial attraction and stereotypes of Asian men. For instance, Miko frequently finds Ben’s obsession with seeing p**n with white women to be bothersome.

Alice also makes reference to the stereotype of Ben as the stereotypical Asian man attracted to “white” women, which is brought to light when Ben starts showing interest in a new employee named Autumn (Tavi Gevinson), an artist who photographs the appearance of her urine prior to each flush and calls it art. Or when bisexual woman Sasha (a refreshing Debbie Ryan), who is on the rebound, is pursued by Ben.

The film by Park not only succeeds in the micro and mezzo conflicts. It’s humorous and wonderfully drawn to watch Min’s Ben continually put his foot in his mouth regarding his personal life. Ben acts the same way towards Miko and Sasha, but it’s interesting to see how well they can both put up with his toxicity. The other is how Park and Tomine see these young people’s battles, particularly how they struggle to be pushed and placed in their “proper” lanes, as society and their families see them.

Several standout performances, especially those of Justin Min and Ally Maki, help to bring this to life. This is a marriage that is in trouble. They prefer to use expectations to hide shortcomings, which keeps a courtship together. When that inevitable time arrives, there should be tension between them, and their relationship ends. With such a momentous life event, Park is not hesitant to accept the rage, anguish, scorn, and closure that accompany it.

Also Read: The Price of Family Review – a Film About Petty Cruelty Disguised as Comedy

Is the 2023 Film Shortcomings Good?

Shortcomings is an extremely witty observational comedy that Min’s Ben makes as eerie as it is funny. Ben is a contemporary character, which is fascinating as he steps away from his community and support network for the underprivileged. In Park’s film, behavioural flaws and the gaps we create for ourselves are celebrated in an unvarnished humour.

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