Thursday, May 24, 2007

Short Time

One of the most underrated comedy films of the 1990s, SHORT TIME is an affable blend of comedy, action, and drama built around a terrific lead performance by Dabney Coleman (9 TO 5). Gregg Champion, son of acclaimed Broadway, film, and television dancers Gower and Marge Champion, handles his directing debut with aplomb, not only selling the film’s absurd premise, but also staging some nifty action sequences, including a car chase up there with the best of PM Entertainment. At the end of the day, however, it’s Coleman who makes SHORT TIME work by playing his character’s tragic predicament with conviction and heart and letting the laughs come naturally.

High concept plot by BLUE STREAK screenwriters John Blumenthal and Michael Berry finds conservative police detective Burt Simpson (Coleman) believing he has only two weeks left to live, due to mixed-up X-rays at the lab. Because his ex-wife (Teri Garr) and son (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) can only collect life insurance if he’s killed in the line of duty, Burt becomes Dirty Harry, taking enormously risky chances and catching a lot of bad guys in his deliberate quest to get himself whacked, much to the bemusement of his partner Ernie, played by MAX HEADROOM star Matt Frewer (yes, the cop partners are named Ernie and Burt).

20th Century Fox gave SHORT TIME a half-assed May release on only 557 screens — one-fourth as many as TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES played that weekend — and it opened in tenth place. It was out of theaters by the end of the month, and has yet to receive a proper DVD or Blu-ray release. ‘Tis a shame so few people have been exposed to SHORT TIME, as it includes some of Dabney Coleman’s best big-screen acting in an atypically (at the time) sympathetic role.

4 comments:

Jim said...

Jim Wynorski apparently had bought the great car chase where Coleman's basically trying to kill himself chasing the bad guys; at one point, I pitched him a "Stealth Fighter" plot where he asked me to utilize that sequence somehow...as far as I know, he never used it anywhere, which is weird, as it's a fairly obscure sequence as opposed to all those TERMINATOR 2 sequences he used...since I hate all his stock footage ripoffs save MILITIA, I doubt I've seen every single one, but I think you may have, Marty...Did the SHORT TIME car chase show up in any of the Olen Ray/Wynorski flicks?

I know he still does it on occassion...GARGOYLES, one of Wynorski's better recent flicks, has a car chase lifted from some Van Damme film (the Natasha Henstridge one, I think...)...he pulls that one off pretty well.

Marty McKee said...

Hmmmm...DELTA FORCE 2, THE HIDDEN, RED HEAT...I don't recall seeing the SHORT TIME chase in any of them, but I wouldn't be surprised if it has been recycled.

Robert said...

Wexler's Curtain - all time best movie fatal disease name ever.

Jon Sanders said...

Just bought the DVD on eBay. Korean title, but the whole thing is in English. Awesome movie!!