The British TV comedy “Spaced” had a recurring bit where Simon Pegg would half-apologetically remind his chatty friend to hurry up her story: “Skip to the end?” The same urge came to mind while watching the Australian romantic comedy “Long Story Short,” which is like a recurring bit at feature length.
It’s a what-if story: Teddy (Rafe Spall), a workaholic, gets cursed with previewing how his life will turn out, one year at a time. The fast-forwarding starts after his wedding night. He wakes up to find his wife, Leanne (Zahra Newman), pregnant and their house fully furnished. Baffled, he asks surprised questions and gets surprised responses. Soon he’s leaping to another year, and another, and another. The baby becomes a toddler; Leanne’s frustrations with Teddy worsen; separation, an old flame, and a robust bearded period for Teddy follow.
Spall summons a kind of early Ryan Reynolds haplessness, talking a mile a minute while catching up. But a sheepish pall steadily creeps over the whole endeavor (written and directed by Josh Lawson, who’s also in the movie), and it doesn’t help that the wanly drawn Leanne could use her own movie to snap out of her own character’s malaise independently.
The dangers of going through life on autopilot are clear early on, though the movie gives Teddy’s buddy Sam (Ronny Chieng) cancer to drive the lesson home. It’s a bit of a torturous premise for Teddy — one long I-told-you-so — and even though Lawson shows mercy by the end, I began to wish the bliss of total day-to-day oblivion for the guy.
Long Story Short
Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.
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