It’s been hailed as one of the worst movies of all time. Ten years later, people are still talking about the magnificently inept masterpiece that is The Room. But is this really an example of a movie that’s so bad that it’s good? My review of The Room after the jump.
Johnny (Tommy Wiseau), a banker living in San Francisco, seems to have it all: a successful career, a devoted fiancé, Lisa (Juliette Danielle), and plenty of friends, including his best buddies Mark (Greg Sestero) and Denny (Philip Haldiman). This all changes when his impending marriage to Lisa is thrown into jeopardy by her secret relationship with Mark. Strange, melodramatic events ensue which build to a climax that was most likely intended to be heartbreaking but instead comes across as unintentionally hilarious, much like the rest of the film. If the word ‘film’ can indeed be used here.
Watching The Room was one of the strangest and most hilarious movie-viewing experiences of my life. It’s easy to assume that The Room was the end result of an extraterrestrial who, after deciding to make a film about humans, does so after only a day of research…if his research materials only consisted of a couple of episodes of Days of Our Lives, a grainy tourism advertisement for the city of San Francisco and a soft-core porn movie from the mid-90’s. Indeed, the unofficial 2010 video game adaptation of The Room (yes, such a thing actually exists) confirms that the main character, Johnny, really is an alien in human form.
Tommy Wiseau, The Room’s flamboyant director, writer and lead actor has retroactively claimed that The Room is a black comedy. I don’t really buy this for one simple reason: it’s just too sincere in its aspirations to serve as a meaningful, sober look at the dark side of relationships, in the guise of a romantic drama. To say that it fails in every facet of this lofty endeavour is a massive understatement. But to the film’s great credit, it is this complete lack of self-awareness and guile which makes it such an entertaining time at the movies.
To put it simply, the acting in this movie is atrocious. Wiseau’s accent (a cross between Ukrainian and Belgian, to my ears), along with his strange experiments on the English language with awkward phrasing and idioms, turns every sentence uttered by him into comedy gold. Boasting a glorious mane of black hair he stole from 90’s era Daniel Day-Lewis and an age seemingly double that of his co-stars, Wiseau somehow manages to come across as creepily endearing as the good-hearted, but hapless Johnny. It’s a performance worthy of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his début role in Hercules in New York. The other actors don’t fare much better with performances ranging from bored to overly earnest, often in the same sentence. Greg Sestero as Johnny’s best friend Mark looks particularly uncomfortable throughout proceedings which makes sense given that he was originally just the line producer on the film.
The plot is easy enough to follow but the actions and motivations of the characters seem incredibly random and, at times, downright bizarre. During many of the film’s supposedly intense dramatic beats, characters often throw footballs to each other. And if we ever forget that Johnny and Mark are best friends, most of the characters utter some variation of the phrase “But they’re best friends!” whenever the two of them are mentioned. Denny, the young man who Johnny appears to support financially, confesses his love for Lisa to Johnny in one scene. Johnny is totally fine with this and treats young Denny to a fatherly monologue on how Lisa loves him as “…a human being” and how the world would be a better place if everyone loved each other. Denny even follows Johnny and Lisa into the bedroom and plops down onto the bed with them just prior to their love-making.
Which brings me to the sex scenes. These are long, drawn-out, softcore-esque ordeals set to soft R and B music which, along with every aspect of the movie, feels like it came from the mid-90’s. Think ‘I’ll Make Love to You’ by Boyz II Men, only cheesier. Needless to say, these scenes are about as erotic as a piece of toast.
I could go on all day about the ineptitudes of The Room. I found this a difficult film to review because on one hand, you have one of the most poorly made movies in history but on the other, all of these flaws combined with the film’s absolute refusal to be self-aware make it one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. I figured that as a movie, it gets a 1/5 but for entertainment value, it’s a 4/5. Therefore, I decided to take an average. Still, if you’re a fan of cinema (good and bad), I implore you all to watch the beautiful travesty that is Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.
By Johnson Hii.
Director: Tommy Wiseau
Writer(s): Tommy Wiseau
Starring: Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero
Runtime: 99 minutes