Wednesday, May 12, 2010
It took 20 years, but I finally was able to see it.
Dabney Coleman plays Burt Simpson. Burt is part of that old movie cliche, a cop only days away from retirement. He is overly cautious, wearing double bullet proof vests. When going in for a blood test for an insurance exam, he is misdiagnosed as having a rare blood disease and only has days left to live.
Burt is estranged from his wife (Teri Garr) and son. He wants to leave them something. With a big insurance policy, that will only pay out if he is killed in the line of duty, he takes on double shifts to try to make this happen. He tries to take down the most dangerous criminals (including Joe Pantoliano as an arms dealer) so that he will be killed and his family will get the money.
Matt Frewer (MAX HEADROOM) plays Burt’s partner and Barry Corbin is the police captain. The film also uses Steve Winwood’s “Roll With It” as its theme song, with father and son singing along to it at one point.
While SHORT TIME is essentially a big cliche, it is actually kind of fun. There are some great chase scenes. The shifts in tone may be a bit much, from scenes of Coleman imagining the future of his family without him, to big explosions and such. But, for the most part, it works.
A big reason is because of the casting of both Dabney Coleman and Teri Garr. Both were big stars in the 1980’s, even starring together in TOOTSIE, but have been quiet lately. To see them again is to realize how much movie screens have been missing them. Coleman could play the whole smarmy wise guy perfectly. And Garr is as winning as she usually is.
The writers, John Blumenthal and Michael Berry would only have one other credit, the Martin Lawrence comedy BLUE STREAK released nine years later.
Director Gregg Champion, the son of Broadway legends Marge and Gower Champion, and stepbrother of the Sagal twins, began working in production on several John Badham films (WHOSE LIFE IS IT ANYWAY, BLUE THUNDER, to STAKEOUT, shots of which are used in SHORT TIME). He made his directing debut with SHORT TIME. Champion would go on to direct THE COWBOY WAY as well as a lot of TV.
Released theatrically by Fox, SHORT TIME has yet to make it to DVD. It was last released on VHS in the early 1990’s. It is available on DVD in the UK.