Is It Long Enough?

We often talk about how a movie dragged on and on and on, but it’s rare to hear a discussion of how a movie was too short. And yet, in the past couple of weeks or so, I’ve seen two movies that I’ve concluded were too short.

Not because they ended too soon, but because there needed to be more. Let me explain what I mean with two specific examples.

The first movie I want to talk about is Flushed Away. It’s a fun little film filled with absolutely hilarious jokes that are pretty much non-stop. It’s also only 75 minutes long before the credits roll.

The problem with this film is that it attempts at various points to make the viewer feel emotion. We’re supposed to feel sorry for poor, lonely Roddy when he gets back to his empty house. We’re supposed to cry when Rita’s boat sinks. But both of these story beats are overshadowed almost immediately by throwaway gags.

Those are just two instances out of several where the movie could have used just a little bit of breathing space. And there’s no excuse not to have it! I mean, the movie is barely 75 minutes long! They had 15 minutes to play with before hitting 90, where most animated movies land nowadays. Even just an extra 5 minutes of room to process the emotional beats would have vastly improved the film.

The second movie I want to mention is The Last Airbender. I know, I know. The movie failed on a number of levels, in particular in its complete and blatant disregard for most of what made the original TV series great. Some of that could have been solved by making it longer.

See, the movie spends little or no time on character development, but it has so many characters running around that it needed to. It also skips important parts of the story with a short voiceover.

And yet, the movie was only 90 minutes long, even though it was an adaptation of 7.5 hours of TV series! Oops!

Come on, you’ve got license to add at least an extra half hour to this movie. Two hours would be a more proper length for the story it attempts to tell, and two and a half hours would be even better, considering the length of the material you’re adapting. You could get away with that, too… The show was big enough, both in fanbase and epicness, to merit an abnormally long movie.

Just think what you could do with an extra hour of wiggle-room! Dial in on the characters. Add real scenes to replace the voiceovers. Explain how bending works. And pronounce everybody’s name right into the bargain!

Now, I’m not saying that every movie needs to be longer, but seeing these two movies has gotten me thinking about how some stories do need more space to be told properly. So don’t always assume your script is overly long. Carefully consider the possibility that it may be too short!

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