Short Time (film)

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For the 2005 South Korean film, see Lee Dae-ro Can't Die.
Short Time
Promotional movie poster for the film
Directed by Gregg Champion
Produced by Michael Borofsky
Bruce McNall
Joe Wizan
Written by John Blumenthal
Michael Berry
Starring Dabney Coleman
Matt Frewer
Teri Garr
Music by Ira Newborn
Cinematography John J. Connor
Edited by Frank Morriss
Michael Ripps
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
May 4, 1990
Running time
97 min.
Country U.S.A.
Language English

Short Time is a 1990 comedy action crime movie directed by Gregg Champion which stars Dabney Coleman, Matt Frewer and Teri Garr.


Seattle detective Burt Simpson (Coleman) is a man who is perennially so concerned about planning for the future that he can't really bring himself to enjoy the present. This strains his relationship with his wife Carolyn (Teri Garr) and his young son Dougie. However, this suddenly changes when a mix-up at the hospital (caused by a bus driver who is trying to hide his recent use of marijuana) makes him believe that he has two weeks to live. He subsequently finds out that his family will only receive a small amount of money if he dies of natural causes, but will receive hundreds of thousands if he is killed in the line of duty. He determines that he will find a way to make that happen.

Simpson's first effort centers around a domestic disturbance call. Aware that such affairs routinely turn violent, he eagerly responds. However, it turns out to be an elderly couple. One of them misheard the other because they were deaf, and a kind remark was mistaken for an insult. When the error is revealed, the two happily reconcile. A more promising situation arises a bit later, when Simpson is involved in a wild car chase with some fleeing suspects who happened to be the dangerous gun smuggler Carl Stark's two right hand men Michael and Jonas Lutz. Simpson's vehicle, the suspects' car and much of the city all wind up demolished, but no lives are lost. Simpson is awarded a medal for his bravery.

Simpson then intervenes in a hostage situation involving a crazed man with a bomb. However, due largely to his newfound realization of the importance of life, he is able to convince the bomber to give himself up - but accidentally forgets about retrieving the bomb, blowing up a building in the process. He is awarded another medal for this action.

Between these events, Simpson spends what he believes are his final days finally starting to live in the here and now. He buys a red sports car, spends time with his son, and reconciles with his wife. He also reveals to his partner (Matt Frewer) his genuine respect and affection for him. The latter, mystified at this strange behavior, does an investigation of his own, and soon finds out what has happened.

By the time he has found out, however, Simpson has gotten involved in a running shootout with the heavily armed Stark (Xander Berkeley). The chase ends with both of them balanced on a window washer's scaffold, high on a skyscraper. Simpson's partner reveals to him that he is not going to die, but it is apparently too late: Simpson's adversary falls to his death, and Simpson falls after him.

The final scene occurs at a funeral, first revealing Simpson's family and partner. However, Simpson is also present; the funeral is actually for the bus driver (who died of his condition). Simpson has attended out of respect for the man who "gave me back my life". A photo in his partner's possession shows what happened: although Simpson did fall from the scaffold, his leg became entangled in some ropes, and he wound up dangling upside-down.


The film reunites Coleman and Garr in their second pairing together, following their performances in Sydney Pollack's classic 1982 film Tootsie. In the latter film Coleman and Garr share no screen time together, while their characters frequently interact in Short Time.

DVD Releases[edit]

The film was released on Region 2 DVD by Carlton International Media UK in 2002. It only had a VHS and Laserdisc release in the USA and has yet to be released on Region 1 DVD.

External links[edit]