Movie: "The Room"
Genre: Cult / B-Movie
Directed by: Tommy Wiseau
Writing credits: Tommy Wiseau
Plot: Johnny's "future wife" (not fiancée) Lisa decides she doesn't like him anymore and has an affair with his best friend Mark, which causes relationships to crumble as the truth comes out.
Review: The Room is easily among the worst movies I have ever seen--everything about it, from the acting, to the directing, to the script is just mind-blowingly awful on every conceivable level--but it falls so comfortably into the "so bad it's good" category it is utterly fascinating and enjoyable to watch--as long as you have other people to laugh with (watching it alone I would expect the Lovecraftian horrors to whisk you away to some other dimension). Apparently this movie has quite a cult following, with regular midnight showings in Los Angeles and New York, where many members of the audience have seen the movie a dozen times or more.
Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, and starred in this remarkable "vision", and after the initial titles set to shots of San Francisco are over, it takes all of ten seconds to realize that you're in for something special, as Tommy's character Johnny (I would swear one actor even calls him "Tommy" during the final scene of the film) walks into his home to awkwardly greet his "future wife" in a bizarre accent that nobody I know has been able to place. When you combine his accent with his remarkably awkward behavior, it seems that Mr. Wiseau is from another planet entirely. Apart from the accent, the most striking thing as he walks in is his unbelievable haircut. It's as if every lock of his long hair is a completely different length.
The dialog between Tommy and his "future wife" Lisa is almost unbearable--and would be, if it wasn't so damned funny. Nearly all of the dialog in this movie is so hilariously bad that it's hard to imagine it's not by Wiseau's design, but as you watch this movie you just know that it was all done in earnest, despite Wiseau's efforts to remarket the movie as a "black comedy" with hopes of generating some sales (and a few shreds of dignity). The dialog often contradicts itself from one line to the next--in one scene Lisa complains on the phone to the man she's cheating on her fiancee with, saying that she's tired of her mother telling her what to do with regard to her marriage plans and that she's going to do what she wants, after which she immediately asks her lover what he thinks she should do. "Don't worry about it, everything's going to be fine," becomes the default response to everything, from the fact that Lisa doesn't love Johnny anymore, to her mother's breast cancer diagnosis, to the thug who threatens the life of a friend for drug money. You hear that response (or some variation of it) so often you could easily make a drinking game out of that alone.
And then there's Johnny's salutations, which are so awkwardly delivered you can find clips of many of them on YouTube. One of the funniest bits in the movie is when Johnny, angry that Lisa has lied and accused him of hitting her, storms up to the roof in anger, ranting about how he never did any such thing. Immediately after throwing his empty plastic water bottle in a rage and making a face that my friend Jack described as looking like the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz, he turns to notice his friend Mark (who is actually the one betraying him by sleeping with Lisa) sitting up on the roof, and his anger immediately morphs into a cheerful greeting. The bit in the flower shop early in the film is like watching an alien, or a man grown to full-size in a giant test tube and just released into the world, interacting with humans (and a dog) for the first time.
There's another awkward scene where Johnny, Mark, his unofficially adopted son and neighbor Denny, and their psychiatrist friend Peter all get together at Johnny's house wearing tuxedos. At this point, I logically assumed that Johnny and Lisa's wedding was about to take place, but apparently they were just trying on the tuxedos, because they then went out into the street to play football (which they do several times in the movie, by standing about five feet apart and in a strange combination of physical laziness but vocal enthusiasm, they toss the ball to one another), and in the next scene Mark and Johnny are at a Starbucks together, where Johnny changes the topic of conversation by asking Mark about his sex life out of the blue.
There are a few subplots introduced for no reason and that never go anywhere, like Lisa's mother being diagnosed with breast cancer, Denny getting physically threatened over drug money that he owes to a street thug, and Denny realizing that he's in love with Lisa. In another strange creative choice, the characters frequently go up to their apartment building's rooftop to hang out, which is portrayed by use of a terribly unconvincing green screen for no reason I can discern, as using a green screen surely must have been far more costly than filming on an actual rooftop somewhere.
The title of the movie, The Room seems randomly chosen, as it doesn't relate to anything in the movie (apart from the fact that there are rooms in it) and even after Wiseau explains his decision to name it that in a hilarious DVD interview extra, you still won't understand why it's called that. And the DVD cover image is equally incongruous--it's simply an extreme close-up shot of Wiseau's face, looking drunk and/or drugged out of his mind. The trailers viewable on the DVD contain quotes such as "The Best Movie of the Year" and saying that The Room was made with "the passion of Tennessee Williams", although the quotes aren't attributed to anyone, so you know that Wiseau just made them up himself and tacked them onto the trailer.
If you wanted to convey the concept of "awkwardness" to someone completely unfamiliar with it, this movie would be one of the best ways to do so. For those of you who appreciate bad cinema, this is a real gem that shouldn't be missed. There's so much more I could discuss here, but if I've piqued your curiosity you should discover the rest for yourself. I know I've given it the lowest possible rating on here (which is well deserved), but I should also point out that if you think of these ratings as a loop, half a pickle is as close to five from one direction as you can get.
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)
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