A.V. Club review. A superlative (if pretty earnest) community portrait that unfortunately gets hijacked by hackneyed screenwriting-manual nonsense. I was in NYU's Dramatic Writing program in the '90s, and this is exactly the kind of thing that kids get taught in screenwriting classes.
"I just don't feel like Grace's problems are really relevant to the work she's doing. What if...she started working at Short Term 12 because [incredibly dumb spoiler]? That would explain her obsession with, what's the young girl's name, Jaden?"
"But the last thing I want to do is explain it. That's lame. Why does everything have to be so mechanistic?"
[Entire class stares at you blankly, except Harmony Korine who's carving something into the arm of his desk with a ballpoint pen.]