Ben & Arthur (2002)

Is there a recognized subgenre of movies called something like “The Room, but X” or am I breaking new ground? Either way, it’s been too hetero during this month of some of the worst movies ever made, so let’s watch The Room, but gay! Yes, even gay directors can make movies that are so bad and boring that I long for the sweet release of death while suffering through them. Equality!

You know you’re in for a treat when you see the same name three times before the title appears, all while public domain music plays in the background. Yes, Ben & Arthur is brought to us by Mr. Sam Mraovich, the writer, director, actor (as Arthur), producer, cinematographer, editor, and guy responsible for the music, casting, makeup, and sound. Anyway, Ben and Arthur want to get married and after some useless hurdles they get a civil union, and for the purposes of this movie that counts. Look, 2002 was a very different time. Arthur’s brother, Victor, is a religious fanatic who hates his brother’s homosexuality so much that he murders the couple’s lawyer and tries to end their relationship. You think you know who the good guys are by this point, but Arthur muddies the water by setting a priest on fire. Sure, he was working with Victor, but still! Eventually it comes to a showdown with Victor forcibly baptizing Arthur and Arthur trying to seduce Victor. Ew. The shoot each other to death and the movie ends with more public domain music.

And Ben was certainly present for most of the movie! There was even a completely pointless subplot about his crazy wife not accepting he was gay, despite the implication that they’ve been separated for at something like 3 years. Don’t think about it too hard.

As much as I never want to give Tommy Wiseau credit, at least Johnny in The Room was supposed to be likable. Wiseau may be an alien in an ill-fitting meat suit who cannot accurately mimic human emotions, but the script says Johnny was liked by his friends and–even after they betrayed him–he was mourned. Arthur is a whiny bitch who I wanted to throttle constantly, and that’s just from what’s written in the script. Mraovich’s performance just makes it worse! Now, I’m not saying I cheered when Ben punched Arthur in the face after an argument that stemmed from Arthur being responsible for Ben’s bike being stolen–an argument where Arthur brings up a slight from one of their first dates which is an especially weird and petty move–but I didn’t hate seeing it either.

As for the rest of the film, it’s cheap as all hell. For example, the church Victor attends has a folding table, two chairs, a fake stained glass window made of something like wax paper, a cardboard cross, and a crappy painting of Jesus that looks like the after picture of Ecce Homo, AKA Monkey Christ. The dialogue is bad, the sound is bad, the editing is bad… EVERYTHING is bad. And it’s also boring, which ruins most chances of making fun of it and finding enjoyment that way. The only happiness I got out of this was looking up Victor’s actor and confirming that yes, he has done gay porn. You can tell just by looking at him, and supposedly that was part of the plan to hint that he was deeply closeted, but I prefer to believe Mraovich just couldn’t find a straight actor. Like, any at all.

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