The following is a message to filmmakers: not every film needs to be arse-numbingly long. Don't be so fucking precious. Learn to edit, and have the integrity to trim some of your crap. The most recent offender is Zack Snyder's much-awaited Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The theatrical version alone is a shade over two and a half hours long. The upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release adds another half an hour to that already-lumbering runtime.
I'm part of the apparent minority who enjoyed the film, but even as somebody who's been wanting to see Batman cave Superman's face in on the silver screen for years, I found myself nodding off midway through, even in an IMAX screen with sound levels approaching those of a Motörhead gig. The last time I found myself napping in the cinema was during 2000's George Clooney crap-a-rama The Perfect Storm. During the titular storm. Not a good sign, Mr Snyder.
|C. Montgomery Burns there, struggling to stay awake during|
Jesse Eisenberg's excruciating performance as "Lex Luthor"
Excessive length is a problem with a lot of movies these days, even children's movies, but the most noticeable offenders seem to be adult comedies from the last ten to fifteen years. Superbad, for example, at 113 minutes, is only five minutes shorter than the classic labyrinthine thriller The Silence of the Lambs. I actually enjoy Superbad, but why the hell anybody needs nearly two full hours to tell a story about two dorks trying to get laid is beyond me. And even as a fan of the movie, I stop laughing after that 90-minute mark. Anything over that is just too goddamned long for a comedy.
David and Jerry Zucker's pant-pissingly funny disaster spoof Airplane! is the standard for comedy as far as I'm concerned, and that's a mere 88 minutes long. If you think you're funnier than Airplane!, then not only are you wrong, but by Lemmy you'd better be able to fit a near-equal amount of gags into that amount of time. Good ones. Mel Brooks' racism-punching western parody Blazing Saddles is 95 minutes long, and there's about eight seconds of it that aren't so funny you'll rupture your spleen.
|"In the future, comedies will be two hours long? Surely you can't be serious."|
"I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."
Anyway, the point of this seminar is: filmmakers of every genre need to reel it in. You're not Francis Ford Coppola, and your film isn't Apocalypse Now. Make long films if the subject matter or the actors merit it: parts one and two of The Godfather, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, anything with Daniel Day-Lewis. But I'm so fucking tired of having to give up entire nights if I want to watch a regular film. That pointless Judd Apatow piece of shit Knocked Up is ten minutes longer than the final cut of Ridley Scott's existential sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner, for fuck's sake. Bridesmaids, Paul Feig's gender-swap of brainless bro-down The Hangover, is twenty minutes longer than The Terminator. Do these people have to release every frame they film?
Honestly, I blame Judd Apatow for this shit. Fine, let your actors improvise. But don't cave to their egos and include every last gag they tell. Not even George Carlin hit the mark every time—I never personally cared for his "The kind of fart whereby the Centers for Disease Control declares your pants a level five biohazard" crack; seems too lowbrow for me.
The unrated cut of Judd Apatow's The 40-Year Old Virgin is only ten minutes shorter than Stanley Kubrick's nightmarish Stephen King adaptation The Shining. Why? A pointless, excruciating song-and-dance number. Kubrick, the legendary auteur, extended his film's runtime with eerie silences and lingering, unsettling shots of what has come to be known as the Kubrick Stare.
|Top: absolutely vital|
Bottom: completely and utterly pointless
Judd Apatow, meanwhile, decided that none of us could do without a nipple-hardeningly embarrassing performance of a song from the hippie musical Hair, performed by some of the most irritating leading lights of 21st century American comedy. In addition to cutting some of the improv, you may decrease your film's runtime by not being so fucking arrogant as to think we care about your secret wish to be Busby Berkeley.
This has gotten off-track. As the aforementioned George Carlin said, I have no ending for this, so I take a small bow.