Thursday, January 21, 2010

Running times

Invictus opens in Australia today and I was all geared up to go see it until I saw the running time, listed variously at between 133 to 144 minutes. Stopped me cold.

Why? Over 2 hours to tell a story about a Rugby World Cup even with the presence of Nelson Mandela and the impact on South Africa seems excessive. I know it will be 30 minutes too long and I'll be struggling. And there is nothing worse than being held captive in a dark, cavernous place surrounded by strangers with no prospect of early release. You have to sit the damn thing out.

That's why movie running times are important to me. I will not see a comedy that is over 1 hour 40 minutes. Simply won't do it. These 2 hour plus comedies are bloated beyond belief and there's no comedic premise that needs that amount of time ie it is bad storytelling.

For dramas, two hours is about right unless it is an epic. As in, there better damn well be trolls and wizards or a thousand extras having at it like the dogs of war if it's way over the 2 hour mark. Not a cute mouse. Yes, I'm talking to you Mister Darabont.

The trend, the last few years, seems to be that movies are getting longer. But my body clock (or is it my storytelling clock?) tells me they are, on average, twenty minutes over long. Maybe I have a shorter than usual attention span, but why are film-makers consistently dragging things out?

On the flip side, a lot of Australian movies seem to struggle to make even 90 minutes. Anything under that makes me equally nervous. Usually concerns about the absence of a third act.

What are your thoughts on running times? Do you factor it in when choosing what movie to go see?

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