As one of the most gloriously inept pieces of vanity filmmaking, Ben & Arthur is often referred to as “The Room, only gay”. Only, while The Room had a $6 million budget from Tommy Wiseau’s dubious personal fortune, Ben & Arthur seems to have a budget of $1, filmed on the earliest phone camera, and been edited in an early version of Windows Movie Maker.
The story concerns couple Ben and Arthur, who await the legalisation of gay marriage in Hawaii in order to have their dream wedding, but standing in their way are Ben’s ex-wife Tammy, who strangely thinks that, if she becomes a lesbian, she can be married to Ben again, and also Arthur’s religious brother Victor, who in hilarious fashion, looks the most stereotypically gay of the whole cast. While Ben struggles to legally end his marriage to Tammy, Victor is excommunicated from the church for being related to a gay man. This triggers Victor’s murderous side, first killing the priest, and later Ben (with what is clearly a water-pistol), before finally, Arthur and Victor kill each other. But not before Arthur tries to seduce his brother. Because incest really paints the gay community in a good light.
Adding to the cringeworthy viewing is Mraovich’s dance music score, making every scene sound like it’s set in a skeevy nightclub in the early 90s. The music in the score alone is hideously inappropriate for what is supposed to be a serious drama. The lighting is horrendous, with most scenes being filmed in Mraovich’s own house, and all of the basics of filmmaking have been thrown out of the window.
But while Ben & Arthur is horrible, it’s not unbearable. Watching is a mesmerising experience, as with each passing scene you wonder how this film has come to exist. Some scenes are a riot, some are uncomfortable, all need a lot of alcohol to stomach. It’s a great viewing experience to enjoy all that is wrong with filmmaking, and to remind you that, whatever your failings may be in life, Sam Mraovich’s are worse.