I recently had a conversation with another critic about the jarring transition that some actors make from playing high school students to playing adults. For my money, the biggest jump is Jon Cryer playing Duckie in Pretty in Pink (1986) to playing 27-year-old stockbroker Andrew in Hiding Out (1987).

Add Brie Larson to those ranks, and not a moment too soon, because she plays a high school senior in The Spectacular Now and a mid-20s supervisor at a foster care facility. Of course, she looks old enough in The Spectacular Now to be playing an undercover cop trying to find the leader of an underage drinking club.

“But,” you say, “this review is about Short Term 12.”

Yes, and I’m avoiding it because Short Term 12 doesn’t ring true. You’d have to be a cold, heartless bastard to not feel badly for teens living in foster care who have clearly suffered abuse—emotional, physical, sexual. But the movie preys on emotions by conveniently serving up a kid who has suffered the same kinds of trauma as Grace (Larson), and irritates by giving her the most patient boyfriend ever, Mason (John Gallagher, Jr.).

Take it with a grain of salt, though. Every other critic in the country is giving Short Term 12 high marks.


Directed by Destin Cretton

With Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., and Kaitlyn Dever

The Screen

96 min.