Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Long Story Short

This is a film Andrew Marvell and Robert Herrick would approve of—or so we assume. Honestly, all anyone ever remembers of them are “time’s winged chariot” and “gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” A procrastinator like Teddy isn’t very good at seizing the day, but he will learn his lesson through drastic fantastical intercession in screenwriter-director-co-star Josh Lawson’s Long Story Short, which releases this Friday on VOD.

When Teddy met Leanne, it was certainly eventful. It took him forever to finally pop the question, but even after he did, he only agreed to set a date because of a mysterious stranger’s meddling. Weirdly, she also gave them a strange, mystical tin can that holds the uncanny and inconvenient power of flashing Teddy forward one year, every ten or fifteen minutes or so.

Much to his alarm, Teddy finds himself skipping over Leanne’s pregnancy, the birth of their daughter, and the increasing tensions threatening their marriage. He also finds himself forgetting their anniversary, over and over. With the help of his ever-loyal best friend Sam, Teddy tries to fix his life and stop the fast-forwarding phenomenon, naturally using Harold Ramis’s
Groundhog Day as a model.

Long Story Short
is a bit like the dark and downbeat Adam Sandler vehicle Click, but it is funnier, more optimistic, and generally more pleasant to spend time with. Even when things look really bad, Lawson retains the possibility Teddy can still fix things, or at least improve them.

Rafe Spall perfectly conveys Teddy’s sad sack humor and amiable social awkwardness. We can totally believe the hash he made of things, while still empathizing with him. Likewise, Zahra Newman brings surprising dimension to the increasingly impatient and conflicted Leanne. They have good chemistry together, especially when they are not connecting and even fighting. However, several of the most effective scenes feature Ronny Chieng and Dena Kaplan, as Sam and Teddy’s [once and future] ex, Becka.

A magic aluminum can might sound like a rather drab Macguffin, but Lawson makes it work down the stretch.
Long Story isn’t the cleverest take on time-traveling-warping-twisting, but it maintains sufficient internal logic for viewers to buy-in, while the small ensemble earns the emotional pay-offs. We’ve already implied this, but it bears repeating: Lawson’s film is way better than Click. Recommended for fans of films like Richard Curtis’s About Time, Long Story Short releases this Friday (7/2) on VOD platforms.