I did a search for this and didn't come up with anything, but if I missed a pre-existing thread, mods, feel free to shut me down and I'll go post in it.
Just wondering if anyone here has heard about this movie called The Room (www.theroommovie.com
). I've known about it for over a year and I finally got to see it the other day, what follows is a review I wrote for no one in particular. I know it's a long review but the film is SO hilariously bad that more people need to know about it. And, yes, as I mentioned in the title, this has SPOILERS
, but since this movie will barely be seen outside of California, Florida, and New York until a possible DVD release, this may be the closest some people get. Anyway, enjoy!
Prior to Saturday’s screening of Tommy Wiseau’s brainchild, The Room, a man informed us that he was doing a documentary on the aforementioned Mr. Wiseau. He asked any of us who felt they had something to say about the film to come to him afterwards for a short filmed interview. With that in mind, as I watched the film, already legendary in my small circle, I tried to think of a response that could encapsulate the experience of watching this utterly incomparable piece of work. The only thing I could come up with was, “If the Ancient Greeks saw this film, they’d probably regret inventing drama.” Yes, the film is that bad. That bad and worse. This film not only gives a bad name to drama, but to art, and perhaps even the existence of humanity itself.
But I digress. I first discovered The Room via a billboard on Highland, near Sunset. It featured a man whose face seemed hideously contorted into some sort of sick parody of a smirk, or maybe a grimace. It was certainly eye-catching, in the manner of a car crash: You don’t want to look, but you cannot turn away. I found myself interested enough to check out the film’s website, www.theroommovie.com.
It was there I beheld the trailer that would alter the course of my life.
Okay, nothing that dramatic, but it did provide me with one of the best jokes I’ve had in months, perhaps even years. The trailer showed an overwrought, poorly acted, and overhyped melodrama. The narrator declared, “Tommy Wiseau’s directing has the passion of Tennessee Williams!” The website contained even more lavish praise in print by members of the press who seemed strangely absent from any known publication. Upon closer inspection of the film’s poster, I noticed that there were quotes falsely credited to several known critics, including Roger Ebert. However, the poster was arranged in such a way that one could not tell exactly which quote was being attributed to which critic, to the point where I began to think perhaps it was simply subliminal messaging. I noticed that the film had finished its LA theatrical run, much to my dismay, for this mystifying poster and side-splitting trailer had more than piqued my interest.
About a month and a half later I decided to show the trailer to some friends, to let them share in this wonderful piece of indie-cinema gone wrong. However, when I played the trailer, I noticed that the film was now being billed as “a quirky new black comedy,” and not as a drama at all! I stared in disbelief as I watched the same trailer, with the SAME voiceover, only with the phrase “Come see this quirky new black comedy” appended to it. It was apparent to us that the screenings had gone so badly that, in an attempt to salvage the film, Tommy Wiseau must have tried to remarket it as a black comedy. However, he didn’t do his job too well, because there were still promotional materials and news stories on the website that called it a powerful drama.
That seemed to be the pinnacle of the joke. There was no way it could go any further. Despite that, I still checked the website from time to time, to see if perhaps they were now trying to bill it as a sci-fi epic. But, lo and behold, screenings in LA started popping up. It turns out Wiseau was trying to cash in on the black comedy angle, and to get some kind of cult audience to build up word of mouth. Well, I wasn’t about to miss my chance. Come hell or high water, I was going to see The Room.
And it did come to high water. It poured as I drove down Wilshire Boulevard looking for building 8670. In this building, in suite 112, I would see the movie whose promotion had filled me so full of mirth. I found the building, parked, and went in to see Tommy Wiseau himself handing out flyers for the next screening. It was then that I realized the picture on the poster was actually flattering. In person, Tommy Wiseau looks like he shared the same origin story as Two-Face from Batman. I sat in the (relatively) swanky seats, waiting for the film to start, when, about 3 minutes before showtime, at least twenty rowdy high school students showed up, and took up all the available seats and then some. Apparently, the leader of this group discovered The Room earlier than I did, saw it, and has now gone to see it at least twelve times, and is Tommy Wiseau’s biggest “fan.” Wiseau even talked to this kid when he introduced the screening. He introduced himself, several of his actors who were in attendance, and the documentarian, who as I mentioned earlier, asked for our responses. With that out of the way, the film began.
The high school students were fairly raucous, right from the beginning. When the Wiseau Films logo came up, they cheered. Normally, I would be completely put off by a bunch of noisemaking hooligans jeering at the screen, but, in this case, it only made the film funnier. They were so gung ho about it, because it was obviously so bad, that all you could do was be gung ho about it. The film itself cannot be conveyed in words. I can describe aspects of it, but not to my satisfaction. I will do my best for those unfortunate souls who have not and may not ever see this film.
The film opens with generic shots of San Francisco. Perfectly fine. The cinematography doesn’t even look half bad. That was the last time I would think anything complimentary about the movie. The film starts with Johnny (Wiseau), coming home to his fiance Lisa. He brings her a present, a red dress. She goes to try it on. As she’s modeling it for Johnny, Denny walks in. Denny, as we later discover, is the boy Johnny always wanted to adopt, but didn’t/couldn’t (it’s never revealed). Despite this, Johnny has still become a father figure to Denny and has even let him have a place in his apartment building (I presume it’s his, because all of his friends live in it). Denny, like many other characters, shows up for no reason and leaves just as mysteriously. However, unlike the other characters, Denny does this very, very often, prompting the high schoolers to shout “Denny!” whenever he appears on screen. Anyway, Denny comes in and wants to play with Johnny and Lisa. Johnny tells Denny that he’s going to take a nap, and Lisa says she’s going to join him. Denny then comments that he likes to watch them. Johnny and Lisa go upstairs and have a pillow fight. Denny joins in and we are witness to one of the first not so subtle homoerotic scenes between Johnny and Denny. However, this time, Johnny chooses Lisa, and Denny, elf boy that he is, exits.
Now, as creepy as this scene already is, let me fill in some gaps. Every actor, and I mean every actor in this film is dreadful. The most natural line reading in the entire film is when Lisa orders a pizza. Add to that Wiseau’s thick accent, and the beyond tepid writing, and you already have plenty of groan worthy and guffaw inducing material. Now, not only that, but half the dialogue is inexplicably dubbed, while the other half is production sound. And to add another layer of absurdity, all the sound effects were dubbed in post-production, and sound that way. They are not only overly loud and too-clean sounding in comparison to the dialogue tracks, but they also miss the mark of what the actual things should sound like. At one point, Lisa rests her head on the sofa, and we hear a resounding “THUD.” I wondered in the next scene if we might see her with a bandage on her head, because it sounded like it hurt. The whole thing reminded me of the test screening of The Dueling Cavalier from Singin’ In The Rain. You know, the bit were Lina’s pearls sound so terrible that they alone elicit a chorus of laughs. Every scene is like this, and I must point out that the semi-admirable cinematography quickly turns into something of much lower quality.
But back to the film. Once Denny is gone, Johnny and Lisa proceed to enact one of the most revolting mating rituals ever caught on screen. To put it simply, Wiseau is wise to showcase his face on the advertising materials because, as grotesque as it may seem, it’s like a bouquet of roses in comparison to the rest of his body, which, unfortunately, gets ample screen time on its own. Watching his buttocks contract as he thrusts into what looks like Lisa’s belly is a sight I will have to carry with me to the end of my days. On top of all this is someone’s idea of an erotic R&B original that had the high schoolers clapping to the beat. After this abomination of nature, Lisa gets up, tells her mother she’s bored with Johnny (this later turns into disgust and outright hatred) and begins an affair with his best friend, Mark (at least, I think that’s his name).
This is the main story. There are also several subplots, absolutely none of which are explored. At one point, Lisa is talking to her mother, who declares, “Nobody loves me, and I’m dying.” To this, Lisa replies, “Stop getting worked up.” The mother then says, “No, it’s true. I am dying. The tests came back, I have breast cancer. I’ll get through it, though. How are the plans for Johnny’s party?” This subject is never discussed by any character ever again. In another scene, Denny stands on the roof of the building (which was actually an indoor set covered in greenscreens so Wiseau could later insert out of focus cityscapes behind the actors), when a man walks up to him out of nowhere, and demands money. Denny tries to get away, and the man pulls a gun on him. Johnny shows up and wrestles the guy to the ground. Denny then reveals he borrowed money from the man to buy drugs. All the characters berate him, and it is also never mentioned again.
Characters are introduced out of nowhere. At one point, Johnny is talking to a strange man in his house (prompting catcalls of “Who are you?” and “What are you doing in my house?” from the audience), later revealed to be a psychologist. Another character comes up and demands Lisa be accountable for her actions against Johnny. The audience is given no explanation as to who this man is, what his relationship is with either Johnny or Lisa, or why he agreed to be in this movie.
This is just a taste of the kind of meandering mess The Room contains. Not only is structure and basic character dynamics thrown completely out the window, but Wiseau has decided that subtext is a dirty word. Therefore, he has someone in every scene say the subtext out loud. The audience thinks, “Oh, this is what’s not being said,” and then someone says it. I feel like this should be called Id: The Major Motion Picture, because not only does every character act on impulse, without motivation, and basically seem to ignore anything related to the ego or superego, but I also believe that it is without the aid of these aspects of the brain that Wiseau wrote, produced, and directed The Room.
This already three page review only scratches the surface of this celluloid travesty. And, I must mention, it is quite clear that this is NOT a comedy in any sense of the word. The music is as heavy handed and melodramatic as the writing and acting, and there are even attempts to lighten up certain scenes through shots of guys leisurely tossing around a football. If this were a comedy, the people making it would have to be so deft, so talented, so sure of themselves that they should all win Oscars. There’s no way someone can act as badly as these actors unless they were bad actors trying to act sincerely. I don’t think it can be faked on the level that it is presented in this film. Make no mistake; this is a film that takes itself seriously. But that doesn’t mean you should. If there’s anything Wiseau will excel at, it will be getting people to see his film through word of mouth. Would a mediocre or even a fairly good film have gotten me to write this lengthy discourse on it? No way. The Room is something unique and special. This film should be shown at film schools A) as an example of what not to do in real movies, and, B) to show everyone the textbook definition of “so bad it’s good.” There is nothing quite like The Room, so, on that merit alone, you should go see it. Do it for the Greeks.