Plot: Burt Simpson (Dabney Coleman) is just days away from retirement, so he hasn’t been going at full speed at work of late. Of course, as a police detective he faces all kinds of danger and he just doesn’t want to risk going down for the count, even if it means a crook or two manages to escape. He recently separated from his wife Carolyn (Teri Garr), but he still loves her and he is determined to make sure their son attends Harvard when he grows up. After a routine physical, Burt is given some bad news however, as it seems he has a rare, fatal diagnosis. He is given mere days to live and as he learns his life insurance will pay more if he is killed on duty, he begins a more active, reckless approach to his police work. As he tries and fails to be struck down in the field, he also begins to realize how important his family is to him, which leads to him making amends with Carolyn. Will Burt be able to sacrifice himself for the betterment of his family, or is there more to his situation than he knows?
Entertainment Value: This madcap comedy was released in 1990, but has all the 80s flavor you could want. The premise seems a little dark, but the movie is light and brisk, even as Burt chases his own death. This is a “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” tale and of course, once he realizes death is around the corner, Burt’s priorities fall back in line. So there’s a nice relationship thread as he tries to rebuild his bond with his wife and although he is abrasive at times, his devotion to his son shows he is a caring guy, so he’s easy to cheer on here. At the same time, this is still Dabney Coleman, so of course he is a little hard to like at times and plays on his usual prickly persona traits to effective ends. This is a great role for Coleman to flex his comedic skills, as well as be a little warmer than his usual characters. Matt Frewer has a substantial role here as well as a source of comic relief, while Teri Garr, Joe Pantoliano, and Xander Berkeley also have prominent parts. The humor is a little over the top, but it works well and while thin, the narrative is able to deliver some heartfelt moments. I think Short Time has a lot of charm and I appreciate seeing Coleman in a lead role like this, so fans of 80s comedies should have fun here.
A bare ass is seen thanks to a flimsy hospital gown, but aside from the cheek peek, no nakedness here. No blood. The movie involves some wild moments once Burt decides he needs to be killed in action, but even when he tries to tease death, the movie remains light and comedic. So some pratfalls, physical gags, and light action scenes, but few serious moments and minimal violence. The dialogue is fun here, with a lot of 80s style lingo and Coleman’s dad joke persona, while Frewer has a wealth of one liners and lame jokes to crack off. The humor isn’t mile a minute type stuff, but some fun lines and groan inducing quips are sprinkled throughout. As for craziness, the premise of a guy like Coleman trying to step into harm’s way is a little wacky, but overall the movie stays within the usual comedic boundaries.
Overall Insanity: 1/10