The Room (Tommy Wiseau, 2003)

There was an episode of “The Simpsons” once where the family had to take care of Burns Manor while Mr. Burns went to the Mayo Clinic for a physical.  After a battery of tests, the doctor diagnoses the 104-year old C. Montgomery Burns with what he called Three Stooges Syndrome.  Quite simply, Mr. Burns had everything: every disease known to man, including juvenile diabetes, but the reason he wasn’t dropping dead on the spot is that all of those diseases were so crowded within his body, all crammed together and immobile, that they were canceling each other out.  No one disease was able to break apart from the pack and do in the centenarian owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, as they were all cramming to get out of the door but just ending up in a jumbled mess a la the Three Stooges.  This doesn’t make Mr. Burns indestructible, despite what he might say, but his bevy of diseases negating each other through sheer quantity did give him the appearance of a relatively healthy, albeit very old, man.

This is “The Room.”

Substitute the body of Montgomery Burns for the piece of celluloid that is “The Room” and bodily diseases with things that make a film go wrong, and “The Room” is patient zero when considering films that suffer from Three Stooges Syndrome.  Its flaws are so many, so obvious, and so inherent that “The Room,” believe it or not, cannot in any way, shape or form be considered the worst film ever made.  Quite simply, it’s so flawed, it’s sublime.  Whether or not director/producer/writer/star Tommy Wiseau (yes, insert Edward D. Wood, Jr. comparison here) intended to make this film as hysterical as it is (which he claims to have done, but only after it became a cult phenomenon, so obviously that claim is tough to buy), there’s just so many things you can point to that would indicate an awful movie that they cancel each other out.  Or rather, they work together to achieve a truly, truly unique whole, achieving a bizarre kind of greatness in which 8 billion wrongs apparently make a right.  The Dos Equis Man might be the most interesting man in the world, but “The Room” may very well be the most interesting film in the world.

For me to describe “The Room” and its flaws in detail would be a complete and utter disservice to a potential viewer, for the ultimate joy in watching this film is going in relatively blind and being surprised, shocked, and overwhelmed by every facet of it with no knowledge of it beforehand, so I’ll try to be brief and only mention a few generalities.  Overall, the production value is, of course, laughable.  The cinematography, apparently done in both high-definition and 35 mm because Wiseau was confused about the differences between the two (LMAO!), the costumes, and the two or three shoddy sets that comprise the entire film bring to mind a 90210 episode.  Plot holes abound as events that you’d consider to be life-altering situations are briefly mentioned and never touched upon again, concerning such things as breast cancer, a young neighbor’s apparent drug use and run-in with a crazed dealer, some nerdy douche who takes a spill trying to catch a football and then is never seen again, and another douche who ingratiates himself in the complications arising out of the film’s weird love triangle as if he’s been an integral character from film’s beginning (needless to say, we’ve never seen him before).  Other than that, there’s pretty much just lots of establishing shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and Wiseau wandering throughout the city like a hunched-over bum who shuffles along and talks to himself, and footballs – lots and lots and lots of close-quarters football.  The acting, as if it needed to be said, is awful – worse and more forced than porn, worse and more forced than those little plays you’d put on in small groups of four in the second grade.  You know what?  This movie is porn.  It’s porn without the porn.  Like a porn, the plot is irrelevant – Wiseau just went with the basic concept of a manipulative girl cheating on her ne’er-do-wrong fiancé with his best friend and ends up getting mired in a bizarre world of apartments that look like the showroom at Fortunoff and robots who speak in monotone and are obsessed with sex and throwing footballs around and worrying more about the rent than having breast cancer.  The acting and the sets are no better than a porn, and instead of actual sex, we get soft-lit scenes of Lisa getting her neck kissed for about ten minutes while her tits are hanging out and the porn-esque R&B music is blaring.  You gotta wonder whether this was a porn in its original incarnation, and then that fell through so then Wiseau saw his opportunity to make his Citizen Kane and just replaced the sex scenes with toned-down necking, ‘cuz it really is porn without the hardcore sex.  In that case, I’d disregard it.  But if Wiseau really did personally raise $6 million to finance his grand opus, and this is what came out, Tommy Wiseau is either an absolute loon, a mad genius, or both.  I’m going with both.

And that brings us to Wiseau himself.  How can I describe this epic performance?  He looks like a hunched-over combination of Quasimodo, Gollum and Wormtongue, or maybe like Fabio if Fabio dyed his long hair black and curled it and then went to sleep in a deep fryer.  He has some kind of indistinguishable Eastern European accent that sounds like a bad impression of the Festrunk Brothers from Saturday Night Live (“We are two WILD AND CRAZY GUYS!”), and employs the catchphrase to end all catchphrases again and again and again that I won’t spoil here.  And like everyone else in this movie, his sudden mood shifts at the snap of a finger are truly and utterly bizarre – distraught and talking to himself one moment, completely cool and saying hello to his friend a microsecond later.  Wiseau the actor is reason enough to bask in the eccentric glory of this movie, but Wiseau the director and writer is simply otherworldly.  It’s bad enough that select scenes directly plagiarize “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Citizen Kane,” but when one of your movie’s centerpieces includes your own naked ass while you make love in a lame attempt at pseudo-porn, as if you’re a fucking Casanova and not the homunculus that you really are, and then you frame yourself as the biggest martyr since Jesus when cheating girlfriend and traitorous best friend and everyone in-between gangs up on you, the saintly banker with weird hair and pockmarks, clearly Mr. Wiseau’s ego rivals even that of the late Michael Jackson in the infamous ode to his massive ego, “Moonwalker.”  I mean my god, Wiseau’s hatred and mistrust of women and self-vanity and ego and complete lack of an ear for natural dialogue and progression of a screenplay and realistic situations fucking BLEEDS from this movie.  Bask in it, friends.  Bask in it. 

“So bad it’s good” is a ridiculously overused cliché by now, but “The Room” is the posterchild.  It is so flawed, so shoddily made and acted, so reprehensible in its apparent themes and saintliness of one character and utter depravity of another, and just so odd, that it truly is the black comedy that Tommy Wiseau claims it to be.  I laughed during it, I laughed hysterically long after it was over just looking at a picture of Wiseau in his big James Dean moment to the point that I couldn’t fall asleep, and now I want to rewatch it.  Very, very few films have ever entertained me like this one has – for all the wrong reasons, sure, but turns out that when every single facet of a film – acting, sets, cinematography, screenplay, costumes, music, Wiseau – achieves a state of awfulness previously thought impossible, the result is a nightmarish otherworld that the likes of David Lynch and Luis Buñuel could only dream of concocting.  When I puke after drinking too much and my puke looks like the Queen of England, I don’t mean for that to happen, but that act of beauty just happens without rhyme or reason.  I’m sure Tommy Wiseau didn’t mean to make a bizarre feat of surrealist comedy when he amassed a small fortune to make a heartfelt melodrama (now where that $6 million went is anybody’s guess…), but it just happened.  This might the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen.


3 comments so far

  1. Tommy on

    I loved this movie!!!

  2. Mark O. Hiiii on

    “now where that $6 million went is anybody’s guess”

    That raises a good question. Do ya think Wiseau might have actually done a “Springtime for Hitler” on all of us? 6 mil is one HELL of a lot of dough to plunk down on a film with such shoddy production values. How did he manage to get the cash anyway? If he got it from seducing old ladies, I’m quite surprised. If I was a little old lady I’d much rather sleep with Zero Mostel (may he rest in peace) than this Eurotrash knucklehead!

  3. stonedestix on

    Have you seen the Room twice? You can’t get it all if youonly see it once, it is too deep.

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