We've seen it all before: a twist on 'Groundhog Day'. There have been all different kinds of takes on it - 'Palm Springs', the 'Happy Death Day' franchise, 'Edge of Tomorrow', 'Before I Fall' - the list goes on and on. 'Long Story Short' attempts to be Australia's version of the trope.
'Long Story Short' starts with Teddy (Rafe Spall, 'Life Of Pi', 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom') accidentally kissing the wrong girl, Leane (Zahra Newman), at a New Year's Eve party. This starts a romance, and after "years" of putting it off the pair get married, however falling asleep on his wedding night, Teddy ends up waking up a year later. Every few moments, a whole year goes by for Teddy - but will he learn to appreciate the time he's got, or will it continue to pass him by?
While "man has to learn a lesson and take the time to appreciate what's in front of him" is a fine story basis - it's not my favourite, not at all, but it's a fine starting point. However, that can't be the entire story; that's just lazy. 'Long Story Short' isn't anything new - as soon as the time-jumping starts, you know what Teddy is going to learn and you're just waiting for the film to catch up. While its lead couple boast decent chemistry and there are some funny lines, it's not enough to make this a worthwhile endeavour.
My other problem is there isn't really any set up to Ted's "time" issues. The film opens with him kissing the wrong girl, cut to an honestly fantastic opening animated titles, then a short scene with "weird magical lady" with clichéd lines like "blink and you'll miss it" and "take the time," then it's the wedding and the time loop starts. If you're trying to have this message about a man learning he has issues with time - show that, don't tell. We are told continuously Ted missed this, Ted puts things off, Ted won't quit that job. And sorry to be pessimistic, but sometimes you can't just quit that job; people got bills to pay, sometimes you have to wait, sometimes you can't get married tomorrow. I just think it's a silly way to think.
As soon as the time-jumping starts, you know what Teddy is going to learn and you're just waiting for the film to catch up.
The film also muddles its message - it both wants to be "slow down and take the time" and "don't waste a second", yet the ending is Ted basically spitting out everything he learns and rushing into everything, but I don't see rushing as a better trait to have.
The film also has no fun with the time-jump. We get jokes about how fat Ted has gotten or that he's going grey, but they don't apply any makeup to Rafe Spall; he looks the same the whole time. There's one point where they put a fake beard on him, and another where he wears glasses, but it was strange having characters reference, say, weight gain when we see him looking the same. There are also issues with the time span. The movie goes through 10 years of their life but the dialogue makes it sound like it's been decades. Even with the period between their first kiss and their wedding, they talk about it like years have passed, but with no change to appearance.
'Long Story Short' is a mediocre 90-minute rom-com to waste your time on this Valentine's Day, but don't get too fixated on its muddled message. While the leads are charming and it has a few laughs, I think they needed more time with this one.