American attention spans seem to be getting shorter, thanks to television, the Internet and mobile devices. But movies seem to be getting longer.
Studios frequently give in to directors who want longer versions of their movies released theatrically. The same is true for movies on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, which promote longer unrated and director’s cuts.
But longer doesn’t mean better. Film critic Roger Ebert said, “No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”
But what he doesn’t address is that many good movies could be made even better if they were shorter. Editing can make a good movie great and sometimes make a mediocre movie good.
Twitter users tweet about overlong movies
Lately I’ve been tracking “movies too long” and “movies too short” as search terms on Twitter to gauge sentiment. Twitter users named more than 70 movies as being too long or too short during the last three months.
Unfortunately lots more people said things like “that movie was waaaaay too long” without mentioning the movie’s title. One-sided Twitter conversations are impossible to follow.
Anyway, here’s what I found:
By a wide margin, “The Watchmen” is the movie that the most Twitter users (14 in all) said was too long. The comic book movie clocks in at 163 minutes. The director’s cut is 186 minutes and ultimate cut is 215 minutes.
Tied for second in the “too long” category are “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” at 150 minutes and “Where the Wild Things Are” at 101 minutes. Each got seven mentions.
However, most of the “too long” comments about “Where the Wild Things Are” were about it being too long for kids.
In fourth, with six mentions, is “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” at 153 minutes.
Other movies getting multiple mentions were “Julie and Julia” (123 minutes), “Public Enemies” (140 minutes), “Funny People” (146 minutes and 153 minutes unrated) and “Inglourious Basterds” (153 minutes).
Twitter users say some movies are too short
Tweets about movies being too long far outnumber those about movies being too short.
Movies getting multiple comments on Twitter about being too short included “Paranormal Activity” (86 minutes) and “Zombieland” (88 minutes).
Others referenced as too short included “(500) Days of Summer” (95 minutes), “Taken” (93 minutes) and “Brüno” (81 minutes).
Maybe I should have searched for positive comments about short movies like “short and sweet” or “nice and short.” Because short movies can be a good thing.
Question to Netflix users on the subject
A few months ago, I posted a question on the independent social networking site Movie Fans: A Netflix Community. I started a discussion under the heading, “Movies that could have used some serious editing.”
I wrote, “Have you ever watched a long movie and said, ‘There was a good movie in there, but it needed a major edit to find it’? What are some movies that could be made better with some cuts in their length?”
I got six responses. Two people said “There Will Be Blood” at 158 minutes was too freaking long. Another suggested “Million Dollar Baby” at 133 minutes was too long.
Another member of Movie Fans said the comedy films of Judd Apatow are too long by 30 minutes. “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” is “easily a half hour too long” at its current 133 minutes.
With two young kids to put to bed at night, it’s tough for me to watch a movie that’s over two hours long. I often look at running times on Netflix to select movies. The closer to 90 minutes the better.