Review: ‘Shortcomings’ (2023), starring Justin H. Min, Sherry Cola, Ally Maki, Tavi Gevinson, Debby Ryan, Sonoya Mizuno, Jacob Batalon and Timothy Simons

October 22, 2023

by Carla Hay

Sherry Cola and Justin H. Min in “Shortcomings” (Photo by Jon Pack/Sony Pictures Classics)

“Shortcomings” (2023)

Directed by Randall Park

Culture Representation: Taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area and in New York City, the comedy film “Shortcomings” (based on the graphic novel of the same name) features an Asian and white cast of characters portraying the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: After an aspiring filmmaker and his girlfriend agree to take a break from each other while she does an internship in New York City, he and his semi-closeted lesbian best friend have various experiences in the dating scene.

Culture Audience: “Shortcomings” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching movies about single people looking for love and having a lot of quip-filled banter about their relationships.

Ally Maki and Justin H. Min in “Shortcomings” (Photo by Jon Pack/Sony Pictures Classics)

“Shortcomings” avoids romantic comedy clichés by not focusing on who’s going to be in a happy romance at the end. It’s a mostly entertaining character study of about a cynical grouch and his lesbian best friend, as they navigate the dating scene. “Shortcomings” is neither a classic film, nor is it an awful movie that’s a waste of time. It’s somewhere in between, as a movie that’s a fairly good option for people who are inclined to like movies where most of the scenes are people talking about themselves and their love lives.

Randall Park, who is best known as a comedic actor (he was a star of the 2015-2020 comedy TV series “Fresh Off the Boat”), makes his feature-film directorial debut with “Shortcomings,” a witty and occasionally sitcom-ish examination of unmarried people with a jaded attitude that often masks the hope of finding true love. (Park has a cameo in the movie as a waiter named Ji-Hun.) “Shortcomings” is based on the 2007 graphic novel of the same name by Adrian Tomine, who adapted the book into the “Shortcomings” screenplay. “Shortcomings” had its world premiere at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and its New York premiere at the 2023 Tribeca Festival.

In the beginning of “Shortcomings,” aspiring filmmaker Ben Takanaka (played by Justin H. Min) and his girlfriend Miko Higashi (played by Ally Maki), who are both Japanese American and in their late 20s, are watching a romantic comedy at a movie theater in Berkeley, California, where they live. The movie they are watching is an unimaginative ripoff of “Crazy Rich Asians,” and it’s playing as part of the East Bay Asian American Film Festival. Miko is one of the programmers of the festival, so she’s thrilled that this movie is there.

After the screening in the theater lobby, Miko says to Ben: “As a community, we waited a long time to see ourselves reflected in a …” Ben then interrupts and finishes the sentence by saying, “A garish, mainstream rom com that glorifies the capitalistic fantasy of validation through wealth and materialism?” Miko looks slightly offended, but she’s become accustomed to Ben making cutting remarks when he doesn’t approve of something. Viewers will find out that Ben doesn’t approve of a lot of things.

Miko and Ben live together and have been dating each other for six years. Ben has issues with Miko recently having a political awakening about her Asian heritage and being more outspoken about Asian representation in many aspects of life. Ben (who occasionally talks out loud to himself and the “Shortcoming” viewers) says of Miko’s newfound political awakening: “She’s doing it because it’s trendy.”

It should come as no surprise that Ben and Miko have not been getting along with each other lately. Most of their arguments are about Ben thinking that Miko is some kind of “sellout,” while Miko thinks that Ben is jealous that her career has been advancing in the movie industry while his has not. Ben works as a manager of a local movie theater called Berkeley Arts Cinema.

Ben and Miko also have very different attitudes when it comes to love and marriage. Miko eventually wants to settle down and get married. She thinks that marriage should be the next step in her relationship with Ben. Ben doesn’t think they need to get married to prove anything. They’ve reached a stalemate regarding this issue.

Miko also has a problem with what she thinks is Ben’s sexual obsession with white women, especially pretty blondes. Ben denies it, but Miko gets triggered when she finds out that Ben has been looking at porn that only has white people in it. Ben thinks she’s overreacting and says it’s ridiculous for Miko to think he can only look at porn with Asian people in it. However, Miko is correct about Ben having an attraction to pretty blondes, based on who becomes his two love interests later in the movie.

And so, when Miko tells Ben that she has accepted an opportunity to do a three-month internship at the Asian American Film Institute in New York City, Ben and Miko mutually agree that they should take a break from their relationship. During this break, they can date other people and figure out after Miko’s internship ends if they should become a couple again or break up permanently. Ben sees it as a chance to explore the dating scene and see what he’s been missing.

Meanwhile, Ben’s best friend is Alice Lee (played by Sherry Cola), a Korean American lesbian who hasn’t told her conservative parents about her true sexuality. Alice not only hasn’t told her parents, she also deliberately misleads them into thinking that she dates men. As shown in the “Shortcomings” trailer, Alice pretends that Ben is her boyfriend when she introduces him to her parents (played by Borah Ahn and David Niu), who don’t have names in the movie.

Ben, who is a self-described movie snob, manages a small staff at Berkeley Arts Cinema. The employees he supervises include two self-admitted movie geeks who are concessions workers: talkative Gene (played by Jacob Batalon) and laid-back Lamont (played by Scott Seiss), who have constant debates and other discussions about movies. In a very meta joke, Gene mentions in one of these conversations that he prefers the “new Spider-Man.” (In real life, Batalon is a co-star of the “Spider-Man” movies starring Tom Holland.)

A new employee who has joined the team has caught the romantic interest of Ben. Her name is Autumn (played by Tavi Gevinson), a hipster who works in the theater’s box office. Ben wants to date her, but he’s also aware of how tricky it can be for a supervisor to date someone who reports to the supervisor. Autumn invites Ben to an avant-garde spoken-word performance that she is doing, and it’s Ben’s chance to see if this could possibly lead to a romance with Autumn, or if she wants to keep the relationship strictly platonic.

Around the same time, Ben meets down-to-earth Sasha (played by Debby Ryan) at a house party where Alice is also in attendance. One of the first things that Sasha says to Ben is: “We’re probably the only two people at this party whom Alice Lee has not seduced.” Sasha also confirms that she’s bisexual when Sasha tells Ben that she’s single and available after breaking up with her most recent girlfriend two months ago. Ben and Sasha have an instant attraction to each other, but Alice tells Ben not to date Sasha, whom Alice calls a “fence sitter.”

As already shown in the “Shortcomings” trailer, Alice decides to move to New York City. What’s not shown in the trailer: Alice moves to New York City because she got expelled from grad school for kicking another student in the vagina during an argument. This violent incident is not shown in the movie. While in New York City, Alice’s life changes when she meets another queer woman named Meredith (played by Sonoya Mizuno), and they quickly become involved with each other.

Ben decides to visit New York City, partly to hang out with Alice, and partly to spy on Miko. This is where the movie gets into sitcom-ish territory. Ben gets jealous after finding out that Miko has started dating a guy named Leo Alexander (played by Timothy Simons), who met Miko through Leo’s filmmaker friend whose movie was at the East Bay Asian American Film Festival. (Miko dating Leo is also revealed in the “Shortcomings” trailer.)

There really isn’t much of a plot to “Shortcomings,” whose appeal is mainly in watching how these characters interact with each other. The best scenes, of course, are those with Ben and Alice, who feel comfortable enough with each other to tell each other exactly how they feel. It’s in contrast to how Ben puts on more of a “nice guy” front as being sensitive and insecure when he’s dating someone new. He’s much more acerbic and pessimistic when people get to know him better and he shows his true personality.

It’s through the characters of Ben and Alice that viewers see how people often present themselves one way to certain people and another way to other people. Min handles his role as the often-unlikable Ben with considerable aplomb. Ben is not a “villain,” but he’s deliberately portrayed as a very flawed, self-sabotaging individual who hasn’t figured out yet that he’s going to have a hard time finding true love if he doesn’t love himself.

In the role of Alice, Cola has impeccable comedic timing and makes her banter scenes with Min have creative sparks of energy that are enjoyable to watch. The friendship between Ben and Alice is more meaningful than many of the romantic relationships shown in the movie. Overall, “Shortcomings” can be an amusing and realistic look at people’s personality quirks and insecurities that often get amplified (or covered up) when they go through the ups and downs of dating. It’s the type of movie that succeeds in its intention of making viewers laugh and feel uncomfortable at the same time, with an ending that is entirely authentic.

Sony Pictures Classics released “Shortcomings” in select U.S. cinemas on August 4, 2023. The movie was released on digital and VOD on September 14, 2023, and on Blu-ray and DVD on October 17, 2023.

Review: ‘Dealing With Dad,’ starring Ally Maki, Hayden Szeto, Peter S. Kim, Dana Lee, Page Leong, Echo Kellum and Megan Gailey

June 2, 2023

by Carla Hay

Cast members of “Dealing With Dad.” Pictured in front row, from left to right: Dana Lee, Hayden Szeto, Ally Maki, Peter S. Kim and Caleb Mantuano. Pictured in back row, from left to right: Megan Gailey, Page Leong and Echo Kellum. (Photo by Steven Lam/1091 Pictures)

“Dealing With Dad”

Directed by Tom Huang

Some language in Mandarin with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in Milpitas, California, the comedy/drama film “Dealing With Dad” features a predominantly Asian cast of characters (with a few white people and African Americans) representing the middle-class and working-class.

Culture Clash: Three siblings in their 30s gather at their parents’ home, where their father is having depression issues, and long-simmering family resentments come to the surface.

Culture Audience: “Dealing With Dad” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in bittersweet dramedies about immigrant families, sibling rivalries, and how childhood experiences affect people through adulthood.

Ally Maki and Dana Lee in “Dealing With Dad” (Photo courtesy of 1091 Pictures)

“Dealing With Dad” is a generally entertaining dramedy about a specific family with universally relatable issues. Some of the jokes are a little corny, but the movie gets better as it goes along. Ally Maki gives an impressive performance as a Type-A perfectionist with daddy issues. “Dealing With Dad” does an overall capable job of balancing family drama and comedy.

Written and directed by Tom Huang, “Dealing With Dad” (which takes place mostly in Milpitas, California) has many of the predictable arguments and squabbles that are usually found in movies about family reunions where family members have long-held resentments and grudges. The family at the center of this story isn’t completely dysfunctional, but most of the family members have problems communicating openly and honestly with each other. They are forced to reckon with many of their issues when the family patriarch becomes bedridden with depression after being laid off from his accounting job.

Jialuo Chang (played by Dana Lee), an immigrant from Taiwan, is cranky and impatient with everyone around him. Jialuo’s self-confidence of being his household’s main financial provider gets a big blow after he becomes unemployed. It’s later revealed in the movie that Jialuo was verbally abusive and sometimes physically abusive to his three children when they were underage. Jialuo currently lives in Milpitas, California, in the same house where he and his wife raised their three American-born children during most of the kids’ childhoods.

Sophie Chang (played by Page Leong) is Jialuo’s often-demanding and judgmental wife, who is also an immigrant from Taiwan. Sophie is openly racist against people who aren’t Asian. She tells her children that she wants them to marry only Asian people. Sophie hides her racism by being smiling and polite to people whom she makes racist comments about behind their backs.

Margaret Chang-Atlas (played by Ally Maki) is an uptight, hard-driving business entrepreneur who likes to be in control of situations. Margaret is actually fearful of disappointing her parents, especially her father. Ironically, Margaret can be just as prickly and difficult with other people as her parents are with her. How much of a control freak is Margaret? There’s a scene in the movie where she and her two brothers are eating at a casual restaurant, and she cuts the food on the plate of the younger brother, as if he’s a helpless child.

Margaret knows her mother doesn’t approve of Margaret being married to an African American musician named Jeff Atlas (played by Echo Kellum), who does not have the type of career that Sophie and Jialuo think is suitable for a spouse. Sophie privately uses the derogatory term “half-breed” to describe Margaret and Jeff’s son Nick (played by Caleb Mantuano), who’s about 7 or 8 years old. But when Sophie is around Nick, she acts like a doting and loving grandmother.

Roy Chang (played by Peter S. Kim) is Margaret’s older brother. He works as a bank manager and is feeling down about his life because his wife Sherry is divorcing him. Roy doesn’t want the divorce and is hoping that he and Sherry can reconcile. He is also sensitive about his body size and gets defensive when his siblings make negative comments about the large portions of food that he eats.

Larry Chang (played by Hayden Szeto) is Margaret’s younger brother. He is 33 years old, a never-married bachelor, unemployed, and currently living with his parents. Larry is a self-described sci-fi nerd who spends a lot of his time and money on collecting sci-fi memorabilia and playing video games. Larry makes a small amount of money by selling his memorabilia at a local comic book/collectible store managed by Aaron (played by Ari Stidham), another sci-fi enthusiast. Larry owes Roy a certain amount of money that is not specified, but it’s enough money that causes Roy to resent Larry.

Jenny (played by Cindera Che) is Jialuo’s younger sister, who lives in Denver, but she goes to Milpitas after hearing about Jialuo’s mental health issues. For years, Jenny has been openly hostile or standoffish to Margaret, who doesn’t know why. During the course of the movie, the reason why is revealed.

Margaret and Roy both live far enough away from their parents that when they both find out that their father is bedridden, Roy and Margaret reluctantly take a plane ride to go to their parents’ home in Milpitas. Margaret’s husband and son don’t go with her. Before this family crisis, Margaret hadn’t talked to her parents in months.

The first half of “Dealing With Dad” is structured and written almost like a sitcom, with a bunch of family members making verbal zingers and lobbying sarcastic insults at each other. It starts to get very repetitive, but not completely boring. Jialuo has become very reclusive, so he is not seen for much of the movie. The three siblings are somewhat relieved that they don’t have to deal with Jialuo’s usual tryannical bossiness, but his wife Sophie causes a lot of drama.

There’s a subplot about Larry reconnecting with a goofy former high-school classmate named Sarah Schumer (played by Megan Gailey), who has recently moved back to the area after serving time in the Peace Corps. Larry has had a crush on Sarah since high school. She has many of the same interests as Larry does, and she likes him, but he is too shy to ask her out on a date.

Meanwhile, a nerdy doctor named Gordon, also known as Gordy (played by Karan Soni), who is a former high-school classmate of Margaret’s, stops by for a house call to treat Jialuo. Sophie is impressed that Gordon is a doctor, so she makes awkward attempts to play matchmaker between Margaret and Gordon, even though neither one is romantically interested in the other. Sophie also tries to set up Larry with a quiet Chinese immigrant named Cai Shi (played by Peggy Lu), who’s about 25 years older than Larry.

Gordon prescribes Zoloft to Jialuo and recommends that Jialuo get therapy for the depression. Jialuo is too proud to accept that he needs this help. The movie takes a much more serious turn when tensions run even higher because Jialou refuses to take the Zoloft. He literally throws the pills across the room. And in one incident, he spits a Zoloft pill in Margaret’s face.

The siblings’ battle to get Jialuo to take his prescribed Zoloft becomes a symbol for the grudges that all three of his children have against him. Margaret has the most resentment toward her father, so she’s the one who fights the most to get him to take the Zoloft pills. Flashbacks to Margaret’s childhood show that Jialuo was the hardest on her, out of all his three children, because he had the highest expectations for Margaret. Miya Cech has the role of Margaret at about 12 or 13 years old.

In one of these flashback scenes, Margaret has a painful memory of Jialuo slapping her hard in the face in front of her softball teammates, after she joyfully told him that she made it onto the softball team. Instead of being happy for her, Jialuo got angry and assaulted her for having “B” grades on her report card. Later, he gave her an apology gift of new softball gloves, which the adult Margaret says are the only signs that she has that Jialuo might have loved her.

“Dealing With Dad” also shows Margaret’s anxiety issues. She has a recurring nightmare that she’s trapped in a narrow hallway that has a tidal wave of flooding that’s about to drown her. Although Margaret likes to put forth an image to the world that she’s got her whole life together, this vulnerable side to her gives the movie more emotional depth. And she’s not a completely sympathetic protagonist, because she has a tendency to act superior to her brothers and other people. It’s a personality flaw that Margaret gets confronted about at one point in the story.

“Dealing With Dad” also has authentic depictions of the dynamics between immigrant parents and their children who were born and raised in the country where the parents immigrated. Jialuo and Sophie want to tightly hold on to their “old school” Taiwanese traditions and have a hard time accepting that their children might not feel the same way. Those traditions include a reluctance to get psychiatric help for mental health issues.

All of the cast members give performances that range from mediocre to very good. The movie is told mainly from Margaret’s perspective, so Maki has the most challenging role, because of the myriad of emotions that she has to convey. The pace of the movie occasionally drags in the middle, but the last third of the film is the best part. Just when you think “Dealing With Dad” might end on an expected formulaic note, it surprisingly shows that, just like in real life, not everyone is going to change annoying personality traits just because of a family reunion.

1091 Pictures/Screen Media Films released “Dealing With Dad” in select U.S. cinemas on April 16, 2023. The movie was released on digital and VOD on May 9, 2023.

Review: ‘5 Years Apart,’ starring Chloe Bennet, Michael Vlamis, Ally Maki, Scott Michael Foster and Craig Low

August 23, 2020

by Carla Hay

Chloe Bennet, Craig Low, Michael Vlamis, Scott Michael Foster and Ally Maki in “5 Years Apart” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

“5 Years Apart”

Directed by Joe Angelo Menconi

Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed city in Arizona, the romantic comedy “5 Years Apart” features a predominantly white cast (with some Asians and African Americans) representing the middle-class.

Culture Clash: Two estranged brothers, who are five years apart in age but share the same birthday, have an awkward and tension-filled reunion on a weekend of their birthday.

Culture Audience: “5 Years Apart” will appeal primarily to people who like realistically written adult comedies with low-key humor.

Craig Low and Chloe Bennet in “5 Years Apart” (Photo courtesy of Gravitas Ventures)

The title of the romantic comedy “5 Years Apart” has a double meaning: The two feuding brothers who are the center of the story were born five years apart, and they’ve been estranged for the past five years. How estranged are they? They haven’t seen or spoken to each other in that five-year period. But that’s all about to change when they unexpectedly see each other again and find out that their love lives have become entangled in an unusual way.

“5 Years Apart,” directed by Joe Angelo Menconi (who wrote the screenplay with Zac Krause), is written in such a way that the characters are realistic and relatable because many adults know people who are just like the ones in this story. The two estranged brothers whose relationship is the catalyst for much of the story’s tension have almost completely opposite personalities and lifestyles. The movie takes places in Arizona during a weekend when the brothers end up in the same place for a birthday celebration. The brothers share the same birthday month and date, but they were born five years apart.

Older brother Andrew (played by Scott Michael Foster) is the responsible one who’s the type of person who likes to meticulously plan out his life. Younger brother Sammy (played by Michael Vlamis) is the irresponsible one who’s the type of person who likes to be impulsive and “go with the flow.” Andrew and Sammy live in Chicago, but (unbeknownst to the other) they’re both in Arizona, to stay at their parents’ house to celebrate their birthday on the weekend that Andrew turns 30 and Sammy turns 25. Their parents (who are not seen or heard in the movie) are on vacation for a month in Italy, so the brothers know that the house will be empty.

Andrew is married to Olivia (played by Ally Maki), who shares Andrew’s penchant for scheduling their lives. The beginning of the movie shows Andrew and Olivia planning for and worrying about when they’ll start a family. They have a slight disagreement because Andrew says he’s willing to take a second job if Olivia wants to take as much time as she can for a maternity leave. Olivia doesn’t want him to take a second job because she thinks he’ll be overworked.

Sammy is carefree and single. As Andrew and Olivia are seen settling into the house, Sammy is flirting with a woman he’s just met outside a bar. Her name is Emma (played by Chloe Bennet), and he immediately charms her by joking that the bar is his “house,” so she needs to take her shoes off before she goes inside. Over drinks, the flirtation continues between Sammy and Emma, who are obviously attracted to each other.

Emma and Sammy find out that they both live in Chicago, but Sammy says that he spends a lot of time in Arizona because he went to college at Arizona State University. (The movie doesn’t name the Arizona city were this story take place, but it’s safe to assume they’re in or near Tempe, which is where ASU is located.) Sammy works for a bounce house company called Sir Bounce-A-Lot. Emma works for a 3-D printing company. It’s a job she doesn’t particularly like, but she says it would be somewhat complicated for her to leave the job because her sister is her boss.

Because they both live in Chicago, Sammy asks Emma if she prefers the Cubs or the White Sox. When she says she’s a Cubs fan, he pretends to be offended because he’s a die-hard White Sox fan, and he jokingly moves to the other side of the bar counter. The banter between Sammy and Emma in this scene (as well as their chemistry together) is entirely believable. They both like to poke fun at each other in a way where you know that it’s a rapport they’ll keep having if they end up as a couple.

It’s not much of a surprise that Sammy and Emma go to his parents’ house for a sexual hookup. Andrew and Olivia are upstairs having their own (scheduled) sex, when they hear noises downstairs and go to investigate. Andrew and Olivia catch Sammy and Emma having sex on the living room couch. And that’s how Andrew and Sammy find out that they both want to stay at their parents’ house that weekend.

It’s also how Sammy meets Olivia in person for the first time and finds out that Emma is Olivia’s younger half-sister. (Sammy never went to Andrew and Olivia’s wedding, but he saw photos of Olivia before they met in person.) Olivia is also Emma’s boss, so Andrew already knows Emma. Stranger things have happened in real life. It’s made clear in the movie that Andrew cut Sammy out of his life, which is why Andrew probably never talked about Sammy to Emma and why she probably never saw any photos of him during the time that she’s known Andrew.

Sammy thinks it’s hilarious that the two brothers are romantically involved with the two sisters, but Andrew is not amused. There’s some back-and-forth tension between the two brothers, as they argue over who will get to stay in the house that weekend. In the end, they both agree to share the house, as long as they “do their own thing.”

Andrew is more determined to keep his activities separate from Sammy, but Sammy wants to be included in Andrew’s upcoming golf game. Andrew and Olivia are both golfing enthusiasts, but Sammy could care less about golf. He just wants to tag along because he knows it will annoy Andrew and because Emma will be there.

Why are Andrew and Sammy estranged? It’s revealed later in the story what caused the fight that led to their estrangement. The last time they saw each other before this trip, it was during a family get-together at Christmas when Andrew and Sammy argued about something, and Andrew punched Sammy in the face. There’s been bad blood between Sammy and Andrew ever since.

The sibling tension isn’t just between Andrew and Sammy. Olivia and Emma  (who have the same mother) also have opposite personalities and have their share of squabbles. Olivia, who has a tendency to be a judgmental control freak, is estranged from her mother, who has a long history of being promiscuous and irresponsible. Emma is more forgiving of their mother, probably because Emma (just like Sammy) hasn’t quite figured out what to do with her life.

Emma and Olivia’s mother has been evicted from her apartment, and Emma has let their mother move in with Emma. When Olivia finds out, she’s furious with Emma, whom she calls an “enabler.” However, Emma sees things differently. She thinks that Olivia has lost her compassion and should be more understanding over why Emma wants to help their mother.

At the golf game, Sammy meets a guy who will be a rival for Emma’s affections. His name is Mark (played by Craig Low), a socially awkward Australian, who sees himself as a macho “jack of all trades,” but he’s actually more of a jackass. Andrew and Olivia know Mark through their job, and they’ve been playing matchmaker because they think Mark would be an ideal boyfriend for Emma. Mark is attracted to Emma, but the feeling isn’t mutual.

And when Mark sees Sammy on the golf course with Emma, the two men instinctively seem to know that they both want to end up with Emma. Therefore, Mark immediately insults Sammy by deriding the shirt he’s wearing and calling Sammy the childish name “Cookie Monster,” after the messy “Sesame Street” character. Mark’s insufferable attitude and constant jabs at Sammy get even worse as the story unfolds, and it culminates in one of the best scenes in the movie.

Meanwhile, it should come as no surprise that Sammy has invited some friends that he knows from his ASU days over to the house for some loud partying. Andrew and Olivia, who were expecting a quiet night at the house, are unhappy about this turn of events. They try to check into nearby hotels and find out that they’re all booked up because of an event happening in the area that weekend. And so, Andrew and Olivia have no choice but to stay in the house during Sammy’s party.

It’s pretty clear that Andrew and Olivia are the uptight “boring” couple, while Sammy and Emma are the open-minded “fun” couple. However, director/co-writer Menconi never veers into caricature territory with any of the characters, thanks to a lot of the movie’s snappy and authentic-sounding dialogue. A lot of credit also goes to the actors, since they all handle the material in a way that looks natural and effortless.

Bennet and Vlamis portray the more interesting couple, and they do such a good job of making Sammy and Emma believable together that people watching “5 Years Apart” might want Sammy and Emma to get their own movie. And although Sammy’s diverse group of friends aren’t in “5 Years Apart” for very long (they’re only in the party scene), they are also written as realistic people. (Malcolm Hatchett as Sammy’s friend Percy is kind of a scene-stealer, with his hilarious facial expressions and the way he delivers his lines.)

“5 Years Apart” isn’t the type of comedy where there are laughs every few minutes because of slapstick moments or raunchy jokes. Most of the humor is subtle and derived from situations that can realistically occur when stubborn and opposite personalities clash. The movie also has some emotionally touching moments that make this comedy worth watching if you want to see a “slice of life” story with people who come across as authentic human beings instead of joke machines or parodies.

Gravitas Ventures released “5 Years Apart” on digital and VOD on August 21, 2020.

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