Most things take too long. I think we can all agree on that. “Why is this thing taking so long? Ugh, I could be doing something else by now, like parasailing or sleeping or sitting around my house in comfortable workout clothes that I have never once worn to work out” you’ve probably said to yourself countless times as the thing you’re doing drags on and on. It’s not okay. Something needs to change. Your time is too valuable for these goons to just be taking it all up like this. We need a rule. A hard limit.
Nothing should last longer than two hours.
Movies are the biggest offender. Movies are just entirely, obscenely too long. We’ve discussed this before but apparently no one listened so we’re going to do it again. Look at the list of top-grossing movies of 2018. Avengers: Infinity War was 160 minutes long. Black Panther was 135. Both of those movies were good but that’s still just too long, especially since every superhero movie is basically the same. “I’m conflicted about my powers. Oh no, a loved one has been killed and/or kidnapped. I must use my powers.” You should be able to tell that story in 100 minutes. The extra 20 is there for padding. Anything more is larceny. Totally out of control. I blame James Cameron for this. Titanic was three hours long and made $2 billion and now everyone thinks it’s okay. Walk Hard is 96 minutes long and that sucker rules. Tighten it up.
Mission: Impossible — Fallout was 146 minutes. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was 130. The Incredibles 2 snuck in at 118 minutes, which is something I would be quicker to congratulate everyone for if the original Toy Story hadn’t clocked in at 81 minutes. (That’s true. Look it up!) This is one of the many reasons I have respect for The Meg. It was a movie about Jason Statham fighting a shark that was bigger than a double-decker bus and the whole thing checked in at 113 minutes. Bingo bango. That’s entertainment.
I’m not an absolutist, though. Sometimes a movie does need and deserve more time to tell a story. We can allow for this. We can set up some sort of democratically elected committee — popular vote, no shenanigans — that studios can appeal to. If they watch the movie and agree that the extra time is warranted, fine. And if they reject it and a studio still doesn’t want to shave the extra minutes down, that’s fine, too. We just fine the studios $1 million for every minute over two hours and donate the proceeds to charity. Ready Player One would have resulted in $20 million in charitable giving. It would have almost made the movie worth it.
(Bloated television shows are another issue for another day. That’s getting out of hand too, with runtimes creeping from 42 minutes into the 60s and 70s. We’ll let it slide for now because it doesn’t violate the two-hour rule, but episodes of Matthew Weiner’s Amazon series The Romanoffs are 90 minutes each, so we do need to keep an eye on this.)
Sports are a problem, too. Baseball games are three hours, easy, sometimes four if the Yankees and Red Sox are playing in primetime and one of the managers decides to go full Galaxy Brain on relief pitchers. Football games are even longer. A normal NFL game averages about three hours and ten minutes. The Super Bowl comes in close to four hours, which is occasionally made tolerable by a decent halftime show to break it up. But Prince is gone and Beyoncé can’t do it every year (although we should check), so that’s not something we can rely on.
I don’t really have solutions for either of these. The best I’ve got for baseball is “eliminate the break between half innings, they don’t need all that time to warm up, football players run onto the field after a turnover and just start playing,” but heaven forbid you change a single thing about baseball. I can hear aging sportswriters groaning about it from here and I have my doors and windows closed. Whatever. Not my problem. Just fix it. Two hours. We make allowances for overtime and extra innings but that’s it.
(This would also solve the time zone problem, where playoff games start at 8:30 p.m. ET and don’t end until the wee hours of the morning. Now they’re over by 10:30. You can still knock out a non-bloated episode of television before bed if you want.)
Soccer and the NBA get it right, man. A soccer match is over in two hours flat. A non-playoff NBA game averages about 135 minutes even with 20 timeouts and stoppages in the last 90 seconds of game time. We can shave those pesky 15 minutes off, easy. This is why these sports are booming right now. Probably. I have, admittedly, done no research on this but I feel it to be true and that’s what’s important here.
It’s not just movies and sports, either. Everything should be less than two hours. Parties, transatlantic flights (bring back the Concorde and make it faster!), weddings. Especially weddings. Have the ceremony in the reception hall, eat dinner, play an hour of all-ages music to dance to, then call it a night. Run that sucker with military efficiency. Aunt Gladys is still eating her chicken? Get a doggy bag, Gladys! The DJ is playing Stevie Wonder and it’s time to clear the plates. The only minor objection here is that a two-hour wedding is kind of a bummer if there’s an open bar. But even then, that’s probably a good thing. At some point, you need to start paying for your drinks just as a check against bad behavior. “Yes, I’d like to be more drunk. But do I want to spend $8?” You do not. Go home. It’s already getting late.
I could go on but I’ve now been working on this post for 117 minutes and I can’t let myself be a hypocrite on this. I don’t even have time to proofread. So if you see any mistakes, blame my editor. Rules are rules. I’m trying to make a better society here for all of us.