Ray takes a liking to a recliner seat at a yard sale, but soon he discovers the piece of furniture — banished eventually by his pregnant wife to the garage — is actually a time machine.
But this time machine can only go back in time by one minute. Ray exploits his feature as much as possible, helping him bet on races and drink more beer, much to his wife’s exasperation.
But at one crucial moment, his time machine offers him a do-over at an important point in his life. But it has unforeseen consequences, putting him face-to-face with his choices — and giving him a second chance in an unexpected way.
Writer-director Dave Redman’s clever comedy has a fun, quirky conceit at its center, which it explores with great wit and cleverness. Starting with its lean, focused script and nimble editing, the film bubbles along in its first half, its pacing matching Ray’s blithe enjoyment of his time machine — but also to the exclusion of everything else, like preparing for a new baby.
His wife becomes increasingly concerned and frustrated, which leads to a turning point in their relationship and a difficult truth to face. But it’s also the impetus for Ray to face himself, change his ways and then, with the help of his time machine, take action to rectify his mistakes.
With the movement of the film’s emotional arc, the film takes a surprising turn near its second half, as Ray comes face-to-face with his behavior and its effects on others. The style shifts into more of a high-stakes drama with surprisingly propulsive action, complete with pulse-pounding score and dynamic camerawork.
What blends the two halves of the film are the effective performances and their consistent characterization, which are played for subtlety and realism instead of screwball antics. Ray’s reaction to his discovery of a time machine is both disbelief and delight, but it’s played as if on the same continuum as any other “man cave” escape, like playing an immersive new video game.
Equating the time machine as just another giant toy for Ray to play with and underplaying its powers offers many laughs. But the central motif of the film begins to shift in meaning along with Ray’s character arc, leading to a genuine shift in his development that feels logical and consistent within the film’s parameters.
“Lazy Boy” is a double entendre of a title, and the short has plenty of laughs and fun with its exploration of time travel, along with its portrait of oblivion in the face of life-altering change. But it’s also a surprisingly serious examination of what it means to grow up, embrace responsibility and even become a father who must learn to put others before himself.
It’s a rare comedy that, in fact, begs to be a little longer, with just a bit more time for Ray to internalize his insight and take final action. As it is, “Lazy Boy” points out — in a hilariously literal fashion — that sometimes it takes just one minute to reset our words and actions, and take responsibility for the life we’re creating today.