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Jul 2, 2009

Bang for Your Butt

Tangent One
I'm a bit of amateur stat geek. I pay close attention to the weekend box office results, as evidenced by the summer box office games I've devised and such. I play (and win!) fantasy football every year, much to the disdain of a certain Mrs. Fletch, and I dive into analyzing the prior year's stats every July/August in preparation for the upcoming draft(s). I'm a baseball fan and am familiar, if not an expert, with terms like OPS and VORP. I spend all day in Excel and/or Access.

You get the picture.

Tangent Two
If you've read reviews here for some time, you've probably seen me rant a time or twelve about the length of some films these days. Sam Raimi's insufferable 139-minute Spider-Man 3. Gore Verbinski's 169-minute (!!!) third Pirates of the Carribean movie. Even great films like Paul Thomas Anderson's 158-minute masterpiece There Will Be Blood could stand to have a little fat lopped off the top. In my world, movies should not be shorter than 85 minutes and should not be longer than 120 unless there's a really good reason; if you can't tell your story in two hours (give or take a few minutes), then I just might have a problem with you, and my butt most certainly does.

Tangential Combination
So anyway, sometime over the last few days, someone asked me if I was going to see Public Enemies. "I dunno, probably" was probably my answer; the trailer looks ok and all, but I just had this bad feeling about the Johnny Depp-starring, Michael Mann-directed crime saga.

And then I realized what the problem was. Mann doesn't make bad movies - after all, his 11 features have an average IMDb rating of 7.3, just below Steven Spielberg's 7.4. But damned if his movies aren't long as sh*t, and they seem to have been getting longer as his career's gone on. Have a look:

The Jericho Mile7.597
The Keep5.796
The Last of the Mohicans7.7112
The Insider8.0157
Miami Vice6.0134
Public Enemies8.7140

It should be noted that the score for Public Enemies is artificially high (as most new releases on IMDb are) and will likely be below 8.0 by Monday.

Short story long, what I longed for was a metric that told me whether a movie was worth the toll it took on my butt. Not to say that any movie literally bothers my butt to sit through, but you know what I mean - even during a movie like the aforementioned There Will Be Blood, you'll probably find yourself stealing more than a few glances at your watch, wondering just how close to the end this thing is. Or maybe you're sick of 3-hour movies that all but guarantee a trip to the restroom and some missed plot points.

A large factor in deciding what movies I want to see is who is directing, so I figured this metric would work better if we could look at a director's body of work and assign a figure, in the end deciding whether or not they are a Friend of Your Butt (FYB) or an Enemy of Your Butt (EYB). (Before we proceed, please head over to the gutter, lean over, and pick up your mind from it. Thanks. Jerk.) Then, when director X has a new film that comes out, we can look at his/her Butt Score to help determine whether or not it's worth it to see their film in the theater or to maybe wait for a time when a pause button and/or restroom is but a few paces away. But how to quantify that accurately...

In the end, the best solution is sometimes the simplest. To determine a single film's Butt Score, all you do is take the length (in minutes) and divide it by the IMDb rating. I realize IMDb rating's might not be the best judge of a film's value, but a) it's close enough and b) so long as the same scale is used across the board, the results should keep their integrity (integrity, ha ha). Again, let's use Mann as an example:

MovieRatingLengthButt Score
The Jericho Mile7.59712.93
The Keep5.79616.84
The Last of the Mohicans7.711214.55
The Insider8.015719.63
Miami Vice6.013422.33
Public Enemies8.714016.09

The lower the Butt Score, the better. A great example of this can be seen with The Jericho Mile and The Keep. They clock in at 97 and 96 minutes, respectively (identical), but thanks to a much better rating, Jericho has an impressive 12.93 Butt Score. Of the 69 films I've looked at thus far, the average is 17.37, and only nine were lower than 12.93. Here in the infancy of this metric, the determination of a director's FYB/EYB rating will depend on where their body of work falls in relation to that average score; to do this, I'm taking tossing out their highest and lowest Butt Scores and averaging the rest. Michael Mann, as is turns out, isn't as bad as I might have thought, thanks to the high quality of his work, but the survey says that he is still an Enemy of Your Butt, with a Combined Butt Score of 17.88.

So that's the crux of it. I figure I'll use this brilliant/awful new metric as the springboard for a new feature where I occasionally inform you on the Enemy/Friend status of a topical director. In the meantime, here are a few other bodies of work:

Quentin Tarantino

MovieRatingLengthButt Score
Reservoir Dogs8.49911.79
Death Proof7.39012.33
Kill Bill, Vol. 18.211113.54
Kill Bill, Vol. 28.013617.00
Pulp Fiction8.915417.30
Inglorious Basterds8.314817.83
Jackie Brown7.615420.26

Combined Butt Score: 15.66
Quentin Tarantino is a Friend of Your Butt

Michael Bay

MovieRatingLengthButt Score
Bad Boys6.511818.15
The Rock7.213618.89
The Island6.913619.71
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen6.615022.73
Bad Boys II6.214723.71
Pearl Harbor5.418333.89

Combined Butt Score: 21.58
Michael Bay is a Enemy of Your Butt (which is the least surprising news I've heard all day; Pearl Harbor had the highest Butt Score of any film I looked at...by far. 2nd worst was Armageddon...)

Wes Anderson

MovieRatingLengthButt Score
The Darjeeling Limited7.39112.47
Bottle Rocket7.29112.64
The Royal Tenenbaums7.611014.47
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou7.211916.53

Combined Butt Score: 13.19
Wes Anderson is a Friend of Your Butt (of the six directors I looked at, Anderson had the best CBS. Rushmore placed 4th overall, with Rob Reiner's This is Spinal Tap the clubhouse leader with a scant 10.25 Butt Score. Kudos, Rob Reiner...and irony.)

So...I'm insane, aren't I? Be honest.

18 people have chosen wisely: on "Bang for Your Butt"

Anonymous said...

man when you started talking I thought you had figured out how to calculate nd Actors VORP like I talked about a while back. Instead it was just a long article about your ass.

In case you were wondering Cage's VORP would be high, your boy Travolta, not so much...


BD79 said...

That's actually pretty good, Fletch. Can't really put Basterds in with Tarantino at this point though, no one has seen the finished cut, certainly not the regular movie-going public. That would appear to be a good thing for QT though.

Fletch said...

Thanks for the kind words as usual, Gay. :D I'll work on the VORP thing in the near future...

BD - good point, but I figure neither the length of the finished cut or the rating will be much different from what IMDb currently has. If anything, I'd expect both numbers to fall a bit, which would pretty much negate the changes.

The Mad Hatter said...

I swear I read about a similar statistic in "Moneyball"

(j/k - this is geekiness parlayed into brilliance)

Nick said...

Hm... interesting. This reminded me of a site I saw not too long ago about when the best times during any given movie to go pee in (without missing any vital information) would be.

Rick "The Hat" Bman said...

Well I don't know nothing 'bout no statistics but I think this is a pretty good way to putting a point value on the worth of a movie. Hell, it works as good as any other system out there.

I am also of the believe that with a few exceptions there is no need for a movie to be over 2 hours long. There are very, very few exceptions to this rule though. As you say, even long movies that I enjoy could probably still use a bit of editing.

Reel Whore said...

Thank you for the FYB/EYB. I thank you and my butt thanks you!

A friend of mine sticks firmly to the 90 minute rule, if you can't tell your story in ninety minutes, the quality just starts going down from there, minute by minute. I used to tell him he was crazy and that a two hour movie had it's place, but after having my a$$ numbed by the likes of Terminator Salvation and Transformers this summer, I'm starting to respect his motto.

Nick: I think you're referring to runpee.com. I wrote about it on my site a while back.

Nick said...

Whore: I believe so. I actually think I found it from your blog.

Movies that should be over 2 hours no matter what? Harry Potter. The longer the better.

Reel Whore said...

Nick: You know what I'd love to see after the HP films are finished? A BBC series that would develop the books in detail. I'm thinking Freak and Geeks meets Head of the Class with wands and Quidditch!

Fletch said...

Thanks for the comments, and I'll catch up to the rest later tonight, but I had to quickly reply to this one:

"You know what I'd love to see after the HP films are finished? A BBC series that would develop the books in detail. I'm thinking Freak and Geeks meets Head of the Class with wands and Quidditch!"

Wayne, obviously, you haven't seen any promos for the new NBC (?) show Merlin. It's essentially exactly what you're describing, only with Merlin/Arthur in place of Harry and gang. It screams "taking advantage of HP popularity."

Nick said...

A BBC series would be awesome, except for the poor SFX quality that it would likely have. And let's face it, HP on film is nothing without crazy special effects.

What I heard rumored about years ago, and would be awesome, would be Harry Potter graphic novels... or maybe even a Harry Potter anime. I'd love an HP anime. It wouldn't be worried about the blood, romance, or filler/subplots! 7 seasons total, one season for each book... every season varying in episode count due to size of books. It also wouldn't need to worry about keeping the same actors for 10+ years. And with the right animation style, it would be amazing.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Heh, 69 films.

Sadly, this thing doesn't help me. I've never felt the urge to get up during a movie to take a pee. I've got stamina, baby.

Paul Arrand Rodgers said...

Troll 2 has a butt score of 50.00.

Most unwatchable Cage film: The Wicker Man (29.1)

Most watchable Cage film: Raising Arizona (12.5)

Nic Cage's average score (49 films counted): 17.8

Big Mike Mendez said...


check out this site..

Nick said...

Big Mike: I guess you missed the convo between me and Reel Whore about RunPee?

Reel Whore said...

@Nick- Harry Potter anime would be awesome! But you've got to wonder how stacked would the artists make Hermione, Ginny, Cho Chang, and Tonks in an animated version!!! Guess that's why it'd need to be the right style of animation.

Daniel Getahun said...

Holy crap, this is absolutely genius. The best part is that it takes your own feelings about a director out of the picture. You could also mix it up with RT and MC scores as well.

Fine work, son.

Fletch said...

"(j/k - this is geekiness parlayed into brilliance)"

Thanks, Hatter. I aspire to both.

Nick, et al - yea, runpee is a good site. Sadly, it's not something that I ever check prior to seeing a movie, but I like the general idea of it.

Wayne - thanks! And thanks for your email - I haven't forgotten it and will respond asap (which might still be awhile). But yes, I have some ideas.

Paul - never have you had to leave to pee in the middle of a film? While that wasn't something I thought about when coming up with this (pee breaks), I find that unbelievable. You should win a Guiness world record or something. Have you not seen any 3 hour + flicks like King Kong? I don't see how anyone could get a large drink and make it out of there unscathed...

Oh, and I appreciate all of your research. Glad you're digging it. No shock AT ALL that The Wicker Man is Cage's worst using this scale.

Daniel - perhaps in the future I'll combine it with other scores to get an OPS-like stat. :D Thanks!