I haven’t seen a movie as thoroughly incompetent on every conceivable level as “Ben and Arthur” since I sat through “The Maize: The Movie”. “The Maize” is still worse by a long shot, but that is only because of all of the unintentional humor throughout “Ben and Arthur”. This movie is a treasure, the sort of good-bad movie that people are always digging for.
To start with, the acting in this movie is absolutely abysmal. All of the accessory characters are basically reading lines off of the page (in one case, I’m pretty sure they actually are), and the director made the incredibly poor decision to cast himself as the lead, despite not being able to act. The villain is played amusingly over the top, yet even he seems incredibly miscast as a extreme religious zealot. The fellow who plays Ben (a much smaller role than you would expect) is perhaps the only adequate acting performance, and he doesn’t exactly light up the screen. Given this was basically a home movie, there is no reason to expect top-notch acting here. I don’t want to put the movie against unrealistic expectations, but the acting is really laughable even with the bar set to limbo levels.
I mention that this is basically a home movie. I don’t know if that was the case, but it sure looks like it. There are no attempts at creative or interesting shots, so everything comes off as very basic and bland. Even some YouTube movies try to do interesting things with the camera. I imagine this has something to do with the fact that Sam Mraovich shared very few responsibilites on the movie, and would certainly have benefitted from a few extra sets of eyes on the shots. He is listed on IMDb as the writer, director, cinematographer, editor, producer, composer, casting director, special effects makeup, script supervisor, sound editor, and star. It sounds like he didn’t have to justify his decisions to anyone, which is not good when you are trying to make a movie. You generally need a lot of eyes working in tandem to make a good movie. A film almost always needs to be a collaboration. Whenever I see a movie with a name repeated constantly in the credits, it immediately throws up a red flag for me. Sometimes that is unavoidable with a low budget, but there is no excuse for doing essentially everything on a movie (like is the case here).
The plot to “Ben and Arthur” reminded me a lot of “Birdemic”, in that it is a message movie with no sense of reality or subtlety. Where “Birdemic” has environmentalism, “Ben and Arthur” has LGBT rights. Ben and Arthur as a gay couple who, as the movie begins, are planning to get married. A legal holdup for gay marriage in Hawaii throws a wrench into their initial plans, but they still ultimately tie the knot early on in the movie (making that obstacle mostly meaningless). The primary plot of the movie revolves around Arthur and his brother, a highly religious man who is determined to make Arthur straight. There are a lot of other things going on in the movie in no particular order, such as Ben’s ex-wife showing up for a scene to spout nonsense and wave a gun around, but primarily it follows Arthur and his brother as they become increasingly violent towards each other. I won’t delve too far into it, but it gets to the point where hitmen are involved and a priest gets set on fire. That sounds far more kick-ass than it is. Also, to say the least, the portrayal of Christians in this movie is not favorable.
The last third of this movie devolves into total chaos, becoming over-the-top violent and unrealistic. It reminded me of “Miami Connection” in how abruptly the otherwise more-or-less innocent characters became blood-thirsty killers capable of heinous acts. It is absolutely worth watching for the “WTF” factor alone.
This movie absolutely belongs in the IMDb Bottom 100, and maybe in even the top 10. It is easily in the ranks of “Birdemic” and “The Maize” in overall quality, and is a true spectacle in cinematic incompetence. Depending on your tolerance for bad movies, I think there is some great entertainment value here. It is kind of like “Birdemic” without the special effects. If that sounds like something you can handle, check out “Ben and Arthur”.