An aspiring director named Ben Tanaka (Min) spends his time running an independent theatre rather than honing his craft. He has the good fortune to have Miko (Ally Maki), a gorgeous and wealthy girlfriend, whom he openly despises in favour of white women. Naturally, he is taken aback when she decides to move to New York after receiving an intriguing offer rather than continuing to live in his shadow. Ben begins to pursue the blondes of his dreams with his serial-dating best buddy Alice (Sherry Cola, Good Trouble) at his side before reality compels him to acknowledge his own flaws.

With a Crazy Rich Asians parody that features outstanding cameos from Stephanie Hsu and Ronnie Chieng, Shortcomings opens and (almost) concludes with its most extravagant set piece and most moving reflection on representation. Ben's argument that a formulaic rom-com is considered as the apex of Asian representation is undermined by his own blatant desire to whiteness, although Tomine's writing intentionally uses a range of tones to depict the issue. Ben thinks he is the greatest person to make decisions for everyone, including his girlfriend, best friend, and the new lady at the movie theatre, but he is unaware of how he comes across.

Ben has gone so low by the conclusion of the movie that it's almost impossible to believe he can turn things around in the allotted length, which is Shortcomings' main narrative weakness. If he does, it's because Min is a charismatic actor and because of the depth of his endearing bond with Alice, another problematic favourite. With a sense of humour and compelling source material, Park expertly constructs a discussion about the significance of race in romantic relationships. One wonders if the plot would have been better served as a series because the screenplay doesn't give the ending much opportunity to breathe.

The fact that a movie like Shortcomings exists and that Randall Park had the opportunity to contribute to it ultimately matters. Ben's narrative has subtleties that cannot be fully explored in less than two hours, but the other factors work in concert to give his realistically flawed character life. Shortcomings will have spectators thinking and smiling long after the credits have rolled thanks to a terrific cast that includes Timothy Simons from Veep in a brief but significant cameo.

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