My Experience Seeing the Disastrous “The Room”
August 18, 2010 8 Comments
It has been described as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies,” and by now, many movie-lovers have already heard about Tommy Wiseau’s debacle of a film, The Room. The first I had heard about it was in a feature story on Yahoo!, describing the film’s cult following, including some in the entertainment industry. I was lucky enough to catch a midnight screening of this back in March with a very good friend of mine in Dallas and promised myself that I would, at some point, write about this memorable experience. It took me some time to get around to it, but hey…better late than never, right?
OK, so my friend and I head to the Inwood Theater in Dallas in plenty of time to get our tickets. As we wait on the fairly lengthy line, we immediately feel somewhat out of place, noticing that the majority of the movie-goers there are much younger, with most seeming to be of collegiate age. The line grew larger and larger, up the extensive staircase — I see that many people are carrying props with them. I was curious so I approached a couple of young men and inquired. Having seen it a few times before, he explained the whole interactive experience of seeing The Room, and what the props were for, including the many plastic spoons which so many audience members were carrying that are meant for throwing at the screen every time there is a shot of the framed photos of cutlery that appear throughout for no apparent reason. The doors opened and everyone began taking their seats – to my surprise the theatre was packed solid. And for the next 99 minutes, I was fascinated by what I was watching on screen and throughout the theatre.
The plot is not at all extraordinary. It’s your basic love triangle. Johnny (Wiseau) loves his “future wife” Lisa (Juliette Danielle) and will do anything for her, including buying her that house she always wanted. But Lisa is not happy with Johnny despite his successful career. She confides in her mother (Carolyn Minnott) and Johnny’s best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). Lisa and Mark begin an illicit affair and that’s when the plot thickens. There are a number of supporting characters that randomly come in and out throughout the film. There are subplots that are introduced, and never mentioned again – the most grandiose being when Lisa’s mom tells her, “I got the results of the test back. I definitely have breast cancer.” This, of course, is never brought up again. It’s also not quite clear if the character of Denny (the young college student who Johnny plays a father-figure to) is a fully functioning adult or not – his lack of social etiquette puts this into question, especially when he decides to just jump into bed with the two lovers when things are about to get intimate. There is also a character that simply disappears halfway through the film, and I highly doubt that this is in homage to Shakespeare’s tendency to dismiss certain minor characters after Act II.
The cast is…I want to be nice here, but there is really no way around it…the cast is simply awful and Wiseau, with his heavy (and at times, unintelligible) accent is the worst of the lot. I posted a scene from YouTube on here just to give you a taste of what I’m talking about. Wanna laugh? Then take a peek for yourself and enjoy. It’s the car wreck you can’t turn your eyes away from. There are also a number (too many, in fact) of graphic sex scenes that are embarrassingly bad — and the fact that they try to come off as being “tasteful” just makes it all the more humorous. There are a ridiculous amount of shots that pan across San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge — some shots make it all the way (and the audience cheers the victory), while other shots are cut abruptly (and the audience groans in defeat). The use of the green screen is appallingly evident and the screenplay too, is laughable. A few choice lines include: “You don’t understand anything, man. Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!” “As far as I’m concerned, you can drop off the Earth. That’s a promise,” and my personal favorite was how Wiseau screams in agony, “You are lying! I never hit you! You are tearing me apart, Lisa!”
So yes, Wiseau’s film surely surpassed any and all expectations of awful filmmaking that I had before seeing it. I had heard all the comparisons made to Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glen or Glenda, Troll 2, and The Creeping Terror – and The Room most deservedly ranks right up there with this elite group of film waste. But did I enjoy myself? Hell, yes! We had a ball — and it seemed that everyone around us did as well. I know the film is now available to rent on Netflix, but I would not recommend someone who hasn’t seen it to watch it in the safe confines of their home. No – to fully appreciate this film, you must experience it in a theatre with the cult-crazed fans surrounding you. If you are lucky enough to be living next to a theatre that screens a midnight showing (and the film has indeed made its way across the States), then go with a few friends (and some plastic spoons) and see for yourself. I promise you that you won’t soon forget it. It’s worth it.
It’s funny because on one hand, I admire the hell out of Wiseau because he actually did it. He conceived this project, however lame it was, and put his money where his mouth was (an estimated $7 million spent on production and marketing with zero studio support). He took action, followed through and made this film. And let’s face it, as dreadful as the movie may be, we are still talking about it. Midnight screenings are showing up throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The classic catastrophe of it all has been written up in daily newspapers, online and even in Entertainment Weekly. It was featured on “ABC World News with Charles Gibson” – so for all that Wiseau may have done wrong, he did something right, even if he never intended for it to go down like this.