I am asking about the meaning of 'underwritten' in the following sentence? The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for its visual effects and action sequences, but with criticism towards its underwritten human characters.

Thanks in advance.

  • It looks like nonstandard or specialist usage. Possibly a typo.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 1, 2021 at 7:46
  • It looks like nonstandard or specialist usage.
    – Lawrence
    Apr 1, 2021 at 7:46
  • 1
    Personally I take it to mean that the human characters are not sufficiently developed or fleshed out (ie. they seem “two dimensional”) - the writers haven’t written enough about (ie they have “underwritten”) those characters. But as Lawrence says, it’s either a specialist use of the word by filmmakers, or at least a non-standard use of it. Perhaps others familiar with the film industry can confirm.
    – pbasdf
    Apr 1, 2021 at 8:03
  • pbasdf is correct; here's a reference writershelpingwriters.net/2015/11/…
    – Stuart F
    May 1, 2021 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


I might prefer to see 'under-written' there, to avoid confusion with 'underwritten' as used in the insurance business. It's the kind of word familiar to movie buffs and people who read reviews in e.g. Variety:

"With multiple authors but no clear voice, the clumsy “Mulan” script often puts plot above character, depriving Mulan of a robust personality. Defined by her determination, she mostly keeps to herself, which deprives her of meaningful human relationships during the mid-section of the film. Underwritten as she is, Mulan is handily upstaged by Xianniang (Gong Li), a powerful sorceress invented for the film who gives Mulan a strong female adversary. "

Mulan (Variety review)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.