do you need a website to take bathroom breaks?

Should I stay or should I go? That’s the longstanding question facing moviegoers watching exceptionally long films—Benjamin Button springs to mind. But you don’t want to miss a crucial plot twist, joke, or action scene. That’s where aims to help.

RunPee is the brainchild of Dan and Jill Florio. The couple attends new movie releases and suggests times to run to the bathroom on the website. The idea is that these three-minute breaks are specially timed so you won’t miss anything crucial in the film. They even offer an iPhone app that will subtly vibrate at appropriate times to leave the theater. I decided to see whether I agreed with the “pee times” by checking the suggested times for two films I saw recently.

Sherlock Holmes
At 128 minutes, this is a relatively long film. RunPee suggests four times to for bathroom breaks, at 37, 48, 66, and 87 minutes. At 37 minutes, RunPee suggests a break during a scene where Holmes and Watson discover that Blackwood’s corpse is missing. That’s pretty crucial to the film and shouldn’t be missed. Leaving during the second suggested time means missing a lengthy fight scene. It’s a reasonable part to miss because the fight doesn’t add anything to the plot, and the violence is cartoony and overblown. Likewise, the break 66 minutes into the film simply skips a slow-moving murder scene that isn’t very important to story. The final break, however, is a terrible time to leave the theater. RunPee suggests leaving just before a contrived montage in which Holmes reviews clues he’s seen—which explains the entire crux of the movie! I definitely wouldn’t suggest leaving during this part except for a true emergency.

It’s Complicated
The plot is not, actually, hugely complicated, and romantic comedies are known for having plenty of fluff and downtime. RunPee suggests breaks 40, 63, and 85 minutes into the film. In my opinion, the first two suggested breaks are poorly timed. Leaving for the first break means missing several clues revealing Meryl Streep’s feelings toward her new affair, while skipping out at 63 minutes means you’ll never understand Alec Baldwin’s character’s motivations. Nor will you understand why both of Streep’s lovers are subsequently so disappointed. The final break simply skips a silly montage about cooking, so it’s a decent time to sneak out of the theater. But leaving during the first two would undoubtedly be a mistake.

The verdict
I’m not convinced about RunPee’s virtues. For one, the site’s a little off-putting, with a yellow color theme and links to things like “Bladder Issues and Health.”

The idea is definitely sound, but I don’t think the break times are well chosen. While they try to avoid missing essential scenes, not everyone will agree with judgements about which scenes are worth skipping. Aside from really, really long films, you might do just as well to skip the soft drink and “hold it.” Reviewed by Jake.

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