Although its running time of 148 minutes isn’t too extravagant by modern blockbuster standards (it's shorter than The Dark Knight, Transformers 2, and Avatar), Inception is still a long movie. What’s worse, it’s packed so densely with plot development, crucial expository minutiae, and clues as to What It All Means that you may be afraid to take a bathroom break during the movie. Fear not, because we can now give you the precise moment when you should head out to the john. MINOR SPOILERS ahead.
It won’t be easy, but it can be done. At almost exactly an hour into the film, right after Ellen Page’s Ariadne demands that she come with Cobb (Leonardo Di Caprio) and his crew on their flight from Sydney to Los Angeles, you’ll see Cobb say, “Get us another seat on the plane.” After that, as our heroes and their mark, Robert Fischer Jr. (Cillian Murphy), board the 747 that will transport them, you basically have your chance. It better not be No. 2, though, as you’ve only got about three minutes.
The scenes that you miss are not devoid of interest, however. Much of them concern Cobb’s quick attempt to befriend Fischer on the plane, and his spiking of Fischer’s drink. Then, after they’ve all fallen asleep, we see the stewardess pull out the big shared-dream-machine thingamabob (which we’ve already seen) and plug them all in. Basically, it’s a lot of process, necessary to some degree for our suspension of disbelief, but nothing you can't live without. (Really, if at this point you’re going to ask, “Hey, how did they all wind up in the same dream together?” you probably weren’t paying much attention in the first place.)
Hurry up, though, to get back before they arrive in the rainy city, which constitutes the first level of their collective dream. If by the time you return a freight train has already torn down the middle of a busy urban street, you may want to consider easing up on the fluids next time you see a Christopher Nolan movie.
Let’s say that you miss this first break opportunity. Believe it or not, you’ll get another chance, albeit a shorter one, at an hour and 26 minutes into the movie. Basically, it’s during what is known as the “Mr. Charles” scene. When Cobb tells Fischer, “My name is Mr. Charles. You remember me, don’t you?” you’ve got about two minutes to get your business done. What you’ll miss is a lot of fake exposition in which Cobb tries to convince Fischer that he’s on his side. You may also miss a totally demure kiss between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page, but, well, you weren’t going to get aroused with a full bladder anyway.