The Hunger Games (PG, 2 hours, 4 minutes): I’ve stopped telling my friends that I’m excited about seeing an upcoming movie. Here’s how it usually goes down:
Me: “Saw a preview for the new Jackass movie. Can’t wait to see it.”
Friends: “I know, right? You should read the book. The book is better.”
Book? Read? The reason I’m seeing a movie is because I don’t want to read. Who has time to read books what with Facebook and DVRs keeping us informed? If anything, I’d prefer to read the script or a Wikipedia entry on the movie I’m about to see. Sheesh.
So, as I’m watching The Hunger Games, I’m beginning to wonder whether I would have saved time by reading Suzanne Collin’s 374-page novel by the same name. I bet I could have knocked out 374 pages in 124 minutes, but now I’m just bragging.
I can see why this yarn goes on for more than two hours (even the official trailer is more than four minutes long). The plot isn’t that complex, but it involves concentration: In a dystopian post-apocalyptic future in the nation of Panem — which parts of it look a lot like North Carolina — reality TV has evolved into people killing one another for entertainment. It’s as intense as any Big Brother episode.
The storyline mostly feeds off a couple of good-looking kids, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who end up digging each other during the competition.
Like Big Brother, it has way too many characters. You’ve got Lenny Kravitz (Cinna) and Donald Southerland (President Snow). You’ve got a boozy Woody Harrellson (Haymitch Abernathya), jabberjays, tracker jackers, wolf mutts, rose-scented reptiles, monkey mutts.
That’s a lot to track. Imagine trying to keep up that kind of detail in a book. No thank you.
BEST TIME FOR A BATHROOM BREAK: According to RunPee.com, it’s 47 minutes into the movie, when Woody Harrellson blurts out: “Loosen your corset and have a drink.” Easy clue.
TAKE THE KIDS: Of course. Sure, some kids get bludgeoned, but you don’t see it actually happen. On the upside, it lessens the confusion … fewer characters to keep up with.
DATE MOVIE? If nothing else, you need someone riding shotgun to keep up with the plot if you have to get concession refills and/or take a bathroom break.
Happy Hunger Games!