In anticipation of the The Disaster Artist, which is an adaption of 2013’s tell-all of the same name recounting Greg Sestero’s experiences working alo
In anticipation of the The Disaster Artist, which is an adaption of 2013’s tell-all of the same name recounting Greg Sestero’s experiences working alongside Tommy Wiseau in the now infamous movie, The Room, I wanted to revisit the film itself before exploring the new chapter. I hope to initiate this, hopefully, new cinematic universe with a review I had written a year prior on my fifth watch of the film. I have now reached eight viewings and much like a fine wine this work only gets better with age.
“You are tearing me apart, Lisa!”, a line exclaimed by cinematic hero Johnny, truly encapsulates everything this movie stands for. Much like love can be torn apart, so can trains, and this 99 minute trainwreck is one you’re not going to be able to pry your eyes off.
2003’s The Room, written, directed, executive produced, starring Tommy Wiseau proves that when burning a candle at both ends, maybe you shouldn’t light the candle in the first place before succumbing to its fiery hellflame. Tommy Wiseau insists the film is based on a book of which he is the author, but there is no substantive evidence to support his claim, or that he knows how to read. The film follows our protagonist, Johnny, a San Franciscan that has it all; a house, an incoming promotion at his job as a “banker”, a loyal best friend, and a fiancee who loves him… or so he thought. His world crumbles around him in a tragic yet utterly confusing mess as his best friend and future wife kindle an affair.
On a broader scale, the plot might sound like an interesting character study focusing on an almost Greek tragic hero and his fall from grace, but instead, we are met with loosely tied together scenes of Johnny entertaining a rotating cast of quirky characters; the majority of which aren’t given a lick of exposition, and just kind of show up at his house as if they have always been there. You might rewind to check if you missed the scene where they introduced Johnny’s close therapist friend Peter, but alas, no such scene exists.
The film notoriously features a number of scattered subplots that were either forgotten directly after filming them or cut out in favor of a ten minute long montage of two guys running around a park and tossing a football; chuckling from a prerecorded soundstage like they are on the set of Friends. Most notably forgotten of these transient subplots, coming and going as they please, possibly never to return is Lisa’s mother having cancer or Denny, Johnny’s non-biological financial dependent, and his drug problem all are brought up and just as quickly forgotten.
The film follows Johnny “Tommy Wiseau,” our protagonist. He speaks like a drunk Croatian cyborg but moves like a stiff towel, and his best friend Mark. Mark, played by model, Vice President of Wiseau Films, and oft bearded Greg Sestero. Our third main character is the emotionally bipolar Lisa, played by Juliette Danielle, his “loving fiancee”. I am sure that these are nice people, possibly even good people, with dreams and aspirations, being promised a debut role in what was described to them as a groundbreaking drama focusing on the deconstruction of American success; but in the context of the film, they are akin to hot garbage, rotting away and stinking up everything in their vicinity.
The film has gained a certain level of notoriety for a number of reasons, and the acting is definitely one of them. I’m not positive as to where to place blame; possibly independent talent, maybe it’s the production’s fault, but one thing is for sure, it seems everyone seems as though they are reading directly from an off-screen cue card at gunpoint, monotonically delivering incoherent prose that was intendedly written as a deep look at modern romance and loyalty. That delivery however, is almost always ridiculously impeded by seemingly unnecessary dubbing in post. This dub is done is such a way that it makes each line follow so closely after the former that each character is nearly interrupting the other in any given scene. A glaring deviation from this is the role of Chris-R, played by Dan Janjigian. His performance, radiating untempered passion and anger in his brief one to two minute role was brilliantly juxtaposed against that of the damp cardboard that is Denny. This may just be relative success, but it still remains to be the best part of the movie.
From a production standpoint, one would think that a six million dollar budget would at least allow for the minimal amounts of production value; the set design, direction and editing all prove you wrong. On the topic of set design, it would be easy to assume that the budget would allow for a few plane tickets to film on site in San Francisco but instead everything is noticeably filmed on some lot in LA. My favorite example of this is the heavily featured rooftop of Johnny’s apartment building which is noticeably just a metal shack with a static green screen wallpaper of a city skyline.
My biggest question is why they chose San Francisco as a location in the first place if they weren’t even going to go outside for more than transition shots or make it a big part of the plot? Why not just set the film in Los Angeles? I don’t understand. When questions such as this arise you must remember that the man delivering likes such as “You betrayed me! You’re not good. You, you’re just a chicken. Chip-chip-chip-chip-cheep -cheep,” was the pillar on which this film was supported. His chicken impression on par with that of the Bluth family’s leaving viewers to wonder whether Wiseau has ever even seen a chicken or has maybe just heard of it in passing The costumes looked like they just went into Goodwill and said, “Sure.” As for cinematography and direction this film seems as though they at least had a rudimentary understanding of lighting and how to operate a camera and microphone coherently. This is quite possibly the only coherent thing about this movie, but this is immediately met with random San Franciscan landscape stock footage and a slew of weird editing cues that are hard to follow and unprofessionally draw attention to the beginning of scenes. Exemplary of this are the strangely interjected, 5 minutes long (on average) love scenes which are sure to make anyone uncomfortable; constant cuts, cheesy slow jazz and a lot of roses. Oh, and if you weren’t distressed already, he just kind of exposes himself, utilizing the film’s R rating to its fullest potential. I am not sure if this was meant to be artistically tasteful or if he just wanted to show off his body. Either way I felt unwell.
The Room is not the greatest movie ever made, nor could it even be called a good movie, but it is the greatest bad movie ever made, therein lies its genius, deriving its entertainment from a source usually untapped. The acting is atrocious and the story is even worse, but their lack of self awareness truly creates a masterpiece, just not in the way it was intended. I wholeheartedly recommend this movie. Everything that goes wrong can go wrong and it is fun watching it happen. If you do end up watching it; I feel the best setting is with a group of friends. Having friends around to riff on the dialogue and quote the movie as the night goes on really adds to the overall enjoyment. If you do get a chance to see this film in the theater, be prepared for extreme audience participation with a bevy of screaming heckles, quotes, and spoons hurdled at the screen; as goes tradition.
I give this movie 10 “Oh hi, Mark’s” out of 10.