Dissecting 'The Room'
Earlier this year, I watched The Room for the first time in my life. It was as memorable as I could have hoped for. Well, I've since watched it a second time. And, you know, there's just so much to say about it. In fact, I'm going to do exactly that. I already gave a more general overview here, but I'd like to go a little further and talk about some of the other oddities I didn't get around to mentioning before.
Disclaimer that this will contain major spoilers, including the ending! If you've never watched The Room and you're curious about it, I'd recommend seeing it on your own (or with a good group of friends). It's really one of those things you just have to experience for yourself. It truly is one of a kind. But if you'd like to have my analysis, then let's dive in, shall we?
Johnny: A Role Model for Everyone
The basic premise is that a man named Johnny and a woman named Lisa are in a seemingly-perfect relationship together, but it turns out that Lisa is secretly displeased with Johnny and is having an affair with Johnny's best friend, Mark. The first person Lisa admits her displeasure to is her mother, Claudette, even before she tells Mark about it. Claudette tries to convince Lisa that she's wrong and that Johnny is great for her. Seriously, Claudette's dialogue really sells Johnny up:
"Well you've known him for over five years; you're engaged. You said you loved him, he supports you, he provides for you. And darling, you can't support yourself. He's wonderful man and he loves you very much. And his position is very secure, and he told me he plans to buy you a house. […] Well he's a wonderful person, and he's getting a promotion very soon. He bought you a car, he bought you a ring, clothes, whatever you wanted. Now you want to dump him. That's not right. I've always thought of him as my son-in-law. You should marry Johnny, he would be good for you."
Also, in response to Claudette's comment that Johnny is buying Lisa a house, Lisa responds, "That’s why he's so boring." Um, what? Someone generously buying you a house is your definition of boring?
Claudette isn't the only one who thinks Johnny is amazing. Nearly everyone else in the movie does too. Multiple people state on multiple occasions how Johnny is Mark's best friend, Lisa reminds Denny that Johnny is like a father to him, Peter says that he's Johnny’s friend twice in the same scene, and Johnny feels the need to announce partway into his birthday party that it consists of "all my friends". Johnny is so much of a saint, he also pays for Denny's apartment and college tuition, and wants to adopt him. Even minor characters, such as the flower shop lady, and Susan at the coffee shop, seem to exist solely to shower Johnny with praise. Geez.
What's Funnier Than Domestic Abuse?
There's a scene where Johnny and Mark are hanging out on a rooftop, and Mark tells a story of a woman he knew once who was beaten up by a jealous boyfriend. I've seen it pointed out many times by other people how Johnny inexplicably laughs at such a story, despite the movie trying really hard to paint him as a flawlessly nice guy. But it's also strange how Johnny doesn't seem to believe the story is true in the first place ("What a story, Mark!"). I'm tempted to try and analyze why Johnny feels that way, but that would probably be a case of me trying to make sense out of the nonsensical.
Anyway, Mark storms off and Denny arrives, and we then get Johnny and Denny hanging out on the rooftop. Up to this point, the movie has been emphasizing the Johnny/Mark/Lisa love triangle. Things take an interesting turn when Denny passionately confesses that he too is in love with Lisa. Hmm, so does this turn the love triangle into a love quadrangle?
Either way, despite Johnny being in love with Lisa himself, he appears remarkably unfazed by Denny's confession. He responds by giving Denny some strange advice about love and friendship. It really sounds like Johnny is trying to be profound, but it just makes him sound like kind of an idiot.
The Drug Dealer Scene
I always thought this was an incredibly out-of-place moment... moreso than other parts, at least. It gives off an action/thriller/crime vibe, which happens nowhere else in the film. Basically, Denny owes some money to this violent drug dealer named Chris-R, and one day Chris-R tracks Denny down, demanding payment. Upon discovering Denny doesn't have the money, Chris-R goes completely berserk and pulls out a gun, but Johnny and Mark show up just in time to save Denny and haul Chris-R off to the police.
Lisa and Claudette also arrive and witness this. Poor Denny has just been through a traumatic moment. Rather than comforting him, Claudette proceeds to completely tear him down, and she and Lisa start yelling at him, leading to some rather comical dialogue. Another one of those 'you just have to see it for yourself' moments.
There's kind of a sad irony in the fact that this is the most well-acted scene in the entire movie. Too bad it adds nothing whatsoever to the plot. And the next time we see Denny, he's completely fine and doesn't appear to have been fazed by his experience at all.
...actually, the drug dealer scene does have a bit of relevance, but it's an incredibly strange connection. Chris-R and the subplot about Denny's drug problems, of course, never comes up again. The gun that Johnny and Mark take away from Chris-R, meanwhile, is implied to be the same gun which Johnny later uses to kill himself. So, apparently, the point of that entire Chris-R scene wasn't to introduce a compelling antagonist, or to serve as character development for Denny, but to explain where the gun came from?
The Flying Vampire Car
A more behind-the-scenes oddity. But supposedly, Johnny was intended to be a vampire and he was going to have a flying car, but this never made it into the final film. Man, and I thought the drug dealer scene came out of nowhere. So you have an otherwise down-to-Earth and realistic (well, maybe not...) film that was going to have something supernatural in it? I really wish they'd included this in the final cut. It would have made an already bizarre and fascinating movie even moreso. Alas, we can only use our imaginations to guess how this would have turned out.
A Lively Cast
Overall, some of the acting is quite bad. Big surprise there. But some of the acting is actually pretty good. The actress who plays Claudette in particular gives one of the few consistently good performances. It's a shame The Room was her only major acting credit. I would've enjoyed seeing her in something else. The guy who plays Chris-R is even better. He only appears for that one scene, but he nails it. It's as if he and Claudette wandered in from a better movie.
As for the characters, Peter the psychologist is probably the most likeable. Why? Because he's actually a normal, sensible, level-headed person! In a movie like this, he sticks out like a sore thumb. In fact, he even remarks at one point, "There's too many weirdos." I agree.
Also, Mark turns into a complete wingnut when Peter catches him smoking weed on the rooftop (which in itself sounds pretty nonsensical). Peter takes the opportunity to confront Mark on his affair with Lisa, prompting Mark to try and kill Peter by shoving him off the roof! And then Mark abruptly cools off and apologizes to Peter, asking Peter if he's all right, and Peter dismisses it as if nothing ever happened.
Sadly, Peter only appears in a few scenes before he mysteriously vanishes, never to be seen again. I wish we could've seen more of him. Instead, he gets replaced by some random guy named Steven who essentially fills the same role.
This movie has a thing for awkward, cringe-worthy sex scenes. First there's Lisa & Johnny doing it, then we get one between Lisa & Mark, then Lisa & Johnny again, then Mike & Michelle (two random characters who otherwise don't really do anything), and then one more between Lisa & Mark, all of which are pretty poorly-filmed.
We almost get a third sex scene between Lisa & Mark when they start making out on Johnny’s living room couch, before they're interrupted. Man, these two have impulse control problems. Later on, in the middle of Johnny's birthday party no less, Lisa & Mark start making out yet again on the exact same couch, and then later they start dancing in front of everyone. Yeah, that'll go over well...
I also counted six scenes between Lisa and Claudette where they talk about Johnny, usually with Lisa complaining about Johnny for some reason, and Claudette countering that Johnny is a fantastic person and that Lisa is in the wrong.
There's also four different scenes with characters tossing a football back and forth. The fourth such scene has choir music playing in the background, which makes for strange mood juxtaposition. It's just people playing with a football; what makes it so dramatic? (Gigli also featured a scene with choir music. Hmm. There seems to be something about bad movies from the early 2000's utilizing out-of-place choirs.)
You could make a drinking game out of all the repetition. Actually, don't. That might be lethal.
Other Odd Bits of Dialogue
Denny (upon seeing Lisa's dress): "How much was it?"
Lisa: "Denny, don't ask a question like that."
Lisa (to Mark): "Please don't leave, please don't leave. I need you, I love you. I don't wanna get married anymore. I don't love Johnny. I dream about you. I need you to make love to me."
Yeesh. How melodramatic can you get?
Claudette: "Everything goes wrong at once. Nobody wants to help me. And I'm dying."
Lisa: "You're not dying, Mom."
Claudette (calmly): "I got the results of the test back. I definitely have breast cancer."
Lisa: "Look, don't worry about it, everything will be fine."
Johnny: "We got a new client at the bank. We'll make a lot of money."
Mark: "What client?"
Johnny: "I cannot tell you. It's confidential."
Mark: "Aw, come on, why not?"
Johnny: "No, I can't. Anyway, how is your sex life?"
And then this scene when Steven catches Lisa and Mark making out on Johnny's couch in the middle of his birthday party:
Steven: "What's goin' on here?! Why are you doin' this?!"
Lisa: "I love him."
Steven: "I don't believe it!"
Mark: "You don't understand anything, man. Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!"
One More Surprise
Last, and certainly not least, this came inside my DVD copy.
And then on the other side...
Yeah, I'll just let that speak for itself.
Well that about wraps it up for today. It's too bad Tommy Wiseau never directed another film after this. I would have loved to see what else the strange genius of his mind could come up with.
© 2018 Ian Rideout