When is running time a deterrent?

It seems like an unspoken Hollywood rule to keep certain genre specific films from exceeding a specific run time. It’s no bother to us that a Marvel movie goes over two hours, as much as it wasn’t a surprise Endgame was a whopping 3-hour epic. It’s an end to an anthology, at least a soft end until Disney decides to re-cash in on the sequel scene with follow ups to many hit movies (unfortunately despite a confirmed Black Panther 2, time will tell what presence Chadwick Boseman will have). #RIP and #WakandaForever.

Why do we allow Marvel movies to run so long? Theres a lot of story to tell, arcs to manage and characters to juggle for one. For another the pacing is nice and reliable for most of these flicks, with continuous action, humor and heart. This goes the same for most action films, reliable directors like Spielberg and Tarantino get a pass because of their quality over time and classic status. Even Martin Scorcese can get away with it. People often forget The Wolf of Wall Street (the purest Kino) is three hours in length. Probably due to the fact that the movie is anarchic and crazy, with one scene outdoing the previous.

So where does the line get blurry?

I wrote previously about the Fincher film Zodiac, which pushes over two and a half hours. Part of the reason I bring this up is for the criticism which has mostly been justified as a strength since it’s modes release: the lack of conclusion. The meandering pace is intentional but frustrating, something audience‘s wouldn’t have the patience for until the true crime craze of today allowed us to make our own conclusions and have fun with the mysteries. So do we forgive it? And at what point in our decision making do we justify committing to a lengthy film, no matter the genre? I admit I’ve spent way too long justifying sitting through some of what are now my favorite Criterion releases. Michael Viers of a favorite podcast of mine (The Shamelist Picture Show, check it oit) defends the 3+ hour cut of my favorite movie Betty Blue, which is not a Marvel movie, but more of a psychological erotic thriller. He says that between the theatrical restricted release and the pure release we lose a lot of the true feeling of the characters cutting it down from its lengthy run time.

I’d like to reiterate that I’m not talking about when a movie is too long, because there are justifications for movie cuts, extended releases and what the director intends for how long is appropriate to tell his/her/their story. Where the problem lies is in these unspoken rules. Let’s talk about Funny People. This comedy by Judd Apatow is a return to form for Adam Sandler, a focus on the depressing and sometimes sobering experience of stand up comedy. It’s funny, it’s sweet, its LONG. Clocking in at 2 hours and 33 minutes even the most die hard Apatow fans won’t start to squirm as the movie progresses. Is the movie too long? I won’t discuss that matter but Apatow has a habit of exploring the comedy genre and really taking his time. Because of this habit Apatow sometimes struggles critically and with audience reviews. But maybe we should re approach running time with an open mind? I feel that the modern audience may rely on the 90-minute norm for horror and comedy, but as movie pacing and structure constantly challenges their respective genres, why should we shy away from film risks?

i conclude on the subject of comedy. Action has twists and turns as does horror but I think comedy has a notorious chance of over staying it’s welcome. I can encourage others to be patient and open to longer films outside of the event cinema we can annually expect. I can also try to do better myself! Let’s agree that the director’s intent is what’s important along with the editor’a discretion, and find an extra comfy seat for our own sake.

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