A couple of days back, Paramount released a new trailer and made a pair of announcements about Martin Scorsese’s new film, The Wolf of Wall Street. First, as rumored, it is not going to make its original mid-November release date; instead, it has been pushed back to Christmas Day, bumping the studio’s previously-earmarked Christmas release, Kenneth Branagh’s Jack Ryan reboot, into 2014. And since one of the supposed reasons for that push-back was the time Scorsese had spent wrestling with a rough cut clocking in anywhere from three to four hours, they went ahead and announced the picture’s running time: 165 minutes, or two and three-quarter hours.
Weirdly, there has been an exorbitant amount of pushback to this information on Twitter and throughout what stodgy media folks call “the blogosphere,” with hordes of supposed film fans passing a pre-emptive judgment that 165 minutes is just too damn long for a movie, no matter if it’s helmed by Martin Scorsese or Raja Gosnell. (Look him up!)
Never mind that we’re talking about one of our generation’s greatest living filmmakers — and one whose films, regardless of length, are fast-paced and jazzy and seldom feel “long” (Age of Innocence notwithstanding). Never mind the fact that last fall saw the release of several great movies (Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Django Unchained) clocking in at right around the same length. Never mind that, as The Dissolve ’s Matt Singer points out, “Martin Scorsese made a long movie because Martin Scorsese always makes long movies.” The Wolf of Wall Street’s running time places it just about squarely between Goodfellas’ 146 minutes and Casino’s 178, so CUT THE GUY SOME SLACK WHY DON’T YOU HE’S EARNED IT.
And finally, never mind the fact that the accompanying trailer looks terrific and 165 minutes of this is just fine by me:
This bitching and moaning over “long movies,” which seems to crop up anew every year around this time, has always befuddled your humble film editor. It is, after all, a movie. It’s not a trip to the DMV; it’s not a root canal. When a movie works, frankly, I wish it’d go on longer — the idea that a plus-sized movie is some sort of chore to be sat out is utterly bewildering, especially in a season when people are willing to plop themselves down in front of a television every weekend for three-plus hours to watch football.
Roger Ebert wrote: “No good movie is too long. No bad movie is short enough.” (Forgive me for quoting Ebert two days in a row, but the film world is a confusing place where his wisdom is always welcome.) Maybe The Wolf of Wall Street is a bad movie. How about we wait and see?