Ben, a struggling filmmaker, lives in Berkeley, California, with his girlfriend, Miko, who works for a local Asian American film festival. When he’s not managing an art house movie theater as his day job, Ben spends his time obsessing over unavailable blond women, watching Criterion Collection DVDs, and eating in diners with his best friend, Alice, a queer grad student with a serial dating habit. When Miko moves to New York for an internship, Ben is left to his own devices and begins to explore what he thinks he might want.
A Korean American and Japanese American millennial couple work out their cultural, heritage, and cinematic differences in this oddly observed romantic comedy. There shortcomings there trigger jealousy, anger, create the usual rom-com stuff.
There is a lot of the director’s Randall Park television persona in Ben, the movie obsessed male lead. The awkward patter, with an semi-intellectual sheen, the nonchalant shrugging off of his many social flubs are all present to those who’ve seen Fresh Off the Boat and his latest incarnation as the fawning reporter that trails Dwane Johnson in the Young Rock. It’s taking the easy way out by falling back on what he knows best. Tone down the usual Park bravado and Ben almost seems a new variation.
In episodic 30 minutes bites that persona is tolerable as long his existence is background. As a lead it becomes insufferable, self absorbed and unwatchable. The movie needs the balance of the girlfriend who keeps him straight. Unfortunately she takes an internship in New York, a three month relationship break, and the movie stays off and listless. Even the lesbian filling in the space doesn’t correct this. She is just a female version of him.
Awkwafina might have juiced this role and saved it from its Shortcomings.
DIRECTOR(S) RANDALL PARK SCREENWRITER ADRIAN TOMINE PRODUCER MARGOT HAND RANDALL PARK HIEU HO JENNIFER BERMAN HOWARD COHEN ERIC D’ARBELOFF MICHAEL GOLAMCO CAST JACOB BATALON TIMOTHY SIMONS EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS RYAN HELLER MICHAEL BLOOM JENNIFER SEMLER MARIA ZUCKERMAN TIM HEADINGTON LIA BUMAN MAX SILVA NEIL SHAH RYAN PAINE DANIEL HANK ADRIAN TOMINE DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY SANTIAGO GONZALEZ BASED ON THE GRAPHIC NOVEL BY ADRIAN TOMINE PRODUCTION DESIGNER BILL BOES EDITOR ROBERT NASSAU COSTUME DESIGNER AVA YURIKO HAMA CASTING DIRECTOR NICOLE ABELLERA HALLMAN PRINCIPAL CAST JUSTIN H. MIN SHERRY COLA ALLY MAKI DEBBY RYAN TAVI GEVINSON SONOYA MIZUNO YEAR 2022 CATEGORY FEATURE COUNTRY UNITED STATES LANGUAGE ENGLISH RUN TIME 92 MIN