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by Ziyad Saadi
May 2, 2014 5:08 PM
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Here's the 10 Best Films That Take Place Over 24 Hours (And The 5 Worst)

"Dude, Where's My Car?"

The 5 Worst

"Nick of Time" dir. John Badham (1995)

There was a time between his oft-missed indie roles in Tim Burton's earlier work and his very memorable roles in blockbusters like "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Alice in Wonderland" when Johnny Depp did a couple of movies that seem so far beneath him given his potential. "Nick of Time" is the prime example, featuring Depp as an average Joe whose daughter is kidnapped and won't be returned to him unless he kills a state governor. The movie was noted for taking place in real time, but that may be the only noteworthy thing about it. The "High Noon" sense of urgency is lost on the fact that the story is terribly formulaic, presenting lame twists where seemingly innocuous characters turn out to be part of the conspiracy. And what's worse is that this ordinary everyday guy, played by a very un-ordinary Depp, is dull as dirt and fails to become any more interesting throughout the plot, even when he reaches his heroic climax.

"Can't Hardly Wait" dir. Harry Elfont and Deborah Kaplan (1998)
Where "American Graffiti" championed, "Can't Hardly Wait" fell flat on its face. One night of watching a group of teens partying could potentially entertain in the way that so many 80s classics have -- if its plot had any form of meaning or style whatsoever. Unfortunately, this film didn't. Using one cliche after another and presenting an endless number of archetypal and stereotypical characters -- the pretty popular girl, the lovable geek, the jerk jock -- the only thing we can hardly wait for is the moment this movie either ends or becomes self-aware enough to parody itself, as others have done in later years (watch "Not Another Teen Movie" to understand how this movie went wrong). Jennifer Love Hewitt's Amanda is especially annoying, and it somehow seems as though we're expected to feel sorry for her despite how brainy and beautiful -- and unbearable whiny -- she is throughout the whole film.

"Dude, Where's My Car?" dir. Danny Leiner (2000)
Remember when "The Hangover" made its way into theaters and became an instant hit? It may owe a lot of credit to "Dude, Where's My Car?" -- which has virtually the same plot -- in that it seemed to learn the do's and don't's (mostly don't's) of how to make a hangover movie into as much fun as the drunken night that preceded it. In "Dude, Where's My Car?," two idiots (played by none other than Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott) try to figure out where they left their car despite their complete lack of memory of the previous night's events, leading them on a -- and I use this term loosely -- comical journey to find it. As proven by the aforementioned "Hangover," the concept definitely has some entertainment value and the element of relevance (who hasn't gone through exactly the same thing at least once?), but the absurd science-fiction elements in "Dude" and the overabundance of idiocy was more than most people could handle.

"Enter the Void" dir. Gaspar Noe (2009)
The title here speaks really speaks for itself. Gaspar Noe called the film a "psychedelic melodrama," which may be true if "psychedelic" meant headache-inducing and "melodrama" meant downer. The director certainly brings his own filmmaking style to the film, but that inevitably places it into the frustrating category of "all flash, no substance." The story details the out-of-body experience of an American drug dealer living in Tokyo the night he's been shot by the police. What follows is some panoramic cinematography that is supposed to emulate a drug-induced experience and a disturbing (and not in a good way) set of flashbacks of the protagonist in question and his creepy relationship with his sister, which includes a spiritual entry into both her head and her vagina. Naturally.

"Project X" dir. Nima Nourizadeh (2012)
An epic night of fun at a teenager's birthday party where things -- gasp -- begin to spiral out of control. That's the logline for "Project X," a very wild movie that unfortunately glorifies stupidity as much as it likely influences it. The film's ill-fitting camera work is enough to make you scratch your head, but the main problem here is the excess of pretty much every form of self-indulgence you can possibly imagine. It's been described as "Superbad" on crack, when in reality it's more along the lines of "The Wolf of Wall Street" on crack, only without any character development or deft social commentary that leads you to believe this film may actually have a justification for its existence that doesn't force you to roll your eyes.

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  • JBirks | July 23, 2014 4:39 AMReply

    High Noon. Along with Rashomon, this movie practically created the template. And unlike Rashomon, which is a flashback to events three days prior, High Noon showed the passing of time almost minute by minute.

  • NickOfNick | May 7, 2014 3:11 PMReply

    Errrr.....did I miss something?
    Nick of Time plays in real time and the film runs just over 100mins.
    How has it ended up on a list about films that take place over 24 hours?

  • gartiligio | May 5, 2014 9:14 PMReply


  • Brian Boyle | May 5, 2014 3:56 PMReply

    Where is Martin Scorsese's "After Hours"?! That you've neglected to include Scorsese's funniest and most subversive film is a crime against cinema.

  • Gustavo Bernal | May 5, 2014 2:23 PMReply

    Snub on this list the 1995 masterpiece french film from Mathieu Kassovitz "La Haine". I know is 19 consecutive hours, but it worth mention.

  • ME | May 3, 2014 10:43 PMReply

    Yeah, After Hours and Glengary Glenn Ross are better than a lot of these.

  • Jabalong | May 3, 2014 7:08 PMReply

    Best films taking place over 24 hours? my first thought was Dazed and Confused.

    Glad to see by the comments that I wasn't alone.

  • Armak | May 3, 2014 6:03 PMReply

    Provocative article! It's of special interest to me as I'm in post on a film that takes place in a day, LAUNDRY DAY. Our first trailer is out, check it out if you like this kind of film— LaundryDayFilm[dotcom]

  • KMS | May 3, 2014 11:01 AMReply







  • Franco | May 3, 2014 7:40 AMReply

    La HAINE!??!!??!

  • tombeet | May 3, 2014 4:04 AMReply



  • Charlie | May 3, 2014 12:36 AMReply

    Glengary Glen Ross should have been number one.

  • Asif | May 2, 2014 11:49 PMReply

    You make a list of the 10 best films that take place over 24 hours and you don't have After Hours? Pathetic!

  • Michael | May 2, 2014 8:10 PMReply

    No Dazed and Confused?? Also I'm pretty sure that Enter the Void takes place over a pretty long period of time (even though we never leave the main character's perspective, time passes really quickly while he's a ghost).

  • myopinion>youropinion | May 2, 2014 8:10 PMReply

    Funny Games = Good
    Enter The Void = Bad

    F*ck who ever wrote this must have severe autism. Way to not include Margin Call you f*cking idiot

  • You're a jerk | May 3, 2014 7:11 PM

    Nice comment - way to be an asshole!

    Your mother called and says she doesn't want you to kiss her with that mouth anymore.

  • giuliorasi | May 2, 2014 7:32 PMReply

    WHAT?! No After Hours?!

  • arno | May 2, 2014 5:34 PMReply

    After hours #1