Reviews: Ben And Arthur

The Room, get ready to meet your gay challenge

The Room was noted for being terrible in every way. Bad acting (for the most part), terrible writing, terrible acting from the lead character, and whose writer, producer, director and lead actor were all the same person - the ambiguously autistic (there's no way he could possibly not be on the spectrum) Eastern European immigrant Tommy Wiseau.

Sam Mraovich is the writer, producer, musician, director and lead actor of Ben and Arthur. Unlike Mr. Wiseau, he has a lot less money to spend on production, and it shows. The acting is worse than The Room. The story makes less sense. The Room had a plot that was pretty basic and easy to follow: a man's girlfriend is cheating on him with his best friend, and stuff happens. It may have screwed up its portrayal of human relationships, but it got the basics right.

Here, in addition to having a plot that goes everywhere and includes many moments that don't make sense, this movie screws up its portayal of everything. A priest makes "holy water" that apparently has to be prepared and cooked a particular way, before being used as an ingredient in a no-gay potion. Which is taped to Ben's door, with the hopes that he'll drink it. He doesn't though, so at least Mr. Mraovich understands that aspect of normal human behavior.

There are more murders in the film than you'll find in a single week in Detroit. A lawyer, a gay man, his ex-wife, his straight brother, and a homophobic priest all either commit, attempt, or are the victim of murder at some point.

The dialog is generally better than the The Room, but it still has moments of not making sense. A woman is upset that her husband is gay, so she screams at him that she'll become gay too and then they can live together.

Another thing Tommy Wiseau had was a budget. Here, we have a church with a cardboard cross and a "stained glass" window that looks like it was drawn with crayon. Setting the church on fire apparently involves pouring a gallon of water from a milk carton and dropping a match. Wait, that was supposed to be gasoline? Couldn't the director afford to buy a gas can at least?

Basically, everything The Room does wrong, this movie does worse. Even the single lyrical song is stupid.

This is the Worst Kind of Movie

There are varying degrees of bad when it comes to watching movies. Some are so horrifically bad that they are still entertaining to watch. Some are even more putrid and vile that you hate yourself for ever viewing it. But to me, that worst kind of movie is one where the movie as a whole is bad, but there is a particular element of it that would have been well-suited for something else. In this case, I watched Ben and Arthur and couldnít help but think that the story could have been so much more interesting in the hands of a better director and screen writing team. The story of a homosexual couple trying to be live together against the persecutions of a radical religious group can make for an interesting and compelling story, but instead we much watch the story be bogged down by poor production, terrible acting, and ham handed message that religious crusading against homosexuals is wrong.

And even through all these short comings, I couldnít bring myself to hate this moving. It was trying to tell a story that, while roughly handled, is still interesting to see play out. Whether you have a taste for bad movies, or you want to see how not to make simple mistake in the production of a movie, I recommend checking this movie out. Its way of delivering its messages may be as subtle as a brick to the forehead, but it is nice to see an inexperienced filmmaker try and tell a story about such heavy subject matter on such a paltry budget. I canít guarantee that youíll like it, but for good or for bad, youíll coming away remembering it.