Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

We all have one tapestry-hanging, never-shuts-up-about-Thailanding, gap-yah-taking friend who, when film night looms, can't help but flex their more 'cultured' eye. Grown Ups 2 isn't on the cards. Up is gathering dust on the shelf. Instead, you're left chained to the sofa, forced to watch some black-and-white silent film. Nobody likes this friend. Sometimes, watching Adam Sandler fight his corner against a moose is enough. Maybe my brain just can't come to grips with the high-minded ideas expressed in 1950s French cinema - but, I prefer to think that there are some things that are so bad, they're good.

Sadly, to see why, we'll need to go on a slightly less interesting gap year of our own. First stop: Boston.

Though it's populated by Harvard-going, gilet-wearing nepo-babies, it has one main attraction: The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA). Kickstarted in 1994, MOBA has committed itself to housing art so bad it cannot be ignored. If you're desperately searching for a child's cack-handed drawing of Medusa frying a fish or looking for a painting of Marilyn Monroe that eerily resembles Lord Farquaad, MOBA is the place to go. Sadly, my student loan won't let me go to Boston. In fact, it rarely lets me go to Sainsbury's more than once a week. 

How is it possible to have a film so good that it is bad?

Set in San Francisco, California - and marking our second stop-over - Tommy Wiseau's The Room is the perfect counterpart to MOBA's Monroe-Farquaad lovechild. Not only are the three sex scenes in the first 20 minutes cripplingly uncomfortable, they have also convinced some to doubt Wiseau's humanity, claiming that The Room is like "a movie made by an alien who has never seen a movie, but has had them thoroughly explained." Disliking Wiseau's 2003 classic, however, seems to only be the reserve of pretentious, ivory-tower-sitting critics. Midnight showings of The Room colonise North American and London cinemas. 20 years later, Wiseau's cinematographic catastrophe still reels in crowds of adoring, cosplaying fans.

Something here has gone wrong. How can something be regarded alongside Spielberg masterpieces and Tarantino triumphs if it can only be awkwardly watched through fingers. How is it possible to have a film so good that it is bad? There are no actions so immoral that they become moral. There are no bricks so red that they are blue. How, then, can the jewel in the crown of bad movies break this rule?

It can only be awkwardly watched through fingers

In trying to resolve this paradox, we need to go to our final, most daunting gap year destination: Sunday Lola's. As you're drunkenly walking home - having spent all your time in the smoking area with people who aren't even your friends - the strangest sequence of events takes place.

You'll pass chortling, gowned students wielding two half-drunken cider bottles duct taped to their hands. And, as you politely make your way past the flock of Edward Cider-hands, you might even have to wade through a crowd of freshers belting Taylor Swift's Love Story. 


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For however nauseatingly uncomfortable these interactions are, they're entertaining because they're plain bizarre. And it is this bizarreness, something we almost never get to see, that has allowed Wiseau to cement himself in cinema history. It's not his stellar acting, or his command of timing, that has inducted him into the hall of fame. Rather, it is the thought - shared by anyone who has endured its hour-and-a-half runtime - that Wiseau couldn't possibly have thought that his film was going to be well-received. It's not trying to take itself seriously.

It is this lesson, I think, that my gap-year-taking friend should take note of. Fetishising poorly-attended European film festivals is a sure-fire way to miss out on Wiseau's bizarrely good cinema. And, sometimes, watching Adam Sandler fight a moose - instead of yawning through another lazily subtitled black-and-white film - does the same job.