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Shortbus (2006)

Unrated  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  20 October 2006 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 26,417 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 205 user | 159 critic | 27 from Metacritic.com

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
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Did You Know?


During auditioning and casting, any interested actors were to submit a 10-minute video of themselves describing an important sexual experience. The director received approximately 500 tapes. See more »


Caleb is sitting in a chair in the background when Jamie asks James if James still loves him. In a reaction shot, Caleb is standing in a doorway. 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 »


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

Burning Rubber and Me, Me, Me!
14 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"We're hippies without hope," a character says in "Shortbus." He neglects to mention these people have their heads so far up their asses that they're practically autistic. No one in "Shortbus" is interested in anyone else except as fuel for their own self-image. They'd rather talk about their own needs and what they think their current boyfriends should need.

There is an Asian woman in "Shortbus" who cannot have an orgasm, but damned if she doesn't keep rubbing at it until, by her fourth attempt, we're sick to death of her. (My movie date asked if I smelled rubber burning.)

The rest of the cast are mostly twinks in their early thirties whose narcissism and angst make you want to shout "Have you ever thought of doing some volunteer work?" One of the drugged-out depressed queens suffers so much he feels he must immortalize it on video so others can appreciate his torment after he's dead.

There is a suicide scene in a pool that seems to be there so we can see more of what we've already seen plenty of (not that it's unattractive), and a rescue by yet another alienated twink who has been following all this with his own camera (Yes, another camera). It leads to what must be the film's true "message," a scene where someone plays bottom in anal sex for the first time. Now this might have been the place where the hardcore sex would have been really interesting. However this is one of the places where John Cameron Mitchell chose to be coy and there's only simulated sex. Wha?! Look, either do it or don't.

The great Justin Bond is photographed badly and not allowed to bring us the ripped-to-the-tits high energy fun he delivers any night in his great Kiki and Herb Show. In this home movie, he's reduced to being just another stoned bi-tranny, singing and babbling. Oh, and when the young dominatrix is on screen you can hear members of the audience murmuring "It's the Jennifer Jason Leigh" part.

As for the hardcore scenes, "Shortbus" fails in the same way other legit movies have failed when they tried to incorporate real sex into plot. It's the exhibitionism of the actors that we respond to, and when the sex is over and we're asked to go back to getting involved with these pathologically self-obsessed backward children we feel a little let down.

The trick to slice-of-life movies is to make the ordinary extraordinary. "Shortbus" with its vapid pretty twinks and its half-drawn frustrated women endlessly digging at themselves never does get as interesting at it thinks it is.

79 of 138 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why are all the guys circumcised? pjdavid
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