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About a month ago, I said to my friend, in my youthful naivete: "Let's watch a movie, your pick." As she was recovering from quite a bad break-up at the time, I expected some kind of weepy relationship drama - or a chick comedy - either or. However, she whipped out this DVD with a malicious grin. As the case has a picture of Tommy Wiseau (more on him later) caught in mid-blink in an atmospheric black and white, I asked her if it was a horror, to which she replied... "of sorts".
Of sorts. The Room is a 2003 indie movie, self-described as "a film with the passion of Tennessee Williams". Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed and starred in the lead role of Johnny, a paradoxical altruistic banker. Also starring is his 'future wife' Lisa, his best friend Mark, and Denny, a young orphan Johnny financially supports. Lisa and Johnny's relationship is characterised by frequent and passionate lovemaking to R&B slow jams. In fact, this takes up at least the first 15 minutes. These scenes are intensely grotesque and gratuitous. Lisa seems to feel the same, as she confides in her mother that she is growing inexplicably bored of the rich, kind and sexually satisfying Johnny, and wishes to have an affair with Johnny's BFF Mark. Her mother, Claudette, attempts to dissuade her using some bizarre misogynistic reasoning: Johnny is the source of her financial stability and thus it would be best to stay with him even if she is unhappy. Great advice, mom. Claudette also casually informs Lisa that she has breast cancer - but this is never mentioned again...
Several subplots suddenly appear: two strangers sneak into Johnny and Lisa's apartment to have sex, Denny has a hilarious run in with a drug dealer, and Mark tries to murder a psychologist. To quote Wikipedia, "Each of these subplots receive little exposition, and none are ever resolved." Visual poetry. In the latter half of the film another event develops as Lisa plans Johnny's surprise birthday party - even as she falls further and further out of love with him and into the (admittedly reluctant) arms of Mark.
I am not a film student, so I do not know the actual specifications, but the quality of the film itself - technically speaking - is about the level of a Mexican telenovela in the 1970s, in all areas. The incidental music throughout was obviously forgettable, as I don't remember it. Spliced between scenes is stock footage of the San Francisco area, including a boat passing under the Golden Gate Bridge, each time never quite getting to the end - a fitting visual metaphor for The Room. Johnny and Lisa's apartment is presumably why the film is called "The Room" as most action takes place here; the sets themselves look fake and awkward, drawing uncomfortable parallels with the acting. Notably, there is a photo of a spoon in Johnny and Lisa's apartment, which like many details in the film is never explained or alluded to, but causes audiences to hurl plastic spoons at each other during screenings whenever it slides into view.
Wiseau's acting, especially his vocal delivery with his thick ambiguous accent, has been described as Borat trying to do an impression of Christopher Walken playing a mental patient. Oddly, he decided to redub all his lines post-production, so sometimes they don't match the movements of his mouth. This is really jarring. Meanwhile, Juliette Danielle, who plays Lisa, has an acting style consisting of revealing her breasts and hoping for the best. Greg Sestero, who plays Johnny's friend and Lisa's lover Mark, is more than a bit wooden - but frankly it could be much worse. To be fair to the actors, the roles written for them are supremely ludicrous, as there is little personality to the characters in the first place, or much development to speak of, except when Mark shaves off his beard (we are treated to a wonderful zoom in on his naked face, it's the stuff of fable). Philip Haldiman, who played Denny, a sort of adopted son character to Johnny, actually produced a graphic novel based on his experiences working on The Room. He divulged Wiseau's penchant for eyeliner and that his directing mostly consisted of shouting abstract actions, such as "be crazy!" Considering this the acting isn't as bad as it could have been, I think...
The film had a lot of problems backstage, too, with Wiseau going through many versions of the cast and crew who simply quit. Overall the film had a budget of $6 million, some of which Wiseau admitted he funded by importing leather jackets from South Korea. This was parodied by comedian Patton Oswalt who mimicked Wiseau's appearance in a fake infomercial and encouraged criminals to launder money through his film "The Kitchen".
The first half an hour of the film are a laugh riot, and is where the most famous lines are spoken (Wiseau starts almost every line with, "Oh, hi Mark!" and ends it with "that's the idea!"). These 30 minutes are where the majority of ridiculous situations come into play, including Mark and Lisa having an extended love scene on a staircase to yet more slow jams, and the infamous flower shop scene, which I will let you discover yourselves. After this passes, the last hour or so is a spectacular study in dullness, even though Lisa's increasingly irrational behaviour threatens to tip Johnny off to her affair, it doesn't so much build suspense as fail to suspend disbelief. I think the film could've easily shaved off 40 minutes of this filler and still had a storyline as cohesive as it ever could have been. As for the end, it's inevitably very stupid, there isn't really much more I can say about it...
A cult hit, The Room has several midnight screenings around the world where the consumption of alcoholic beverages is highly encouraged. Apparently before every screening Wiseau reads out a sonnet. Really. These screenings are apparently extremely fun, due to the spoon fights I mentioned before and the general drunk stupor of the audience members involving much shouting of obscenities at the screen. I'd go so far as to say The Room is probably best watched slightly inebriated. Though regrettably I was sober during my viewing of it, even then I was entertained in an ironic way, and I don't regret wasting 99 minutes of my life on it (...too...much...). Gather your friends, purchase your beverages, put on The Room and you will probably have a very memorable movie night for a long time to come. That's the idea!
Price and availability - this is currently out of stock everywhere I checked (ATOR), but it is available on Netflix. It isn't rated but it does have nudity, scenes of a sexual nature and some swearing so keep that in mind. Probably not safe for humans to see, but see it anyway. Definitely Oscar-worthy material, don't miss it!
The room is possibly the most legendary film of all time and has a massive cult following. It is any good, well that is where the debate is. I think it is the perfect example of a film being so bad, that it is good and as such I personally love it. I can see the other review gave this one star, so I will definitely have to counter it.
A rich banker faces the biggest crises of his life when everything around him starts to fall apart. Everyone who has ever loved betrays him, how will he deal with this and turn his life around.
Tommy Wiseau - Johnny
Juliette Danielle - Lisa
Greg Sestero - Mark
Philip Haldiman - Denny
Carolyn Minnott - Claudette
So as you can see the main star is Tommy Wiseau who is also the writer, the producer and the director. He really does do it all. Clearly he is providing the budget as well, so I guess he can do what he wants. What I like is that he has genuinely tried to make a classic film here, about a man seeking some form of redemption, but the film is just hilarious that I don't even know where to start.
Firstly he can't act, well neither can any of his co-stars but he really steals the show. The acting is so bad, that every line he utters will crack you up, especially when he goes for the dramatic scenes. It is beyond bad acting, and Tommy himself says he is American, well he may be a citizen, but no way he was born in America, I refuse to believe that. That accent he has is a thing of wonder.
Now in terms of the plot it is just all over the place. They bring up random topics, and never refer to them ever again, like the mother saying she has breast cancer or a random drug dealer who appears. Then there are plenty of random characters who also literally appear for a few seconds, just so many pointless scenes. The characters all seem confused and go around acting like idiots, but it makes for enthralling viewing. Just nonstop amazement.
What is funny is that after people started to turn this in to a comedy, Tommy Wiseau quickly jumped on the band wagon himself saying he intended to make it exactly as it is and it is a 'black comedy'. Well we all know that is a lie and that's what makes it even more funny. That someone tried this hard to make a good movie and failed so miserably.
I wish I could give this five stars, but I simply cannot, there were a couple of boring scenes and its very rare for me to find a movie that is perfect, however this movie is so close to perfect that is scares me and for that I give it four stars.
The Room is director, actor, producer and all-round renaissance man Tommy Wiseau's film debut. Dubbed "The Citizen Kane of bad movies" the room will astound you with its terrible dialogue, nonsensical plot points that go nowhere ("I definitely have breast cancer!") characters that are appear with no introduction or reason and best of all Tommy Wiseau's terrible and frequently over-dubbed acting ("YEWWRR TAHRIN MEAPARRT LEEHSA") The film embodies the phrase "so bad it's good" to the point where the film became a surprise cult smash in America with midnight showings of the film selling out and the audience participating by yelling along with the terrible lines and throwing plastic cutlery around the cinema whenever one of the many close-up shots of a framed picture of a spoon appeared. Since the film was panned by the critics but embraced ironically by bad film lovers everywhere Wiseau has claimed the film was "meant to be a dark comedy." It wasn't. It's just bad. Watch it.