Here’s a statement you can put on my gravestone: All movies should be 90 minutes or less.
One of my beliefs as a person who watches movies like I’m being paid to (I’m not) and pretends like I went to film school (I DEFINITELY didn’t) is that all movies should be under 2 hours. Specifically, I like a movie that hits that 1 hour and 30 mark, the sweet spot for my attention span. After sitting through 14 hours long Lord of The Rings Extended Edition binges in high school and trying to watch all of the Star Wars movies in chronological order in one sitting and failing around 15 minutes into Episode 3, I prefer a movie that is neatly packaged in a small time frame. This is also the perfect amount of procrastination time to clear your head while writing a paper or studying for finals. The above statement is not proven scientifically, but let’s pretend it is for a minute and take a journey with me through a list of movies that fit into neat, tiny sub 90 minute time frames.
1. The Lion King
For my first choice, I picked something for everyone. Growing up, the songs from this were memorized by yours truly to the point where my parents were begging Disney to come up with something else so I’d stop screaming “WHEN I WAS A YOUNG WARTHOG!!!” during road trips. It’s a classic story we all know and something easy, that at 89 minutes, is the absolute perfect movie for this list.
2. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Another Disney movie, this one just as catchy but 100x weirder. That’s thanks to Tim Burton, a genius madman who can somehow make a plot as unfriendly as this into something for kids and the kid at heart. If you haven’t seen this movie about nightmare creatures trying to sabotage Christmas and turn it into Second Halloween, what the heck’s wrong with you? Whether this is your first time or your 100th time watching this movie, you’ll be singing the Oogie Boogie song through Winter Break. At 76 minutes, it’s also one the easiest movies to finish on this list.
3. Safety Not Guaranteed
Let’s change direction into something a little more live action, shall we? This movie, based on a real classified ad looking for a partner to travel in time with, is the kind of incredibly original work we rarely get to see nowadays. It’s at once really funny and heartwarming, and Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson show you just how good they are, even if they both essentially play variations on their most famous TV roles. 86 Minutes long.
4. Run Lola Run
This movie is so much fun and is bound to get your blood pumping, I couldn’t get enough of it. The plot, in as little detail as possible, is this: A woman has 20 minutes to raise $100,000 after her boyfriend gets into trouble with the wrong people. It’s surreal and nonstop, and one of the first movies in our generation to do the choose-your-own-adventure style of filmmaking. The movie is only 81 minutes long because it’s the same scene done 3 ways, with the main character taking a different turn each time and changing the events and whether she succeeds in her mission. It’s one of my favorite adrenaline-boosting action movies and an iconic film that you won’t regret watching.
5. Toy Story
Another slice of nostalgia pie courtesy of Disney Pixar for easy watching. I really don’t think much needs to be said about this one, besides it being a massive part of the childhoods of kids all over the country, and making me personally look at my Legos with mild suspicion for a little while. 81 Minutes.
6. Attack The Block
This is one of my favorite genre mash-up movies, from the guys that made that incredibly popular 10 years ago. It’s an action sci-fi comedy by the creators of “Shaun of The Dead”, an iconic zombie horror comedy from the early 2000’s that I still watch every Halloween. The plot: A group of teens living in a housing project in South London try to defend their home and themselves from an alien invasion. This was the first major film for John Boyega, now starring as Finn in the new Star Wars trilogy. It’s a really fun movie that I recommend constantly. 88 Minutes.
Found-Footage movies have come in and out of popularity so quickly that I think I got whiplash, but this is one of the rare gems of that subgenre. It’s also a superhero movie, but with a fresher plot and an easier to consume run time. Three friends gain special abilities from a mysterious object; they realize their power and things go awry. The story keeps the scope small and the focus to these three guys and how they change and their friendship changes when the ability to fly becomes involved. 83 Minutes.
This is the only documentary on this list, and I think for good reason. At 84 minutes, it’s a taut and incredibly powerful thriller about whale captivity and what one corporation will do for their bottom line. The movie focuses on Tilikum, a massive Orca that came unhinged during captivity. After publicly killing a popular and well-regarded Sea World trainer during a show, the long-simmering discussion of whether Orca captivity should be illegal is brought into the spotlight, airing Sea World’s dirty laundry at the same time. I’ve never been so heated during a movie ever, your blood will boil and you may break something, but make sure it’s something you don’t like. Like a souvenir from Sea World.
I couldn’t resist this one. It’s a relatively traditional slasher movie until things take a turn halfway through .The plot, to give as little away as possible: 10 people are stranded at a motel in the middle of the desert during a terrible storm and begin to die off one-by-one. It’s a fun, kind of gory bit of theater with a few ridiculous I-should’ve-seen-that-coming twists. At 90 minutes long, it’s also the longest movie on this list.
10. The Shallows
I love Shark movies. I grew up watching “Jaws” with my family and trying to scare other people at the beach, I don’t miss Shark Week for anything, I’ve seen all the Sharknado movies, and if there’s a shark involved in any movie you can COUNT. ME. IN. But I digress, this is a solid movie in the genre. Blake Lively is GREAT, which are words I never thought I’d write or say aloud. She acts the hell out of a premise that is like “Deep Blue Sea” meets “Cast Away”. Nancy (Blake Lively) is attacked by an incredibly smart Great White while surfing at a beach in Mexico. Needless to say, you’ll have to suspend disbelief to get through it, but it’s so suspenseful and tightly edited that at no point in its 86 minutes will you just want Blake to just get eaten already.
Movies like this one and all of the ones above only work if they’re brief. There’s no room for subplots or digressions. They tell their story, things happen, and they release you without wasting your time. And the most important thing: you get to take a nice bite-size break from studying or writing that paper that won’t kill your GPA like an unfortunately timed binge watch of Grey’s Anatomy will.
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