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Film / Short Term 12

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"Here we go."

Short Term 12 is an American indie drama released in 2013. It was directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, and is a feature-length adaptation of a short film Cretton had created in 2010.

The titular Short Term 12 is a home for at-risk teens, supervised primarily by young counselor Grace Howard (Brie Larson), her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), with whom she is fairly distant, the sensible Jessica (Stephanie Beatriz), and new hire Nate (Rami Malek). The film focuses on Grace and her relationships with her loved ones and the youth at the facility, including the suicidal Marcus (Lakeith Stanfield) and the spunky new intake Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever), whose troubles increasingly begin to bring Grace's own past to mind.



  • Abusive Parents:
    • Jayden's father beats her, and the reason Grace becomes so sympathetic to her is because Grace's own father sexually abused her in the past.
    • Marcus also details his "crazy" abusive mother, who beat him and forced him to sell things at 10, in a rap.
  • Art Reflects Personality: Jayden is a talented artist and writes a troubling story about an exploitative friendship between a shark and an octopus, which Grace correctly suspects is because her father is abusive.
  • Bittersweet 17: Marcus is unstable because he's upset at having to leave the facility once he turns 18.
  • Book Ends: The film starts and ends with the line staff telling stories about the kids before they are interrupted by Sammy sprinting out of the facility.
  • Bungled Suicide: Marcus is a troubled teen who eventually tries to kill himself, but he recovers.
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  • Dysfunction Junction: To be expected given that it's a film about a group home for troubled youth. The kids Short Term 12 is housing all have their own personal and familial issues, while Grace's own troubles begin to bleed into her work and cause her relationships to unravel.
  • Foster Kid: Mason is a positive example, having been fostered by a loving couple along with many other children, and turned out well because of it.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Jayden considers her name a masculine one because of Jaden Smith.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Played With. Grace was impregnated by her dad, and justifiably got an abortion because of it. Grace is convinced she'll get an abortion when she finds out she's pregnant with Mason's child, but later decides not to go through with it as she's in a better place now.
  • Important Haircut: Marcus wants to shave his head, as it's where his mother used to beat him, and breaks down after he realizes that there's no physical evidence left of her abuse.
  • Percussive Therapy:
    • Grace and Jayden thrash an inflatable dog after Jayden has a violent outburst, which helps the latter calm down.
    • Later, they smash Jayden's father's car with a baseball bat instead of beating the man up after bonding over their shared abuse.
  • The Place: Titled after the facility.
  • Rule of Three: Someone runs out of the facility, triggering the alarm in the process, thrice — Sammy does it in the Book Ends, and Jayden does it in the middle.
  • Self-Harm: Jayden cuts herself. Grace also used to, and they bond over both being cutters.
  • Spiteful Spit: Jayden spits in Nate's face while he and Mason try to hold her down during a violent outburst.
  • Toilet Humor: The film starts with Mason recounting an embarrassing story about pooping his pants while on gate duty to Nate.
  • Troubled Teen: The film is about a temporary group home for at-risk youth. While most of the residents are troubled teens, the film focuses on two: Marcus, a suicidal seventeen-year-old who grew up with an abusive mother, and Jayden, an aloof young girl who self-harms and violently or verbally lashes out because her father is also abusive.