Feb 17 2010

The Room

Works of great cinematic art are a funny thing.  Often, they are the result of a brilliant script, fantastic direction and solid performances by able actors.  Sometimes, however, greatness can be achieved entirely by accident, or in spite of itself.  Such is the curious case of The Room.

The Room is about soon-to-be married couple Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) and Lisa (Juliette Danielle), and how their relationship quickly falls apart due to Lisa’s secret relationship with Tommy’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero).  As an audience member, you’re supposed to care what happens in the film; you will not care about this story in The Room.  The story is, more or less, an unintended macguffin that contains the greatest train wreck in cinematic history.

Where do I even begin?

Well, for one, there are 3 clumsy love scenes in the first 26 minutes of the movie, all to ultra-cheesy R&B music.  I don’t have much to say about this in particular, except that this has to be some kind of record, even by porno standards.

For one, the dialogue in this film is atrocious on a level I have never experienced.  All of the conversations never really go anywhere; things are brought up, then immediately brushed aside in one way or another.  Lisa frequently brings up her dying feelings for Johnny with her mother and BFF, than dismisses any questions thereafter, saying “I don’t want to talk about it.”  You don’t want to talk about it?  You brought it up!  Other discussions are usually interrupted by Denny, Johnny and Lisa’s goofy, plucky neighbor who often realizes he has somewhere else to be the moment he walks into the room.

Denny is actually rather instrumental to The Room because he instigates one of the most perplexing of unintentional gags in the film: football.  In the middle of discussions between the male characters, Denny often stumbles in with a football, in which everyone jumps up eagerly to toss the old pigskin around.  In one particularly bizarre scene, all the men in a scene play a game of football whilst wearing tuxedos.  There is never any explanation for why they are wearing tuxedos, they just are.

Impromptu games of football aren’t the only things that come from and go nowhere; characters and subplots are just as disposable.  One throwaway hit is a one-on-one between Lisa and her mother, in which the mother reveals she has breast cancer.  One would think a parent diagnosed with breast cancer would be, at the very least, add an extra layer of conflict in the film or its characters, but this discovery is announced and subsequently dismissed in the same breath, never to brought up again.

My favorite disappearing act lies with Peter, a friend of Johnny and Mark’s, who shows up out of nowhere in the middle of the film and vanishes shortly after a game of football.  Soon after, Steven, a man who we have never seen before, is lecturing Lisa about her dishonesty with Johnny, as if he’s some long lost friend whom the audience should have seen much earlier in the film.  Interesting tidbit: the actor who played Peter quit halfway through production, thus all of his later lines were given to a different actor/character.  Apparently, Wiseau told the new actor “Peter left.  Now you are like Peter, but you are Steven.”

Which brings us to Tommy Wiseau: writer, director, producer and star of this beautiful freak show of a movie.  Wiseau’s enthusiasm and sheer ambition are ever apparent throughout the film, which may be why this film rises above the likes of Manos: The Hands of Fate or Troll 2 (previously my favorite “so bad its good” film before I witnessed the glory of The Room).  Confidence has never been so misplaced; Wiseau’s acting is beyond terrible, beyond the grasp of “Razzies-bad” even.

Tommy Wiseau: Man, Myth, Legend

His line delivery and rhythm is choppy and idiosyncratic to a point where Christopher Walken sounds normal by comparison.  Wiseau sounds like he’s in a race to see who can spit their lines out the fastest; trouble is, he’s the only one playing.

Wiseau’s persistent optimism in his own abilities is almost dickensian in nature; this guy is so proud of his work regardless of its quality.  And why shouldn’t he be?  This film has been on tour across North America, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom since its theatrical debut.  While people travel far and wide to laugh at the film and subsequent Q&A session, Wiseau laughs all the way to the bank.  That’s right, Wiseau has made quite a bit of money off of midnight audiences’ affinity for comical irony.

As far as cult icons go, Tommy Wiseau is like a bizarro Orson Welles, and The Room is his Citizen Kane.  Like its prestigious predecessor, The Room has gone beyond bad cinema into a realm in which its incoherence is only matched by its absolute confidence.  With all of its flaws and flubs presented proudly on the big screen for all to see, what should be an unwatchable mess somehow becomes a great comedy of errors.  And thus, a serendipitous midnight masterpiece is born.

“The Room” will be playing at the Laemmle Sunset 5 in Hollywood on 27 February 2010 at 11:55pm.

Scene from \”The Room\”

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