Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) has it all: a successful banking job, loyal best friend Mark (Greg Sestero) and fiance – aka “future wife” – Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Despite their seemingly idyllic life, Lisa has become increasingly dissatisfied with her relationship with Johnny and begins having an affair with Mark, although he’s reluctant at first.
As the wedding date approaches, Johnny begins to lose his pull at the bank while also growing more and more suspicious of his best friend and future wife.
Originating as a play, The Room was then adapted into a 500-page book by Tommy Wiseau himself. Since he could not get it published (one can only wonder why), Wiseau then decided to adapt it into a film on his own. Earning money by allegedly importing leather jackets from Korea, he eventually made the $6 million needed to create the film. Although Wiseau states the expensive budget was due to replacing many of the cast and crew, watching any of this film still begs the question: Where the hell did all that money go?
For the record, if you combined the budgets of Rocky, The Evil Dead, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, The Blair Witch Project, and Paranormal Activity, you would still come out with less than what The Room was apparently made for.
Where to begin?
From the head-scratching editing choices, the soundtrack that meanders back and forth between poorly mixed R&B and a Renaissance Fair, “naval sex” , the laughable acting, the laughable dialogue (“I have to go see Michelle… to make out with her.”), the breast cancer, Mike’s “tragedy”, Denny’s drug problem and, of course, the football (the best performance in the film), this film is so random and incomprehensible, it’s nearly impossible to describe just what exactly is appealing about this film. One thing’s for certain: it’s even more impossible to look away once it starts rolling.
Don’t get me wrong. This film is bad. Very bad. So bad it circles around excellent and then back to bad… twice. The best of the worst anyone has ever made. It’s also the most unintentionally hilarious film you’ll ever see, and I simply can’t emphasize unintentionally enough. I’ll even go a step further, and I don’t say this as a joke. This film must be shown in film classes, so students can see what not to do. Directing, writing, story, acting, editing, cinematography, soundtrack, it’s all there for you, cautionary filming advice packed into one movie.
Right from the very start, we’re introduced to a number of unconnected characters in a number of unconnected scenes that have no purpose in this film other than to have you utter, “Wait… what?” When we first meet Lisa’s mother Claudette, she – rather nonchalantly – tells her daughter that she does in fact have breast cancer (a very common “by the way” topic). I don’t know what’s worse, the story never ever bringing Claudette’s breast cancer up again, or Lisa’s even more nonchalant, “daughter of the year” response. Maybe she’s got it coming though when she’s delivering such sound and sage advice as telling Lisa that all men are assholes, men and women abuse each other and there’s nothing wrong with it and that marriage has nothing to do with love. Oddly enough, this women is the moral compass of the film if that says anything for you.
You know, I should try the same at the next Marlatt family White Elephant Christmas. “Oh, yeah, guys… so I got the test results back. Looks like I got cancer. I got about two months left… So it’s my turn to pick a gift now?”
Then we have Denny. When he’s not pervertedly asking Johnny’s girlfriend to kiss him or wanting to watch Johnny and Lisa having sex, he’s somehow in debt to Chris-R, his drug dealer. We never once beforehand get the impression that Denny’s on drugs and we’re certainly never reminded afterward of such a trivial event as an angry dealer demanding his money back while holding a gun to Denny’s head. It’s just that one moment, out of the blue, almost like an entirely different film, where it pops up. It’s one thing to move on, it’s another to act like it never happened, but hey, it’s fun to watch that ham-fisted and emotionally over-the-top car crash play out.
Finally, we got the heart of the story: the Johnny-Lisa-Mark love triangle. For once, I can actually admit Twilight is a better love story. At the very least, Bella, Jacob and Edward never insistently pounded us over the head like the former trio do with “Lisa’s my future wife.”, “I’m not in love with Johnny anymore.” and “Look… Johnny’s my best friend.” You could even turn it into a drinking game. Then again, excessive alcohol poisoning is a serious problem not to be trifled with. It’s almost on par with the tragedy that is Mike’s underwear situation.
Twilight would’ve been much better though if Edward got a chance to shout, “You’re turring me apahhht, Bella!!”
By the way, to any of you that may be wondering if that’s Wiseau’s actual accent, watch some interviews. It is. It’s like Dr. Nick Riviera (Haiiii, everybodyyyyy!!) had an orgy with Christopher Walken, John Travolta and Borat, and somehow a baby was conceived… which survived the abortion.
What more can I say? If you think I gave away too much, believe me, I’ve barely scraped the tip of the iceberg. I haven’t even touched on moments such as the guys playing football in tuxes, the horribly awkward and long sex sequences with moaning that is clearly overdubbed, and the infamous “Where did Peter go and who’s this Steven guy?” transition. All I know is, you’ll be left wondering why. Why does Denny first say he’s in love with Lisa (to an unfazed Johnny), then immediately afterward say he wants to marry Elizabeth and have kids with her? Why does the film make a monumental big deal of Mark shaving, with all it’s crescendoed music and slow zoom in on his face when he enters the door? Why the hell does Lisa keep insisting she doesn’t wanna talk about it when she’s the one that brought the topic up to begin with? Why do Mike and Michelle feel they have to sneak into Johnny’s house to have sex? More importantly, why does Johnny respond to Mike’s situation like he doesn’t care? They’re tainting your house, dude! Why does Johnny tell Mark his business matters are confidential then follows that with asking Mark how his sex life is?! Why? Why? Why?!
Is Wiseau in on the joke here? He’s retroactively trying to make it seem that way by describing The Room as a “black comedy”, but really? I find it hard to believe that Wiseau – the self-aggrandizer of all self-aggrandizers – didn’t intend for this film to be as earnest and serious as it tries to be. That’s what makes this film the best of the worst. Films like Troll 2 and Plan 9 From Outer Space are bad, but you can automatically tell you’re in for something ridiculous with those films from the get-go. The Room takes itself and its ADD storyline so seriously, it exceeds all other best-worst films by a mile, light years even. I’ve now seen this film three times and with each viewing it gets more ridiculous and funny. The questions it raises haven’t been answered yet, and I have a feeling they never will. In the end, I just enjoy the incomprehensible question mark of a car wreck that it is.
Oh… now I see why it wasn’t published.