As a Seattle policeman who has played it straight throughout his 30 year career, “short timer” Burt Simpson has only 8 days left to serve on the force before he retires. However, through a mix-up at the hospital medical lab, Burt is diagnosed as having a terminal illness with only a few weeks to live.
Desiring more than anything else to put his 10-year-old son through Harvard, Burt wants to leave a big insurance payoff for his family. The only catch: he must be killed in the line of duty.
Without telling his partner, Ernie, Burt sets out to do just that by asking for double duty. In one tremendously hilarious scene, Burt wildly chases some gun smugglers in the hopes that he’ll be killed, but ends up fearlessly outperforming his fellow policemen in the pursuit. The thugs are inadvertently captured, and Burt emerges from his vehicle alive because, wouldn’t you know it, he was wearing his seat belt. The department awards him a medal of valor, and, after a similar episode, the silver cross.
The movie gets even funnier on Burt’s last day of duty. The laughs are uproariously loud as passing vans or closing elevator-doors prevent bullets from reaching their mark. When a grenade finally rolls near Burt’s feet, he yells “Yes!”, then watches in disbelief as it continues to roll into the stairwell, plummeting from view before exploding.
Ernie, meanwhile, learns the truth about Burt, who’s hoping that the assailant he’s now battling will finish him off as they hang suspended halfway up a skyscraper. Ernie attempts to tell his partner that he’s not going to die…
As Burt, Dabney Coleman is the perfect casting choice to play someone trying to get killed who can’t. The times in between these chase sequences, though, are sometimes slow-moving and sentimentally sappy. However, Burt does come to realize that tomorrow will take care of itself, even if he is unsuccessful in planning for his family’s future happiness. Thinking that death is just around the corner, his eyes are opened to the life that’s all around him. At one point, Burt and Ernie even have a discussion about life after death after hearing a street person witnessing about Jesus.
This is a good, high-concept action-comedy. The violence is held mainly to property smash-ups, not to people (there is no murder), nor is there any sex or nudity. Sad to say, what could have been an enjoyable moviegoing experience is ruined by several instances of profanity and obscenity, the major offensive element which will keep many people from seeing SHORT TIME.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please address your thoughts to:
Mr. Barry Diller
20th Century Fox
P.O. Box 900
Beverly Hills, CA 90213
Profanities and obscenities; one sexual innuendo; and, some violence