Hall of Fame Speech #21: The Roommate

Brief note before we start: This year we got together our fifth (!) class to be inducted into the Smaddies Baddies BMT Hall of Fame. At the time these films are inducted it will be officially 10 years since we started BMT! That’s absurd. But as is typical there will be films we watch five years ago which maybe deserve to be considered the merde de la merde of BMT delight. The previews and speeches will be released leading up to the eighth (tenth?) Smaddies Baddies for the five films ultimately chosen. Some might say the purpose of watching all genres and sizes of movie is to find another Here On Earth, the perfect BMT film. Well, this film may not be perfect, but I do know one thing … Billy Zane wants to go to fashion week. Enjoy!

Hall of Fame Induction Speech for The Roommate

In the world of The Roommate, Billy Zane was living his best life as a happy fashion professor and predator of young ladies at an unnamed university in southern California. Despite everything he had, he always dreamed of one thing every year, and that is Fashion Week in Milan. He just wanted to go to fashion week guys! It’s a chance of a lifetime. That is, no joke, maybe the only tangible thing I remembered about this film as you’ll see. I remembered, and will always remember, that Billy Zane wanted to go to fashion week. I completely forgot Cam Gigantic was in this film … but I still randomly mention that Billy Zane wanted to go to fashion week in polite conversation. And that right there, that’s why The Roommate deserved consideration for the BMT Hall of Fame.

It has been five years since we watched the film. Somehow I still have not watched Single White Female, the film that this film blatantly rips off. Whatever … what do I remember?

  • Billy Zane only wants to go to fashion week! Somehow, someway, this somewhat minor role for Billy Zane launched him immediately into the BMT (actor) Hall of Fame. He just wanted to go to fashion week … and sure, probably sexually assault Minka Kelly. But ultimately his shattered dreams of partying at Fashion Week is basically all I remember about this film.
  • This was a film that was surprisingly very much in the mainstream at the time, which is kind of mind blowing to think about. How mainstream? Well, SNL made a Digital Short about it. That’s usually reserved for hugely popular things like the season 2 finale of The O.C. … wait.
  • I think it is easy to forget just how (relatively) famous Minka Kelly (who was just coming off of Friday Night Lights) and Leighton Meester (who was starring in Gossip Girl at the time) were. This very much feels like Blumhouse before Blumhouse in that they snapped up television stars on the cheap and managed to ensemble an incredible cast out of it.
  • Other than that … huh, I really can’t remember anything about this movie. It is such an obvious and generic thriller that my brain can’t hold onto it, it is like smoke, impossible to grasp.

So which do I think is the most important? It really depends on what you are looking for. What actually sets this film apart from other generic teen thrillers is the cast. Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigantic, and Billy Zane? Uh, sign me up! These days I feel like a Blumhouse-y teen thriller ends up going with just one Dennis Quaid, or J-Lo, etc. I’m sure for some younger generation some of those casts have a similar allure with people like Lucy Hale headlining. But nothing says the BMT-generation than Friday Night Lights, Gossip Girl, The O.C., and Billy Zane!

Wait, I can hear you saying, but really? Is that all that sets the film apart? No, because you see … Billy Zane wants to go to fashion week. And he really really wants to go to fashion week with Minka Kelly specifically. And he (probably) wants to have sex with her … but when push comes to shove and Leighton Meester comes a-knocking, the only thing Billy Zane really wants in his heart of hearts is to go to fashion week, so why won’t she just let him go to fashion week? Won’t someone think of poor Billy Zane and his dreams of fashion week?! This joke has been a giant part of BMT for the last five years. I probably mention Billy Zane’s desire to go to fashion week three or four times a year. That is the mark of a truly great BMT film. So that’s it really. There is potentially a reason for it’s Hall of Fame induction in general (the stellar tv-star cast), but specifically for BMT it is all about the Zane (as usual).

How did the rewatch go? Huh. Well, I can certainly see why I don’t remember a thing about this film after rewatching. It is so wholly generic and predictable that your brain really can’t latch onto anything. Everything could (and is) completely derivative of other films. So that’s it right? No Hall of Fame for The Roommate, we have to admit we made a huge mistake, right? WRONG. Because Billy Zane still wants to go to fashion week, babyyyyyyyyyy! And really, that was all I ever needed this film to do. The only way this film wasn’t going to meet my expectations was if it somehow turned out that we were totally misremembering the film and instead Billy Zane was like … coming from fashion week in Titanic or Zoolander or something. But nope, he certainly was super interested in partying in Milan in The Roommate, and so the BMT meme lives on!

A few things changed while viewing this the second time. Like, I have a new respect for Cam Gigantic now (I might even call him by his actual name some day). He is pitch perfect as the secretly-nice, super-chill, frat bro who seems like he smokes weed 24 hours a day, but doesn’t make a big deal about it (you know?). And, as mentioned above, really the entire cast is such a blast from the past that it is just a continual delight to see Lyla Garrity and Blair Waldorf interact on screen, even if it is in a blah generic thriller like The Roommate. And finally, I think more than ever, having watched hundreds of bad movies at this point, it was very obvious this was just Single White Female in a different setting. No wonder critics hated it.

It is somewhat unusual that I pretty much nail the “what I remember” section of a Hall of Fame rewatch, most of the time it turns out I completely forgot that Big Momma dunked a basketball and my mind exploded (for example). This one I think I pretty much nailed it, it is all about that cast and Billy Zane. In the era of The Boy Next Door, where Blumhouse churns out critically panned, but financially successful thrillers and horror films for teenagers to go to on the weekend, I think it can be easy to forget just how much of a delight these easy, breezy teen-targeted thrillers can be when they have that one weird quirk. That one thing your brain can use as a totem to navigate the confusing mishmash of derivative ideas. And so we’ll always remember that Billy Zane wanted to go to fashion week. He wanted to go so, so badly. Welcome to the Hall of Fame The Roommate.

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