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Promotional movie poster
|Directed by||Gregg Champion|
|Produced by||Michael Borofsky
|Written by||John Blumenthal
|Music by||Ira Newborn|
|Cinematography||John J. Connor|
|Edited by||Frank Morriss
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Seattle detective Burt Simpson (Coleman) is a man who is so concerned about planning for the future that he cannot enjoy the present. This strains his relationship with his wife Carolyn (Teri Garr) and young son Dougie. However, this is to change 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. Finding 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 to 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, but 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 follows, when Simpson is involved in a car chase with some fleeing suspects who happen to be gun smuggler Carl Stark's two right-hand men. Simpson's vehicle and their car 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 where, due largely to his newfound realization of the importance of life, he is able to convince the bomber to give himself up. Accidentally forgetting to retrieve the bomb, however, the building is blown up and he is awarded another medal.
Between these events, Simpson spends what he believes are his final days, 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, but by this time 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: Stark falls to his death and Simpson falls after him.
The final scene occurs at the funeral for the bus driver, who has died of his condition. Simpson is suddenly revealed as attending - out of respect for the man who "gave me back my life". A photo in his partner's possession shows what had really happened: although Simpson did fall from the scaffold, his leg became entangled in some ropes and he wound up dangling upside-down.
- Dabney Coleman as Burt Simpson
- Matt Frewer as Ernie Dills
- Teri Garr as Carolyn Simpson
- Barry Corbin as Captain
- Joe Pantoliano as Scalese
- Xander Berkeley as Carl Stark
- Kaj-Erik Eriksen as Dougie Simpson
- Rob Roy as Dan Miller
- Tony Pantages as Vito
- Kim Kondrashoff as Michael Lutz
- Paul Jarrett as Jonas Lutz
- Kevin McNulty as Dr. Drexler
- Paul Batten as Dr. Goldman
- Wes Tritter as Coffin Salesman
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.
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.