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Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

OPINIONMediaApril 16, 2022

Hear me out: All movies should be 98 minutes long

Image: Archi Banal
Image: Archi Banal

Anything over 100 minutes should come with a free sheet mask, writes Alex Casey. 

A few weeks ago, I went to see cursed Armie Hammer vehicle Death on the Nile with a group of friends. One of my movie-loving associates fell asleep almost immediately, but still generously offered his review in the aftermath: “Not my usual type of movie,” he mused, “but a good way to pass four hours on a Sunday.” Death on the Nile is two hours and two minutes long.

Just days later I found myself at a screening of the extraordinary, hilarious, mind-bending, universe-jumping Everything Everywhere All At Once. Roughly 2/3 of the way through the 2 hour 20 minute duration, the movie appears to finish, credits flashing onto the screen. It didn’t really make sense for it to end at that point, but my lizard brain got the better of me. I began shuffling my cardigan on and rustling about with my bag of tupperware, preparing to leave. 

Of course, the lights did not come on because the movie was not even remotely finished. It was a meta fakey moment and I was punked. My partner shook his head silently as I stiffened back in my chair. I stoically kept the cardigan on for the rest of the film.

Me trying to count how many minutes of the movie are left

In my defence, our perception of time is melting around us thanks to the pandemic. We don’t know how to enjoy our free time anymore, and the countdown to climate catastrophe is the only duration actually worth worrying about. All of this, I firmly believe, has resulted in every movie that is over 98 minutes long feeling like it is three thousand years long. Sorry to this man (Judd Apatow), but we’re too tuckered for those long TikTok dance sequences in The Bubble. 

For years I have chased and relished the 98 minute movie. It’s cleared the 90 minute mark, making it officially longer than a network episode of Married at First Sight and therefore scientifically a “movie”, but it is also restrained enough to call things off before the hullabaloo of the big 100. Ninety-eight minutes is keeping some of your dinner for lunch the next day. Ninety-eight minutes is leaving the party after the second drink. Ninety-eight minutes is a state of unparalleled perfection. 

The 98 minute movie also doesn’t phunk with your dinner plans. Because, when a movie yawns near the three hour mark (looking at you, The Batman) when are you supposed to eat? If you have to wolf down a meal before the 6pm session, you’ll be eating the stuffing from the cinema seats by the time the credits roll. If you decide to wait until after the film, you won’t be able to enjoy your meal because you will have sadly died in said seat of starvation. 

(A note on brevity: based on my algebraic equations, Robert Pattinson’s The Batman is 76 minutes too long but, curiously, this Robert Pattinson perfume film is 97 minutes and 15 seconds too short. I’ll let you mull over the intricacies of that in your own time.)

Me hiding my eye bags the day after seeing The Batman

There are also bedtimes to consider. My body has been producing less and less collagen for 10 years now, and no sickly-sweet powder promoted by a shiny woman with porcelain teeth is going to change that. I operate on the understanding that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth its weight in Goop. If you want me to wait for a post-credits scene after Avengers: End Game (3 hours, 2 minutes), I’m going to need a hydrating sheet mask with my popcorn. 

This is all to say that if you’ve got time off this Easter, I highly recommend teeing up some tidy wee 90 minute numbers to enjoy. Before the 12 Angry Men of Film Twitter start cracking their knuckles, consider this: 12 Angry Men is 96 minutes long. Consider Carrie (98 minutes), consider Stand By Me (84 minutes), consider Reservoir Dogs (99 Minutes). Consider This is Spinal Tap (84 minutes), consider The Neverending Story (94 minutes). Consider Halloween (91 minutes), consider Inside Out (95 minutes). 

There’s plenty of lists out there to help you find some great movies that you don’t need to pack crampons and a One Square Meal to get through. You’ve got 96 hours, aka 5760 minutes, aka 58.7 different 98 minute films ahead of you this weekend, Aotearoa. Don’t fuck it up. 

Keep going!