James Leroy Wilson's blog

Sunday, February 17, 2013

An Underrated Criterion For Movie Quality: Length

Two movies I recently watched were Our Idiot Brother and John Carter.

I found both quite enjoyable. And one reason is that neither were overly-long.

Our Idiot Brother is the flipside of a comedy of wild misunderstandings -- it's about what transpires when there's frank, but not malicious, honesty. It's not a classic, but it's well-written and performed. Yet here's the thing...

After 90 minutes I was done with these characters. Didn't want to see another scene. Actually, early on (I was watching on a movie channel) I checked to see how long it was, and it was 90 minutes. That's the only reason I kept watching. There's only so much of a family comedy-drama one can take, and 90 minutes is about it for me. One reason I think  it's good is that it gets it points across, has enough funny scenes, and resolves everything without extraneous scenes.

John Carter is, in many ways to me, a much more interesting movie. Regrettably, its reputation as a box office flop suggests to people that it sucks, which it doesn't. When I saw it was coming on, I instantly checked to see how long it was going to be. The next program on that channel was going to be in 2:15.  That seemed reasonable to me for an epic adventure flick. Over 2:30 would have been a deal-breaker.

That movie, based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs novel that predates most science fiction, is interesting in that one wonders how much everything Hollywood has done is a rip-off of Burroughs's source material, and how much the movie adaptation is itself a rip-off of everything else Hollywood has ever done.As I have some fascination with ideas like stargate portals and their possible role in ancient myths and modern mysteries, this movie was particularly interesting to me. But to everyone else, it should be an entertaining adventure in which one species figures out gunpowder and hallucinogens, and another species figures out flight, and the human has the superhero power. That's outside-the-box for adventure films, and for that alone may be worth watching.

In any case, John Carter doesn't drag. It's efficient in its storytelling. As is Our Idiot Brother.

I think that's an underrated quality for a movie. Had either had gone longer, I'd either think less of them, or may have not watched at all.

Instead, I recommend both.        

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