Ever wonder how watching the same movie every week for a year might affect a person? Me neither. That’s a really weird thing to think about. But apparently, movie obsessed comedian Bill Gray did wonder that after reading a ridiculous article on Film School Rejects, which joked that watching Top Gun every week will lead to “a healthier you.” Inspired by the article, he and three of his cinephile friends decided to find out what exactly would happen. And now they blog about their bizarre movie experiment on their website, Cinema52. Why? “For science,” Bill told me earlier this week, as I joined him in his 32nd weekly screening of Top Gun.
Not all four movie nerds are watching Top Gun. I assumed for sanity purposes, but Bill said he only chose the Tom Cruise Navy Fighter Pilot flick due to the aforementioned article. The other four were not to be subjected to a weekly dose of Tom. They got to pick other films. There was one stipulation in their weekly movie choice, however; since Bill neither hates nor loves the movie Top Gun, the other three bloggers had to choose films they also felt neutral about. John is watching High Fidelity. Ty is watching The Truman Show. Nancy was watching Spider-Man 3. Was rather than is, because, as Bill emphasized, this is a “science experiment,” and that means scientific controls and whatnot. One week Nancy mixed up her Blu-Ray and DVD of Spider-Man 3, and could not play the Blu-Ray version in the DVD player she had on hand. As a result, she missed a week and was out of the experiment. Considering her movie was Spider-Man 3, Bill says she reportedly, “wasn’t that bummed.”
As watching the same movie every week can get old pretty fast, Bill spiced up this week’s viewing with a drinking game he made up. In case you want to play at home, in which case, I would suggest online dating, here are the rules: 1) Everytime “Danger Zone” or “Take My Breath Away” comes on, you must take a sip 2) everytime someone says “Maverick,” you must take a sip 3) any time a homoerotic glance goes down (it goes down a lot), you must take a sip 4) when you hear the erroneously shouted line “I want some butts,” you obviously have to finish your drink. The results are pictured below. Bill’s tallies may differ. Also, please note my feminist notebook.
So what has Bill learned so far from this experiment? Well, according to him, these things: all the women in the movie look terrible (they do). The music is horribly catchy (it is). The movie is really, pretty bad (awful, actually), but it’s not as bad as White Chicks. There’s a ton of homoeroticism (read: Tom Cruise stars in it). And if you don’t believe that, just watch this scene and note the music playing as shirtless, sweaty men play volleyball in tight jeans. Or listen to Tarantino’s analysis.
Bill has also learned almost every line. One of the rules he set for himself was no pausing of the movie. Start to finish. Zero interruptions. So when we missed some parts due to my pesky interview questions (i.e. how many bites do you think I can finish this slice of pizza in?), he would recite word-for-word what I had missed. Just in case case I’d missed some crucial plot point (there aren’t any). I felt sort of bad for him. He will now have the dialogue from Top Gun stuck in his head, most likely, for the rest of his life. At least it’s in the name of science…
He’s also gained a new found fascination for Tom Cruise movies. Bill’s trying to watch as many as he possibly can. God love him…or hate him? I can’t say for sure. I’m not religious. But it’s definitely intriguing. How much Tom Cruise can a person take? Have you guys ever seen Eyes Wide Shut? It’s enough to turn you celibate. I asked Bill if his fascination with Cruise movies coincided with a fascination with the actor. And because I might have ADD, or just never truly take the time to listen to anyone, I cut him off before he could answer and asked his thoughts on the recent TomKat split. Rightfully so, he rolled his eyes before spewing this glorious response: “I love movies. I don’t give a fuck about movie stars. So when [the breakup] happened, I was like ‘I don’t care about Katie and Tom, I only care about Tom and Kelly McGillis.’”
I thought it was funny that Bill is basically all out of shits to give about Tom Cruise, but at the same time, the actor has taken over his life. Bill told me one of the biggest problems is the effect this weekly ritual has had on his social and stand-up comedy life. He’s missed stand-up. Canceled dates with his girlfriend and friends. Apparently, this is frustrating for him to explain to others. “People will be like ‘where were you last night, man?’” he told me, “and I’ll have to say ‘I was busy fucking with Tom Cruise. I had to; it’s for science!’”
While this scientific endeavor has allowed him to make several weird discoveries about the film, the overall effects have yet to be determined. Afterall, it’s only been 32 weeks. I’m not a mathemetician, but I’m pretty sure he’s still got 20 more weeks to go. And, as Bill revealed during our interview/beer and pizza session, the end of his Top Gun year is not the end of the experiment. Again, because the bloggers are being all sciency about it, they decided one year of research simply isn’t enough. So they’re embarking on another 52 weeks next year, and then again the year after that. 2013 has a slightly different approach. Instead of watching movies they feel neutral about, they’re going to watch (and most likely ruin) a movie they love by spending 52 weeks with said beloved film. But here’s the really cool part: you guys get to vote. Starting September 1st and running until October 1st, the movie scientists of Cinema52 want you to vote on their 2013 films. Each blogger will pick three movies they love and you can vote once every day for each blogger’s film throughout the month of September. The results will be revealed in January. Stay tuned for more updates on that voting process. (In case you were wondering, the theme for 2014 will be movies they hate. Oh, the splendor!)
In the end, we may not know the effects of watching the same movie every week, or at least, we won’t for another three years. However, we do know this: Bill’s developed a pretty screwed up relationship with Top Gun. “I have this S&M relationship with it. It’s like a relationship that gets boring so you have to break out the leather and the chains. Hence drinking games, and watching it with French subtitles.” There you have it, folks–50 Shades of Bill Gray.