• Mon, May 5 - 3:46 pm ET

12 Great Movies That Take Place In 24 Hours Or Less

Breakfast Club dancing

(via)

24: Live Another Day premieres tonight on FOX at 8 PM. If you’re not aware, that’s the new comeback season of the TV series 24. I personally never watched 24, and I don’t plan to start tonight, but I have always found its format — with one season taking place over the course of a single day — to be pretty interesting. And that got me thinking about other stories that get told over the course of one day, particularly movies.

It’s always really impressive to me when a movie can have a great plot with strong character development and tension without going past the 24-hour mark in story time. It can be really hard to make character relationships and conflict work in such a short period of time, but a lot of movies do it. In fact, there are a lot of examples that you might not have even realized used that format because it doesn’t feel like a gimmick. Here are just twelve examples of some really great, memorable films that take place in a single day.

1. The Breakfast Club

Who knew you could fit so much teenage angst into a single day of detention? They simply don’t make movies like this anymore.

2. Gravity

Have you thought about the fact that this movie takes place pretty much in real time? I don’t know if that makes things more or less scary. On the one hand, at least poor Sandra Bullock only had to go through all that for a couple of hours. On the other hand, she went through all that in only a couple of hours?

3. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

It’s kind of a given considering the title that this will take place all in one day, but Ferris manages to do such an unrealistic number of things in that time that it’s easy to forget it. I mean really, a baseball game, a museum trip, and a parade all during school hours?

4. Groundhog Day

Okay, so if you add up all the hours Bill Murray actually experiences in this movie it’ll be much, much more than 24. But technically he’s living the same 24 hours the whole time, so I think it still counts. And gets lot of bonus points for creativity.

5. 12 Angry Men

Here’s a classic for you. If you haven’t seen this movie, get on it. This one goes a step further and takes place not only in one day, but also in one location, which adds to the tension.

6. Die Hard

You can’t waste time going into other days when you’re busy trying to save hostages. And it’s on Christmas, no less!

7. Adventures in Babysitting

Is it just me, or does the whole “takes place in one day” thing seem to be a super ’80s idea? It’s not the first example on this list and it won’t be the last. Then again maybe I’m just really in love with ’80s movies so those are the ones that stand out.

8. Dazed and Confused

Lucky for Matthew McConaughey’s character, high school girls really do stay the same age when the movie only covers one day.

9. The Goonies

Yet another ’80s example. This one is very special. Who wouldn’t want to spend their day looking for hidden treasure with their best friends?

10. Rebel Without a Cause

If you thought The Breakfast Club packed a lot of angst into one day, it’s nothing compared to this classic with James Dean.

11. Fruitvale Station

This film, which didn’t get the attention it deserved this past award season, tell the story of Oscar Grant on the last day of his life before he was shot and killed by a police officer early in the morning on New Year’s Day.

12. Before Sunrise

I’m using this one as the example because it’s the first in the series, but the sequels Before Sunset and Before Midnight also apply here. And what better way to spend a day than wandering around Europe, am I right?

Share This Post:
  • Jenni

    Groundhog Day is one of the few movies I can watch 239809 times a year and not get sick of him.

  • M_G

    One more I would add to this list is “A Single Man” from 2009. SUCH a good (though ultimately devastating) movie.

    • Jill O’Rourke

      YES, that movie’s amazing.

  • TinLizzie

    You forgot High Noon. It was done in real time and it a pretty amazing movie.

  • Lauren Joseph

    How do you not have “Friday” In that top 12?