What The Bleep Do We Know?

What The Bleep Do We Know?

With the recent news that long-time movie rental giant Blockbuster may be on its way out, I've been contemplating how new technology has changed the at-home viewing experience. There's no doubt that services like Netflix and other, purely virtual systems are superior to physical storefronts, but a part of the ritual will definitely die when the video shop goes the way of the dinosaur. The hidden aspect of scanning the shelves for the movie you want to see is noticing but ultimately dismissing all the movies you don't want to see. I can't recall how many times I ignored the genre-defying 2004 film What The Bleep Do We Know? but I'm certain I never would have seen it had a friend not put it on his Netflix queue. The amazing thing about Bleep is not that it's a bad movie, but that it's stunningly bad.

No synopsis of What The Bleep Do We Know? could possibly do justice to its 109 minutes of unrelenting fiasco. I can't decide if I'm lucky or if I'm missing out for not seeing the extended director's cut, which runs for a solid 324 minutes. Were I being nice, I would say that Bleep is a mix of expert analysis of the real-world implications of quantum physics and dramatized applications of those principles. But I'm not going to be nice because this movie really doesn't deserve it. The real premise of Bleep is a murderer's row of unqualified crackpots talking nonsense in between long chains of terrible, terrible ideas caught on film.

Here's a quick breakdown of the so-called experts who serve as this film's talking heads. Amit Goswami is an acolyte of Deepak Chopra with no real scientific background whatsoever. John Hagelin is transcendental meditation student who calls himself a physicist. Stuart Hameroff is an anesthesiologist. JZ Knight is the whole world's crazy aunt who thinks she's channeling a spiritual guru. The list keeps going on like this. There are only two qualified people in the entire movie, one who has actively protested Bleep for editing his responses to fit the film's philosophy and one who inadvertently instigated the most insane segment of the story.

As for that story, it revolves around a photographer named Amanda, played by token deaf chick Marlee Matlin. Amanda is in the middle of an existential crisis brought on by her ex-husband's affair with another woman, her own nonspecific pill addiction and the insufferably kooky free spirit who shares her apartment. Amanda wanders through Portland, Oregon experiencing completely nonsequitur lessons in hilariously incorrect physics. I had the good fortune to watch this movie with an honest-to-goodness nuclear physicist, which made for some amazing laughs on its own. Still, it doesn't take a professional scientist to know that quirks in the behavior of light particles doesn't translate to the ability to manifest reality from thought.

If What The Bleep Do We Know? was just a New Age documentary about idiots co-opting science into purely unscientific beliefs, it wouldn't be worth mentioning. But the film's manic middle section more than makes up for the rank stupidity of the bookends. Through some series of events related to quantum basketball, dancing on paint and doing more cocaine than Tony Montana, Amanda ends up at the most bizarre wedding ever committed to film. The oppressively banal occasion gradually devolves into an orgy of awfulness, a parade of stupid computer animation, beyond-bad acting and complete philosophical bankruptcy. Just when it looks like Bleep's three (yes, three) directors have done the most absurd thing possible, they trump themselves with yet more randomness.

If only for that incredibly strange wedding, What The Bleep Do We Know is a transcendent piece of cinema. It is so, so bad that it's amazing it ever got made. The conflicting voices of three hopelessly inept directors mix with a cast of human cartoons and a panel of certifiable dingbats to create what may just be the greatest debacle ever caught on film.