|"You're tearing me apart, Lisa": Tommy Wiseau in The Room|
The Room Review
2003, 99 minutes
Rated R for sexuality, language, and brief violence
The lights dim, the clapping begins. Audience members howl, and it starts raining spoons. Welcome to the world of midnight screenings of the cult classic film, The Room. Nothing is quite like The Room with its gratuitous sex scenes, obvious continuity errors, and repetitive dialogue. Directed, written, and financed by Tommy Wiseau (he is also the lead actor), the film is truly incredible in how it got to be what it is.
The Room follows a man named Johnny (Wiseau) who is living the perfect life with his "future wife" (the word fiancé is never said), Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Suddenly, she decides to cheat on him with his best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). Everything gets out of hand after that.
There are quite a few films that are absolutely awful (Showgirls, Bellflower, Plan 9 from Outer Space), but they all have some form of redeeming value. Showgirls, for example, has some scenes that are well-filmed. Bellflower too has an interesting look to it. But The Room, there is not one redeeming quality about it...except for the fact that it is absolutely hilarious because of how inept it is. Much of the ineptness of it comes from the fact that it takes itself completely seriously and Tommy Wiseau's legendarily bad acting.
Tommy Wiseau is the worst actor to ever have graced the silver screen with his presence. He has some sort of a unnamable European accent, long black hair, a creepy laugh, and skin so icky that you'd think you were looking at a dinosaur (you get the "pleasure" of seeing plenty of it during the ridiculous sex scenes). He says his lines with a complete commitment to his material, but the delivery either comes out wrong or he overacts so much that it causes unintentional laughter. Wiseau has no facial expression besides that of a zombie. He cracks a weird-looking smile every once in a while, but it always goes back to a zombified look.
The script is unbelievable. It is so horrifyingly terrible that one has to wonder what was going through Wiseau's mind when writing it (he still insists that The Room is a great film). The story is cliched and there are so many plot holes and abandoned plot lines that it is a miracle that the story (somewhat) stays together. In one scene, Paulette, Lisa's mom, announces that she has breast cancer. We never hear of it again. In another scene, Peter, a friend of Johnny's makes an appearance, but we never see him again for the rest of the movie. However bad these are, the dialogue takes the film to a whole other level.
The dialogue is laughably bad. "Leave your stupid comments in your pocket" and "What planet are you on?" are just two examples of this. The best example of the hilarity is the well-known "flower shop scene". In those 20 seconds, the bar for dialogue has been set to a new low. In addition, Wiseau adds some lines of ridiculously un-subtle "philosophy" or "important" questions such as, "Do you understand life?"
Technically, The Room is a disaster. All shots on the rooftop are obviously green-screened (the weather mysteriously never changes and soft lines form around the outlines of the actors against the background) and there are continuity/logical errors that are mind-blowing. As someone at my screening of the film pointed out, why is Johnny and Lisa's TV covered by a chair? The exterior shots are randomly placed and rarely set up a new scene and the editing is incredibly awkward (the opening scene is the perfect example). In the opening scene, Johnny gives Lisa a new dress, she puts it on, and their neighbor/son-figure, Denny walks in. Upon entering, the camera focuses on him and he says, "Hey guys!" After that, the camera cuts to Lisa looking towards Denny at the door, then after an awkward pause, cuts to Johnny saying, "Oh hi Denny," in a way that only Wiseau can manage to say. Moments like these happen throughout the film. Also, there is no attention paid to the passage of time. For example, Johnny and Lisa go upstairs to have sex in the afternoon (Denny interrupts their pre-sex pillow fight: a prime example of a weird scene). When the scene is over, it is morning. Why this happens, I don't know.
There is no way to accurately describe just how bad this movie is and just how funny it is without seeing it for yourself. This is not a film to be seen at home. For maximum effect, it must be seen in a movie theater full of people with footballs and plastic spoons (you'll get the jokes if you see it). Many fans (myself included) love the film so much that they begin to recite lines from the movie with the characters. Seeing The Room in a crowed theater is an experience like no other. While a great cult film like The Rocky Horror Picture Show is extremely entertaining to view in a theater, it does not have the consistent laughs that The Room does or the consistent energy of the audience.
Overall, The Room is one of the hardest films to review because it is completely awful, but one of the most entertaining movies ever. From an entertainment standpoint, this film gets the full four stars from me, but from a critical standpoint, there is no doubt that this gets a zero. Do yourself a favor and watch this thing. Your life will be changed forever and you will be quoting it endlessly.