Unable to shake my obsession with compiling end of the decade lists, I’ve decided to compile another. After taking a brief sabbatical to lick the wounds I endured via a string of grammatically poor and incorrectly assumptive insults from Dredg fans, I’m back with a new list which would likely be the bastard child created if my best movies and worst things of the decade lists had contraception free intercourse.
The result is this, my loving tribute to the 2003 film The Room, a film so startlingly incompetent in its execution it is one of the oh so rare entertainment nuggets that truly does have to be seen to be believed.
The Room is a simple enough story: a man is betrayed when his best friend starts sleeping with his backstabbing “future wife.” Now this plot doesn’t seem as if it’s ambitious enough to become modern cinema’s biggest train wreck, and it would take a truly “special” talent to achieve such an accomplishment. Luckily (or unluckily, however you choose to see it), star, writer, director and producer Tommy Wiseau is such a talent.
It’s hard to pinpoint which skill the jack-of-all-trades Wiseau puts forth on a most electrifying scale, but I will do my best to accurately portray the miraculous skills of this once-in-a-lifetime find.
There’s the script. I cannot calculate how many times me and my friends have sat around telling each other to “leave your stupid comments in your pocket,” or uttered generic introductory greetings like “hi” and “hey,” over and over and over and over again and thought to ourselves, “why don’t characters in the movies talk like this?” Well, after viewing The Room, my days of blasting screenwriters for being out of touch with the way real people communicate are over. If you are doubtful of the punch the dialogue of The Room possesses, here’s an oh, so delicious taste (fair warning, there are several more YouTube clips coming).
There’s the direction. The DVD synopsis claims this movie to be “uninhibited by cinematic convention.” This seems to serve as justification for actions such as abruptly introducing plot lines (breast cancer, drug addiction, etc.) then never mentioning them again.
The feather in Wiseau’s filmmaking cap comes about three-quarters of the way through. After the girlfriend/best friend affair is revealed, a mutual acquaintance steps in and announces he won’t let this affair break their circle apart. This is significant because the character giving this speech has literally just appeared on camera for the first time! We don’t know his name, who he is, or why he’s even there (apparently one of the actors quit and it was understandably simpler to replace the quitter with someone who looks nothing like him as opposed to doing re-shoots). Wiseau the director is either an idiot or way ahead of his time.
Despite the sluggish at best results with the script and direction, Wiseau the actor is the most memorable part of this film. Aside from ignoring traditional cinematic structure, he also seems uninhibited by basic principals of the English language. He seems incapable of conducting basic conversations, as he talks over people and seems unable to grasp the concept of pausing between sentences so as to allow people to understand what you’re trying to say.
Naturally this leads to some clunky dramatic moments, such as the movie’s most infamous scene, as well as my personal favorite scene, which I actually rewound and watched about six times on my initial viewing.
The Room has established a fairly big cult following at sold-out midnight shows around the country where smart alec audience members sarcastically mock it. I personally have never been to such a show, and while I can see the potential fun that could be had by people who have seen it several times, I can’t imagine it would be a good way to see this movie for the first time. To truly grasp the awesome awfulness of this movie, the first viewing should be conducted in a distraction free environment.
I don’t want to send mixed signals when I encourage people to see this movie, so let me stress this: it’s awful. Awful. It’s truly one of the most incompetent movies that has ever been made and if you are unable to find joy out of watching horrifically bad movies, then you absolutely should not watch The Room under any circumstance.
However, if you do like watching a massive cinematic pileup unfold before your very eyes, this is an absolute must see. Part of me is a bit resentful in knowing this was made, thus permanently shelving a potentially great movie, but it would be dishonest of me to claim said resentment didn’t prevent me from enjoying the hell out of this movie.
While this decade did produce a few memorably bad films such Battlefield Earth and Alone In The Dark, those movies were ultimately too boring to actually be worth enduring. Appallingly bad as The Room is, it’s not boring (aside from, oddly enough, its love scenes, which should be shown to young kids as an abstinence tool. The dull way sex is presented in this movie is far more terrifying than any picture of STD infested genitals I’ve ever seen). In the world of cinematic trash, this movie is a glowing achievement, and well deserving of its reputation as “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.”