By Mark Fields


After the critical and box office success of Crazy Rich Asians, Minari, Parasite, and most recently Everything Everywhere All At Once, there has been a significant uptick in Asian-centric movie and TV projects. Shortcomings is, in fact, the second major studio release this summer — after Joy Ride — that features a mostly-Asian (and also, young, cast). I guess it is a perverse sign of progress in Hollywood that even middling movies such as Shortcomings are now getting made.

Directed by actor Randall Park (WandaVision, Fresh Off the Boat), Shortcomings tells the story of three young Asian-Americans in the Bay Area as they each struggle to find professional and personal fulfillment. Ben (Justin H. Min, Beef) is an aspiring filmmaker trapped in a dead-end job. His live-in girlfriend Miko (Ally Maki) works for an Asian film festival. Ben also spends time with his queer best friend, Alice (Sherry Cola, Joy Ride), who herself agonizes with commitment issues and parental disappointment. When Miko leaves for a New York internship, all three of their lives get disrupted and they are forced to re-evaluate their life expectations.

The performances are all solid (especially Sherry Cola), and Park keeps the story moving, but the movie suffers from an unconvincing script and essentially unsympathetic characters. We have seen numerous iterations of this slacker reckoning story, so there is little fresh about this dramedy with the exception of its Asian-American cast.

Mark Fields
Mark Fields has reviewed movies for Out & About since October 2008. In addition, he has written O&A profiles of documentarian Harry Shearer and actress Aubrey Plaza. Over the years, Mark also has written on film for several publications in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and his home state of Indiana, where he also served as on-air movie critic for Indianapolis’s public radio station. Mark was an adjunct instructor of film history at Rowan University from 1998 to 2018. A career arts administrator, he retired in fall 2021 after 16 years as an executive at Wilmington’s Grand Opera House. Mark now leads bike tours part-time and is working on a screenplay. He lives in Trolley Square with his partner Wendy. Mark spent the fastest 22 minutes of his life as an unsuccessful contestant on Jeopardy…sadly, there were no movie questions.