Friday, August 4, 2023

Nicely named 'Shortcomings' briskly overcomes a very few of its own

Who among us does not admit to at least a few "Shortcomings," perhaps in more than a couple of ways similar to the guy leading the parade in actor-turned first-time director Randall Park's spirited movie of the same name.

In this case, formerly hopeful screenwriter Ben Tanaka goes one better -- or worse -- by not copping to any of his imperfections. Now his "Flaws" -- the first of too many chapter labels that Park uses to introduce episodes in the often-irritable Ben's life -- certainly threaten a relationship with longtime girlfriend Miko (the superbly fed-up Ally Maki) and maybe his manager's job at a Berkeley art theater as well. 

Though the above paragraph generally sums up Park's talky film, please know that it eagerly overflows with intelligence and funny quips from its fine assortment of actors.

Justin H. Min ("After Yang") somehow even makes the squirrelly Ben a little lovable at times. Come to think of it, maybe that is because many of his most absorbingly humorous conversations arrive opposite the marvelous Sherry Cola, as his lesbian BFF, a give-and-take confidante with plenty of her own issues, hook-up and otherwise.

The quick-moving tale comes courtesy of the graphic novel from Adrian Tomine, whose own, all-encompassing screenplay not only might help improve the depiction of Asians in Hollywood, but also includes a few noticeably cool pop-culture references. Hey, "Spider-Man" best friend Jacob Batalon plays an arthouse employee engrossed by anything Marvel, while Timothy Simons, whose idiotic Jonah on "Veep" became one of the cable-TV's all-time distasteful dudes, briefly comes out of nowhere as a genuinely witty New York fashion designer.

Rated "R" by MPAA: language throughout, sexual material and brief nudity; 1:32; $ $ $ and 1/2 out of $5.

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