‘Short Term 12’ sheds light on troubled teens’ emotional plights

By Raymond Sobczak

“Short Term 12,” directed and written by Destin Daniel Cretton, is a film about troubled kids, who have even more troubled pasts. Brie Larson plays Grace, a young woman who is the supervisor at a group home for troubled teens. The film starts with Grace riding up to the home as her boyfriend Mason, played by John Gallagher Jr., is telling a rather comedic story to the “new guy,” Nate, played by Rami Malek. As Grace joins the story, we are quickly introduced to Sammy, played by Alex Calloway, as he comes running out the door trying to make a break for “the gate.” It is a boundary that all the kids seem to be aware of — once they pass it, the employees can no longer stop them from running.

As the movie goes on, a comical element weaves together the film. With snarky comments from Larson and Gallagher Jr. throughout, it definitely places a bit of a cushion on a topic that is very serious and may be hard for some people to take.

“Short Term 12” explore this country’s issue of how troubled kids sometimes feel lost and have no one to turn to. They get into trouble, cut themselves and even harm others as cries for attention and for love. The actors in the movie do a great job throughout to instill this message and make sure that the audience can really feel the pain and torturous memories that they are carrying around with them.

We learn that Grace is pregnant early on in the movie, and she has a hard time telling Mason. We later find out that her own emotional baggage is getting in the way of her relationship. We learn what Grace has gone through after Jayden, played by Kaitlyn Dever, comes to Short Term 12 and starts to confide in Grace.

One of the most powerful moments in this movie is when Jayden is sitting down with Grace and opens up her sketchbook. She tells Grace a story about an octopus and a shark. Jayden never says that her father has assaulted her, but she alludes to it when talking with Grace. This stirs up memories and emotions in Grace that she says she hasn’t felt in a long time.

We later learn what Grace has gone through and how it has affected her life. She sees herself in these kids and wants to help them. So much that she even gets too emotionally invested in Jayden and ends up at Jayden’s father’s house with a baseball bat, and with the help of Jayden, they break all of his car windows.

“Short Term 12” is truly an emotional roller coaster, which takes the audience on quite a ride. It had me laughing, crying and, most importantly, thinking. I don’t come across a movie too often that makes me think about humanity and how or what I could do to change things. There were several different aspects of this movie that made myself, and what seemed the audience, so emotionally involved.

The biggest thing for me with any movie is always the camera angles and how the director uses the camera to tell the story. There were many different aspects in the movie where I felt like I was in the room with the actors as they were sharing their deepest feelings and problems.

Overall, the movie was very touching, and thought-provoking. I would highly recommend this movie if you’re looking for a comedy about a very serious social issue. They approach the issues in a very sensitive manner and are still able to break the tension with the occasional comic relief.

Raymond is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected].