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Shortbus (2006)

Unrated  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  20 October 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 26,174 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 205 user | 159 critic | 27 from

A group of New Yorkers caught up in their romantic-sexual milieu converge at an underground salon infamous for its blend of art, music, politics, and carnality.

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Cast overview, first billed only:
PJ DeBoy ...
Caleb, the Stalker
Jay Brannan ...
Alan Mandell ...
Tobias, the Mayor
Jesse, the John
Ray Rivas ...
Bitch ...
Bitch / Shortbus House Band
Shanti Carson ...
Leah, the Beautiful Couple
Jan Hilmer ...
Nick, the Beautiful Couple
Stephen Kent Jusick ...


Numerous New York City dwellers come to the exclusive club Shortbus to work out problems in their sexual relationships. Rob and Sophia are a happily married couple, except for the fact that she has never experienced sexual climax. This irony follows her to work because she is a couples counselor who frequently has to deal with the sexual issues other couples have. Two of her patients are Jamie and James, a gay couple who have been monogamous for five years and counting. James wants to bring other men in to the relationship, and his own history with depression may hint at an ulterior motive. Ceth (pronounced Seth) may be the perfect addition to their family, but Caleb, a voyeur from across the street, may have his own ideas about that. Sophia visits Severin, a dominatrix with secrets of her own to reveal. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Voyeurism is Participation See more »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

20 October 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Sex Film Project  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$107,907 (USA) (6 October 2006)


$1,984,378 (USA) (2 February 2007)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


When we are first introduced to the Shortbus club, a Shortbus guest takes some food off a platter of nibbles. The guest is Jonathan Caouette, director of Tarnation (2003). Shortbus (2006) director John Cameron Mitchell worked as Executive Producer on Tarnation (2003). See more »


The moment Jamie enters alone the swimming pool he is fully naked. When he is rescued by 'the stalker', you can see a (very short) underwater shot of his body wearing black underwear/swimwear. See more »


[first lines]
Jesse, the John: Are you a top or a bottom?
Severin: I beg your pardon?
Jesse, the John: I mean in real life.
Severin: This is real life.
Jesse, the John: Let me put it this way: do you think we should get out of Iraq?
See more »

Crazy Credits

The orgy participants seen throughout Club Shortbus are credited as 'Sextras' at the end of the film. See more »


Featured in Indie Sex: Censored (2007) See more »


We're an American Band
Written & Performed by Yo La Tengo
Published by Roshashauna Music (BMI)/Excellent Classical Songs (BMI)
Courtesy of Matador Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

For Once, Emotion Trumps Sex
19 October 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A married sex therapist doles out relationship advice at work but privately spends her time in search of an orgasm, which she's never had. Two gay men find themselves drifting from one another and introduce a third man into their relationship in an attempt to bring some fulfillment back to their emotional connection. A professional dominatrix excels at abusing clients, but brings that abusive behavior to her personal relationships as well and as a result isolates herself from any true human contact. Meanwhile, all of these characters meet regularly at Shortbus, a sex club where everyone is free to be whatever they want to be, where no one's a freak because everyone's a freak, and where, most importantly, everyone feels a sense of community in a scary post-9/11 world.

Such is "Shortbus," John Cameron Mitchell's emotionally affecting follow up film to his dazzling debut, "Hedwig and the Angry Inch." By now, everyone knows that "Shortbus" contains many scenes of quite explicit sex. As happens with any more conventional film that contains material we are used to seeing only in bona fide pornography, the sex tends to dominate on a first viewing; it's so hard not to be distracted by the explicit scenes and ignore the other things going on. However, it is to Mitchell's great credit that I left the film not remembering the sex as much as I remembered some of the beautiful emotional moments, of which "Shortbus" is chock full.

I saw a screening of this at the Chicago International Film Festival, and two of the actors, Sook-Yin Lee and Lindsay Beamish, were on hand to answer questions. Lee explained what Mitchell was trying to do with this film, and I greatly admire his ambition. She said that he was trying to make an antidote to all of the other films out there that treat sex just as explicitly but in such more negative ways. Sex in our movie culture is usually full of dysfunction -- if it's not downright harmful, it's at best desultory and unsatisfying (think "9 Songs"). Our culture condones graphic violence in films, many times in combination with sex, but squirms away from sex as it really looks, even though it's one of the most natural of human functions. Mitchell wanted to illuminate this hypocrisy and show that sex can be fun, sex can bring people together, sex can make you laugh. It can't necessarily solve problems, as the characters in this film realize, but it doesn't always have to necessarily cause problems either.

My biggest complaint about "Shortbus" is that I felt somewhat left out. As a heterosexual male, I don't feel that I was represented by any of the film's characters. Mitchell, as a gay man, obviously has an understanding of gay relationships, and the storyline with the three gay lovers is handled beautifully. But I felt that Mitchell was stereotyping heterosexual relationships in the same way that heterosexuals stereotype gays. The married couple is bored, unfulfilled, caustic with one another. Lee's character can't achieve orgasm until she comes to a sex club and gets it on with another woman. Just once, can't a film show a heterosexual couple who are happy and having a completely satisfying emotional and sexual relationship? I know this wouldn't make for great drama, but it would at least make me feel better.

I really liked "Shortbus" without feeling that it was a complete bulls-eye for Mitchell. At the very least, he has an outstanding talent and has proved himself to be a young filmmaker to watch.

Grade: A-

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Why are all the guys circumcised? pjdavid
All the men in this film have large penises bdjefferies
Most viewers don't deserve to watch this mitchell_68
Ok so did anyone else Gympie14
Boho just went kitsch dta100
I have no idea what kind of message this movie was trying to send. subtlesilverlinings
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