Should I Watch..? The Room
What's the big deal?
The Room is an independently-produced drama film released in 2003 and is the brainchild of enigmatic director and actor Tommy Wiseau. The film is mainly focused on a love triangle between Johnny, his girlfriend Lisa and Johnny's best friend Mark. It has often been cited by numerous publications as the worst film ever made due to its meandering storyline, the introduction of subplots that are never resolved, the inept direction by Wiseau as well as his unusual performance, technical issues that aren't usually a problem with other movies, the cinematography, musical score and just about any other aspect you could think of. Despite this, the movie has become something of a cult classic and frequently sells out midnight showings at cinemas across the world. Wiseau has now accepted that his intention was to make a deliberately bad movie but this has been disputed by the other cast members. Greg Sestero, who played Mark, later wrote a book about the making of the film which was later adapted into its own movie The Disaster Artist (1) in 2017.
What's it about?
Johnny is a successful banker who shares his apartment in San Francisco with his fiancée Lisa and Denny, a young man who lives next door but who is treated like a surrogate son by Johnny. Unfortunately, all is not well - Lisa has grown dissatisfied with Johnny and secretly begins seeing Johnny's best friend Mark. With Johnny becoming suspicious as the wedding day approaches, his attention at work becomes distracted and he finds himself in a downward spiral.
Amidst all this trauma, a number of other people in Johnny's life find their own problems including Lisa's mother Claudette discovering that she has breast cancer and Denny having a violent run-in with a drug dealer, Chris-R. Will Lisa come clean about the affair? What impact will it have on Johnny's mental state? And how strong will Mark and Johnny's friendship remain if the truth did come out?
Lisa, Johnny's future wife
Philip Haldiman (a)
Denny, Johnny's surrogate son
Carolyn Minnott (b)
Claudette, Lisa's mother
Michelle, Lisa's best friend
Mike Holmes (c)
Mike, Michelle's boyfriend
Chris-R, drug dealer
Peter, psychologist & friend of Johnny and Mark
Steven, friend of Johnny and Lisa
Release Date (UK - London only)
24th July, 2009
What's to like?
If you're one of those lucky people who can derive pleasure from truly awful movies, welcome to your perfect flick. The Room is every bit as moronic and inept as you can imagine but it's also earnest and weirdly compulsive. This is mainly due to Wiseau who is undoubtedly charismatic but you can't take your eyes off him because you never know how bad he can get. I spent half the film trying to work out what he is - not European or American, you understand but whether he was human or a tiny human working a mechanical facsimile (I couldn't see any strings so I'm ruling out "puppet"). You watch the film in a trance-like state, agog at just how utterly rubbish the film is but fascinated to see how brutal the car crash will be.
There is not a single scene, line of dialogue or character that is impossible not to ridicule. For anyone wanting to record their own commentaries, this is a gold mine and it's precisely these people the film appeals to. It baits you into poking fun at it and if you can do that then all credit to you. I'm afraid that I'm too professional to overlook bad films - I criticised the first Sharknado (2) for the same reasons and I have absolutely no hesitation in declaring The Room the worst film I will ever see in my lifetime, intentional or otherwise.
Oh, hi Fun Facts!
- According to Sestero's book The Disaster Artist, Wiseau insisted on having his bare buttocks appear in the film claiming that the film wouldn't sell otherwise. Even the film's editor pleaded with him to drop the scene because the sight scared his wife.
- Wiseau financed the film personally to the tune of $6 million. Part of the reason for the skyrocketing budget was because numerous cast and crew had to be replaced after they walked off set and partly because Wiseau struggled to remember basic lines, causing plenty of delays in shooting.
- At midnight showings of the film, fans indulge in some bizarre behaviour including throwing spoons at the screen due to an unexplained photoframe of a spoon in Johnny's apartment as well as tossing footballs to each other in reference to the inexplicable alley football scene. Wiseau has been known to attend screenings from time to time.
What's not to like?
For people like me, the film runs like a textbook on how not to make a movie. As awkward and alien as Wiseau feels, he performs like Marlon Brando next to Sestero who seems to have all the emotive abilities of a discarded dog turd. The script, such as it is, is so disjointed that I expect Wiseau merely cut out and pasted together the soap review sections from various TV guides. The cinematography borders on parody with scenes out of focus and jerky cuts between characters spouting their inane, repetitive dialogue. Even the film's score is appalling - the song "You're My Rose" is the first time I've ever heard a song chorus not match the rhythm of the song it appears in.
Quite frankly, I could go on for hours. Wiseau can't even shoot a sex scene properly although his naked frame is off-putting enough to make viewers take a sudden vow of celibacy. But my biggest problem is that, to some extent, all of the film's flaws don't really count because they are part of the film's unique appeal. I have seen plenty of dreadful films in my time - Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever (3), Manos: The Hands Of Fate (4), Showgirls (5) and Santa With Muscles (6) spring to mind - but The Room is a whole different league. If Wiseau actually attempted a sort of immortality by deliberately making the worst film of all time then he deserves every bit of fortune he receives because this is mission accomplished. However, I suspect that he is every bit as deluded and incompetent as this film suggests and judging by comments from those who know him, that's probably closer to the truth.
Should I watch it?
Intentionally or otherwise, The Room has almost become critic-proof. Whether you'll enjoy it or not depends on your personality. If you have friends that you can ridicule the film with, it is possibly the most fun you'll ever have in a cinema - take plenty of plastic spoons if you do go. But taken on its own, the film is every bit as useless as its reputation suggests. It's highly unusual to find a film that gets every major and minor aspect of the production wrong but trust me, this is what happens when the stars align.
Great For: poking fun at, Wiseau's unique place in Hollywood history, Sestero's book sales, breaking an inmate's soul
Not So Great For: entertainment, film, ordinary people, the careers of anyone involved in the production
What else should I watch?
Genuinely, a more enjoyable way of spending 99 minutes of your life is sitting through a shopping channel or a Donald Trump press conference (it's about as coherent as this movie). I challenge you to think of a worse film than this because I certainly can't and I've been reviewing movies for many years now. If, however, you get a kick out of really terrible movies then your first port-of-call should be the IMDb Bottom 100, a list of the lowest rated movies on the website. Among the lowlights are the equally moronic Birdemic: Shock And Terror (7) which is also an independent production as well as big budget studio turkeys like Disaster Movie (8) and Son Of The Mask (9).
Otherwise, pretty much any other film would be a better way of passing the time than Wiseau's disaster-piece. I even prefer the notoriously shoddy Batman & Robin (10) to this...
Oh, hi Appendices!
- The Disaster Artist
- Ballistic: Eck Vs Sever
- Manos: The Hands Of Fate
- Santa With Muscles
- Birdemic: Shock And Terror
- Disaster Movie
- Son Of The Mask
- Batman & Robin
© 2018 Benjamin Cox