Long Story Short

Starring: Rafe Spall

Directed By: Josh Lawson

Where I Watched it: Netflix

English Audio Description Available?: No

The Plot: Time loop/travel movie alert! This time, a man )Spall) wakes up the morning after his wedding to discover that through a magical chance occurrence, his life jumps forward in time every few minutes. Life truly is short.

What Works: I’ve been really appreciating the work that Rafe Spall has been doing on Apple’s drama Trying, so seeing him elevated to sole lead in this comedy was an interesting idea. There literally isn’t anyone in this cast other than Spall whose name I recognized on IMDB. Although, I think that in terms of this films success, banking on the star power of Rafe Spall is probably why you’ve never heard of this film unless Netflix thrust it upon you like it did me.

That being said, Spall is one of those charming actors who if given a serious shot could actually be a leading man, but he’s relegated to only small projects. Marvel has yet to come calling, if you get my drift. The truth is, we see these films all the time, with some form of time loop or time travel, so how do you make them feel unique? Well, this film does a sufficient job of forcing you to watch Spall evolve from a carefree aimless man into a shell of his former self, as he slowly watches everything and everyone slip away from him in just a matter of minutes. He has a child, then she starts to grow up, and in a blink of an eye, she’s grown, and he can feel like he missed all of it. Finally, he’s left alone with his thoughts, and the film resolves itself (No, I won’t spoil it for you).

But in a very It’s A Wonderful Life way, he gets to see what his life would be like without him around, and he directly feels the weight of it. It’s supposed to be a comedy, though it feels less and less so as the movie progresses. It’s a nice film that for one reason or another got lost in a shuffle. Just totally lost.

What Doesn’t Work; As much as I love Rafe Spall, and can acknowledge that this film feels like 200 other films (I’ll come back to that in a minute), I am shocked at how low budget this film ended up being. This script really couldn’t sell to a major or get an A-list actor behind it? It is such a showcase for an actor, such a meaty lead role, I’m literally surprised it ended up with Rafe Spall. Not that he’s bad, but this would be like if everyone kept passing on Chris Nolan’s Batman franchise and you ended up with Donnie Wahlberg as Batman. He’s had some good roles, and would have been fresh off the buzzy Saw franchise, but… is there no one else?

The film is just bigger than Spall, and there’s something oddly frustrating about this being the kind of film that just gets swept under the rug. Sure, Adam Sandler already made this film, but not like this, and not nearly with this tone. Sandler’s Click was always aiming to be a comedy, but it ended up with a somewhat serious element. So I understand how you might feel like this is just Click remade. It’s not.

I feel like Bradley Cooper would have nailed this. He’s charming, would have carried the film, and has the dramatic chops to pull off the long haul and then maybe people would be watching this instead of it just randomly popping up on Netflix. This is a 2021 movie, and I know it didn’t pop up in any theatre near me.

Attaching a male star would have increased the budget allowing for a supporting cast with some name recognition as well.

However, there seems to be this trend in this genre where they have to wink-wink nudge-nudge the audience by directly referencing similar films like that plot they are living in the movie you are watching. Just like in The Map Of Tiny Perfect Things, which feels the need to remind us that our protagonist has seen Groundhog Day, as if that is some kind of textbook on how he’s supposed to live his life, Spall’s character makes the exact same conclusion, with the ‘my life is supposed to be real life, yet since it vaguely resembles a movie I saw, should I then assume that the fictional work is a guidebook on how I can return to my normal life?” We don’t do this in real life.

There’s no one on a cruise ship waiting for a Poseidon like event so they can travel through the carriage of the boat so they can break out of a fan. We’re not turning to Samuel l Jackson’s seminal classic every time a snake is on a plane. No one conjures up their inner Sandra Bullock when the city bus has its brakes go out and the bus cannot stop. And in every single situation listed, if that situation did come about, and someone referenced a movie to be your bible moving forward, you would think that person was an idiot.

So, stop with those stupid moments. It’s OK to reference the existence of other films, but in both this and Tiny Perfect Things, characters actually look to the movie they are referencing for guidance.

The Blind Perspective: No audio description. It is somewhat followable. I could follow it, but it was somewhat of a struggle. I would say, if you are blind or visually impaired, don’t bother.

Final Thoughts: A cute concept that mostly does what it sets out to achieve, yet sadly will be quickly forgotten, because you already had no idea it existed.

Final Grade: B

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