Wednesday, November 14, 2012

let's talk about The Room.

The Room is the greatest film of all time.

I realize that this is a rather bold statement to make, I have no qualms in doing so. Allow me to clarify right off the bat, though: The Room is the greatest film of all time only because it’s so bad. Mind-numbingly bad, but in such a way that watching it is simply hilarious once you figure out that yes, they’re for real.

The plot is your basic girl-having-affair-with-fiancée’s-best-friend situation, but The Room takes this cliché to another level: nonsensical garbage peppered with bad acting and terrible dialogue.

This 2003 production stars director/writer/producer Tommy Wiseau as Johnny, a successful something-or-other with a “fantastic” life. He’s got an apartment in San Francisco (as we know from the endless spanning shots of the Golden Gate Bridge) and a really swell girlfriend named Lisa (played by Juliet Danielle). Little does he know, Lisa really isn’t that great: not only is she one of the least attractive leading ladies I’ve ever seen, but she’s cheating on Johnny with his better-looking best friend Mark (played by the possibly plastic Greg Sestero). Toss in a random neighborhood kid named Denny, a bossy mother with cancer (which is only mentioned once in passing), some drug problems (which are also only mentioned once), and a truly awful soundtrack, and you’ve got The Room.
From left: Lisa, Johnny, Denny, and Mark. You will enjoy
this article more now that you know what they look like.
The movie begins with Johnny bringing Lisa a red dress, and the dialogue rockets right into the uncomfortable sentences you will come to expect: “Wow, you look so sexy, Lisa… anything for my princess!” Of course, this leads to some really disgusting kissing, which leads them up to the bedroom. At this time, Denny the random neighbor kid bursts in, joins the sexy foreplay pillow fight, and declares, “I just like to watch you guys” – a mere five minutes into the movie.
Not making this up.
This is only one of four terrifying sex scenes: terrifying mostly because of what the two leads look like. All four scenes involve Lisa, who is not much of a looker. Her hair does not match her eyebrows, and there’s something about her mouth/nose combination that just does not work.
No, she did NOT just have her wisdom teeth taken out.
With the snotty personality to seal the deal, it’s a wonder she got one guy, let alone two. Johnny is involved in two of the four sex scenes, and he’s got a face like the love child of Bela Lugosi and a shar pei. 
It’s also worth mentioning that both sex scenes with Johnny use about 90% of the same footage. Mark, who is responsible for the other two scenes with Lisa, is the best looking of the trio, if you don’t mind an expressionless face and a baby mullet.
He's dead inside.
The thing that really pushes these sex scenes over the edge is the music. Each scene is as long as its accompanying background song, which about as well written as you would expect. One employs such stunningly original lyrics as “you are my rose, you are my rose, you are my rose,” while another wails, “I would stand in the way of a bullet/I would run through a forest of flame.”

The plot is weak, at best. Nothing lines up, and major plot points seem to get thrown in and quickly brushed off. In addition to all this monkey business involving affairs, Lisa’s overbearing mother (is there any other kind in movies like this?) randomly and casually mentions that she has breast cancer. This is the one and only time that it is mentioned. The neighbor kid almost gets tossed off a roof for not having money for a drug dealer. Luckily, Johnny and Mark arrive JUST IN TIME to pull the drug dealer off Denny and TAKE HIM TO JAIL. Whew. That’s the end of that. And let’s not forget Lisa suddenly claiming that Johnny “got drunk last night… and he hit [her].” Four outfits later, it was still “last night.”

The following clip is only nineteen seconds long, but watching it will give you a perfect idea of what The Room is all about. The lines are off, and there really is no point to it - like much of the movie. (The fat pug sitting on the counter is the only thing holding this scene together.)

Oh, and did I mention that Lisa is pregnant? But not really. She tells Johnny that she’s pregnant, and he happily announces it to a group of their friends. Two of Lisa’s friends are aware of the affair she’s having with Mark, so they pull her aside and ask her whose baby it is. Lisa snottily states that she only told Johnny that she was pregnant to “make it interesting” and justified doing so by saying, “We’re probably going to have a baby eventually anyway.” No matter if a baby doesn’t show up in nine months – since they’ll have a baby “eventually,” Johnny will never suspect a thing, right?

The dialogue, though, is what puts this movie over the edge from “bad” to “amazingly bad, and therefore awesome.” To begin with, Tommy Wiseau has the strangest accent of anyone I’ve ever heard. There’s really no way to describe it. When he says “sure, it’s yours” in reference to Lisa’s red dress, it comes out as “shurr, iss yurrrrs.” The rest of his dialogue is peppered with such gems as “if a lot of people loved each other, the world would be better place to live.” Slurrily delivered by Tommy Wiseau, it comes out more like “eef da lot uf peepul luhved eech odder, da worr would be a beddah place to leev.” And this is supposed to be a great moment in the movie, showing how deep the character of Johnny is. Really, Johnny? If people were nicer to each other, the WHOLE WORLD woud be nicer?!! NO WAY!! Tommy’s speech oddities and gag-inducing lines are the least of the worries, though. None of the actors have any discernible talent – I firmly believe that even Pauly Shore could act circles around each and every one.

The script itself seems to have been written by a gaggle of giggly pre-teens on a sugar high and with little or no insight as to how real couples and friends interact. The phrase “Johnny’s my best friend” is used no less than fifteen times, as is “I don’t love him anymore.” Every time someone enters a room, they are greeted with "Oh hi," generally a few beats too late. And let's not forget the initial seduction of Mark! Lisa’s first attempt to seduce Mark is one huge cliché, right down to the candles, champagne, and Lisa removing articles of clothing, saying breathily, “It’s hot in here.” Mark, of course, doesn’t get it. 

The end of the movie is properly soap opera-esque. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will tell you that you really won’t be that surprised. 

The funniest part is that Tommy Wiseau thinks that this is absolute genius. He believes that “everyone in America” should see this film, but we “must see it twice” – because we poor simpletons won’t get it the first time.

Since its release nearly a decade ago, The Room has been elevated to something of a cult status. They’ve been having midnight showings in San Francisco for years, and much to my absolute joy, Minneapolis has done the same. I first went to a midnight showing of The Room on my 23rd birthday. James, ever the good sport, took me, and it was HILARIOUS. There was actual audience participation! There are a number of scenes where Johnny and a handful of his friends are standing about two feet apart, tossing a football back and forth. 
Moviegoers actually bring footballs and throw them around during such scenes. The other major audience participation comes in the form of plastic spoons. In Johnny and Lisa’s apartment, there’s some curious art: a framed picture of a spoon. It shows up ALL THE TIME, so whenever you see it, you’re supposed to throw plastic spoons at the screen.

In November of 2010, something incredible happened: Tommy Wiseau came to Minneapolis to attend a midnight showing of The Room. I begged James to come with me, and he reluctantly agreed. (I think I had to buy him off with dinner.) I got to meet Tommy Wiseau himself, accompanied by the fake-baked Greg Sestero. It was AWESOME.
Life = complete.
All in all, this movie is unbelievable. It has brightened up my day each time I have watched it, and I’m always discovering new ridiculous tidbits that I hadn’t seen before. I share it with friends, who are stunned that such a travesty could exist. I wish I would’ve kept track of how many times I’ve seen this film… but at the same time, I think I’m glad I didn’t. I have never watched it alone, though: The Room is only good when shared. So after all this, if you’d like to experience it for yourself, I’d be more than happy to watch it with you. I’ll bring the popcorn.

No comments:

Post a Comment