Oh hai reader. Last Saturday, I attended a midnight showing of the cult classic, The Room. This is how it went.
Johnny is your average Joe with a perfect life, a secure job, and a beautiful (snicker) fiancée named Lisa. When they’re not making sweet, hot whoopi, Lisa is secretly having an affair with Johnny’s best friend Mark. Meanwhile, Lisa’s mother laments how nobody cares about her anymore, and their neighbor Denny has trouble paying for his college tuition when he’s not watching Johnny and Lisa make love (gag). And while that’s all happening, this weird couple comes into their apartment and decide to have sex on their couch (although I’ll hand it to them, that guy has the best blowjob face ever). Okay, you know what? There’s no way in Hell I can explain this movie without making it sound like crap. So I might as well just get it all out in the open.
Nothing about this movie works. At all.
The writing, if that plot summary wasn’t a giveaway, is complete dog shit. There are dozens of pointless plot lines that get picked up out of nowhere and almost none of them ever get resolved by the end of the movie. And none of them have anything to do with the main plot of Lisa cheating on her fiancée with his best friend, which is so flimsy and poorly handled that you’d think Tommy Wiseau wrote it while in the fifth grade, forgot about it, dug it up from an old journal he found in his attic and decided to make a movie out of it.
The characters are all one dimensional dumbasses. Johnny is a clueless moron that everyone, for some reason, thinks is a saint despite not really accomplishing anything too astounding and would frighten everyone he meets in reality. Lisa is a sociopathic bitch who has no remorse or consideration for the consequences of her actions. Denny is a scary kid with a seven year itch and worse social skills than L from Death Note. (And he kind of looks like Kurt from Glee.) Mark is a culmination of the worst traits of Johnny and Lisa. Like Johnny, he’s absolutely clueless as to what’s going on, and like Lisa, he keeps flip-flopping between loyalties. The rest of the cast is so one-note and irrelevant to the plot that they’re not even worth analyzing.
The acting is some of the worse you’ll ever find. Tommy Wiseau himself reminds me of an alien who decided to vacation on Earth and blend in with us humans, but got stuck with a bodysuit that looks like a bizarre hybrid of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Fabio. (By the way, if you ever play The Room Tribute Game on Newgrounds, this is actually true.) The rest of the actors are all pretty stiff and bland, but I’m pretty sure that’s just because they’re working with such a shitty script. Don’t get me wrong, they all suck, but it’s Tommy Wiseau’s confusing acting style that jumps out.
The editing and cinematography is filled with inconsistencies. There are countless moments where the picture goes out of focus, there are times when things in the background (and sometimes even the foreground) get moved around in between cuts, there are moments when a scene cuts to random scenery shots of San Francisco, and probably the most incoherent use of green screen and inexplicable use of dubbing I’ve ever seen in my life.
But all of this doesn’t matter. You know why? Because this movie is just so damn fun to watch.
The way I see it, there are three kinds of bad movies. First there are the simply forgettable ones, which are basically so unimpressive and unremarkable that you’ll forget all about them the day after you saw it. A good example would be… uhhh… mmm… hm, I can’t really think of any. The second kind of bad movie is the “so bad that they’re awful”. Everyone knows they’re bad, but no matter how much we want to forget them, their awfulness is embedded into the psyche of anyone unfortunate enough to actually watch it. This is where you’ll find movies like Battlefield Earth, Showgirls, Gigli, the Seltzerberg movies and so on. And then we have the coveted “so bad it’s good” movies. These are the bad movies that people actually want to see for their campiness and laughably bad writing, acting, dialogue, effects, what have you. Most of these movies end up becoming cult classics like Plan 9 from Outer Space, Troll 2, and my all time favorite bad movie, The Wicker Man. The Room strictly belongs in the last category.
Tommy Wiseau, the writer, director, producer, star and all around brains behind The Room is the modern day Ed Wood. What he lacks in talent he more than makes up for in innocence, passion and enthusiasm. Nobody knows anything personally about the ambiguously European auteur, like where he’s from, how old he is, whether or not he genuinely thinks he’s the next Orson Welles, or if he’s well aware of how awful his movie is and decided to just roll with it. And since Wiseau has been incredibly secretive about the production of the film, there has been a lot of speculation and mythos surrounding what actually went on behind the scenes. Nobody knows how he got the money to finance the film, most of the cast and crew had been fired and replaced by the end of filming, and there’s even dispute about whether Wiseau was actually directing the second half of the movie. Whether this was a horribly misguided attempt to make a genuine film or a perfectly calculated disaster is up for debate, but whatever the cause, it doesn’t distract from the film’s genius.
The experience of seeing it in a room full of people also completely saves this movie. Going to see The Room is just like going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but on a much grander scale. People come in costume, everyone is shouting riffs at the screen like it’s a free for all Mystery Science Theater, and it becomes an all-around participatory event. For almost everything that happens, there is an initial response. For example, whenever a framed picture of a spoon appears onscreen, plastic spoons start flying all over the place. When characters star tossing a football around, audience members pull out their own footballs and start playing catch. Not to mention all the line shouting, the slow clapping, the encouragement of the Golden Gate Bridge, and randomly bursting into the Full House theme song.
Bad movies have a certain place in modern culture. While the general public might be a bit oblivious to what’s good and what’s bad (How else can you explain the success of the Twilight saga?), there’s a certain subsection of society that is not only aware of how bad these movies are, but ironically embraces and celebrates them for their campiness, unintentional hilarity, and all around incompetence. It’s because of these movies that Mystery Science Theater 3000, RiffTrax, the Razzie Awards, and a good chunk of the reviewers at ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com all exist and have careers. The Room holds a special place in the realm of bad movies as among its holy relics (or unholy, depending on your viewpoint). It took the standards that Ed Wood set 50 years ago and broke all the scales. With a cult following including celebrities like Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, Patton Oswalt, Frank Black and Alec Baldwin, it’s established itself as the bad movie that all future bad movies should set their standards by. After all, without bad movies, how will we know what’s good?
Final conclusion: GO SEE THIS MOVIE! Even if you have to drive halfway across the state to do it, it’ll be well worth the gas. Bring your friends. Tell your friends to bring their friends. And don’t forget to bring lots and lots of spoons.