Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Guest Review: The Room (2003)

By ScottDS
Because no one asked, I decided to review The Room. This is a real movie, starring real people, that briefly played in a couple of real LA theaters where it was laughed off the screen. It shortly thereafter turned into a cult sensation, with midnight screenings, audience participation, and the requisite stage show, videogame adaptation, and Internet memes. This movie is so bad it’s good. Actually, it’s pretty bad but it’s fun to dissect. The acting is mostly amateurish, the script is horrible, the music is straight out of Skinemax, and there are several bizarre non sequiturs and continuity errors. Don’t look for substance here – you won't find it. Welcome to... The Room!

(I suggest you take advantage of the embedded YouTube links. My words can't do the film justice!)

The Room was written, produced… executive produced (?!)… and directed by Tommy Wiseau, whose nationality remains a mystery. Oh yeah, he also stars in the film. His accent was described by one critic as “Borat doing a Christopher Walken impression.” He’s not a good actor, he has an annoying laugh which pops up at inappropriate times, and he has a habit of greeting everyone the same way: “Oh, hi [name here].” He plays Johnny, a banker who’s engaged to Lisa (Juliette Danielle). We never see him at his job but we’re to assume he’s good at what he does, despite being passed over for a promotion. They appear to get along but Lisa admits to her doting mother Claudette (Carolyn Minnott) that she doesn’t love him anymore. Claudette reminds her that financial stability is important. Meanwhile, Lisa has an affair with Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero), a likeable schlub who attempts to resist Lisa’s advances, yet gives in every time. By the end of the movie, Lisa has turned into a sociopath, telling everyone that Johnny hit her and claiming to be pregnant. Everything comes out in the open at Johnny’s birthday party. Later, Johnny wrecks his apartment Citizen Kane-style and kills himself. The end.
Thank God I got that out of the way! While the “plot” is rather conventional, there are several supporting characters and subplots that mostly go nowhere. Johnny and Lisa are friends with Denny (Philip Haldiman), a college student whom they treat like a son. While Wiseau claimed in an interview that Denny is mentally handicapped, there is no such hint in the film, which portrays Denny as a simple idiot. He’s oblivious when Johnny and Lisa tell him they’re going upstairs, presumably to have sex. He confesses to Johnny that he loves Lisa, but Johnny is unfazed and tells him that Lisa loves him, too, but as a friend. Denny has a run-in with a gun-toting drug dealer but we never find out what precipitated the conflict, the drug in question, or anything else. I assume Wiseau wanted to have a character in the film who was an innocent but Denny just comes across as a whiny pervert who’s unfamiliar with social norms, and whose hairstyle belongs in 1995.

We also meet Peter (Kyle Vogt), a psychologist friend of Johnny and Lisa’s. He makes no impression whatsoever and Vogt actually quit mid-production… which is why we’re introduced to a new friend (Steven, played by Greg Ellery) 20 minutes before the end of the movie. He makes as much of an impression as Vogt. Johnny and Lisa also have two other friends, Mike and Michelle (Mike Holmes and Robyn Paris). Since the door seems to be unlocked all the time, they sneak into Johnny’s apartment to have sex but are caught by Lisa and her mother. At one point Mike refers to his underwear as “me underwears.” Ya know, I don’t see that catching on. Oh, and there’s a scene where Johnny, Mark, Denny, and Peter play football… in an alley… dressed in tuxedoes. Denny mentions wedding photos but we never see this happen, and there’s never a wedding! Peter takes a dive and the scene is over as soon as it begins. But before this, in order to guilt trip Peter into playing, Johnny, Denny, and Mark do a weird chicken impression. To quote Arrested Development, “Has anyone in this family ever even seen a chicken?”
Speaking of bizarre dialogue, this film has it in spades, and Wiseau’s weird accent doesn’t help. He tells Lisa that he didn’t get his promotion: “They betrayed me, they didn’t keep their promise, they tricked me, and I don’t care anymore.” It’s like an elementary school student who has to write a report that’s a certain number of pages long so he uses filler to bump up the word count. When Denny tells Lisa that he owes the drug dealer some money, Lisa asks, “What kind of money?!” Uh, the green kind? When we first meet Peter, Johnny asks him about Lisa: “But you’re a psychologist. Do you have some advice?” And later in the scene, he yells, “Peter, you always play psychologist with us!” Huh? Lisa and Claudette have the same conversation about Johnny three or four times. “I don’t love him anymore.” “Why not?” “I don’t love Johnny!” “Can you tell me why?” and so on. At one point, Johnny is talking to Mark about work and suddenly shifts gears and asks, “So how’s your sex life?” Hell, Claudette says she has breast cancer and it’s never mentioned again!

The film itself definitely looks like a low-budget affair. Legend has it Wiseau raised the money by importing leather jackets from overseas. (I’m not joking.) Since he was confused about the technical details, he shot the film in both 35mm and digital, which raises the question, “With two camera images, could we get a 3-D version?” The film was shot in LA but takes place in San Francisco. There are some nice 2nd unit shots of the city, though some look like outtakes from Full House. However, the rooftop scenes look terrible, with some of the worst greenscreen I’ve ever seen (and, oddly, no wind). The main set is Johnny’s apartment, which looks like something we might’ve built for a student film. One piece of set dressing sticks out: next to the couch, there’s a table, and on the table are framed photos of spoons. Yes, spoons. At midnight screenings, audience members throw spoons at the screen!
There are three sex scenes in the first 30 minutes, though I’m pretty sure the third scene just uses alternate angles from the first one. The music is straight out of softcore, the scenes take forever, and, while the sex is obviously simulated, it definitely doesn’t look right. To put it mildly, there’s a serious alignment problem! To top it all off, we get to see Wiseau’s ass, which belongs on Easter Island. During the aforementioned tuxedo scene, Mark shows up, now clean-shaven. The camera pushes in on him and we get a whimsical music cue but the significance of this is never explained. At one point, Johnny buys flowers for Lisa but the scene is ridiculously rushed and the dialogue makes no sense at all. The woman behind the counter says she doesn’t recognize Johnny at first, and then says he’s her favorite customer after he's already halfway to the door. It’s like they cut out every other line! And remember the annoying laugh I mentioned? Mark tells Johnny about a woman he knew who was beaten and ended up in the hospital. Johnny’s reaction? He laughs!

I can go on but I think I’m going to stop right here. I apologize if you were looking for a serious analysis. I read about this movie a few years ago but I only recently became part of the cult, so to speak. There are plenty of bad movies that are completely forgettable and not worth watching, which kinda makes me appreciate this one. It takes a special kind of alchemy to make a bad movie that people actually want to see. The film is currently playing the midnight movie circuit and I’d love to go one day. It’s not some ironic hipster thing either. I imagine it’s just a fun communal experience (with spoons!). From what I understand, Wiseau seems to be enjoying his newfound fame (such as it is) and Greg Sestero (Mark) is even writing a book about the making of the movie. (To be fair, the actors seem like a likable bunch and most of them are willing to talk about the experience.) Now… who’s up for a sequel?

“You don't understand anything, man. Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!”

To see The Nostaliga Critic’s (NSFW) review, click here.

To hear excerpts from the Rifftrax commentary, click here.


53 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - it was a fine effort of dissecting this movie, but I have to say, I can say with 99.9% certainty that I'll never see it. I understand your comments about being so bad it is good, because that is the way I feel about Dallas. The thing is though, with Dallas, you had clear rooting interests. Here, . . . . well . . .

ScottDS said...

Jed -

I don't expect anyone to see it, and I would only recommend it as part of a group activity with like-minded people. In the meantime, there are plenty of other entertaining "bad" movies to watch (like those original SyFy flicks Andrew seems to enjoy).

And yes, there are no rooting interests here. Only spoons. :-)

tryanmax said...

All of your links are wonked up. You may want to fix that.

ScottDS said...

Weird... I checked Blogger and all the links are correct (and you can bet I checked them a hundred times beforehand!).

The blog seems to be adding "commentarama.blogspot.com" to the url.

Even if you click on one, you can simply shorten the url. I'll have to keep an eye on this.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

I adjusted a couple of things (damn quotation marks). Try them now and have a laugh!

tryanmax said...

All hunky-dory now!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, The links looked good to me. It could have been the parentheses? They need to be non-formatted or Blogger won't recognize them as HTML and will then assume you meant to link to the site and will insert the "commentarama.blogspot.com".

On the film itself, I've never heard of this until you mentioned it, but it sounds absolutely horrid. I'll probably check it out just to see how badly it was made. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yep, I'm a big fan of the SciFi original programming. There's nothing like seeing a giant Monkeyshark chasing some kids through an empty warehouse on a lazy Saturday afternoon! :)

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

I fixed the quotation marks. I know they were a problem once before but it seemed to do the trick.

I know you're a fan - that's why I mentioned it. :-) Those movies don't really do it for me - I need to be in the right mood and with the right company. With this film, I tried convincing a friend of mine to see it but he doesn't get off on watching bad movies - he considers it nothing more than watching someone else's home movies.

I'm off to school - be back in a few hours.

rlaWTX said...

yeah. thanks, Scott, for this dissection of a movie that I am less likely to watch than I am "MonkeyShark Vs. Kids in a Warehouse". Enjoy your cult.

[I only plan on joining cults begun and led personally by Matthew McConaughey]

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, If I ever hear of an opening in a McConaughey cult, I'll let you know. LOL!

On the SciFi movie, they would probably just called it "MonkeyShark Attack." Then they would rename it "Swampzone Beast" a year later for no apparent reason and try to get you to watch it again.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, There is an art to the bad or cult movie, but some people just aren't into it. :(

Kit said...

I'm a huge Nostalgia Critic fan.

tryanmax said...

I watched the Nostalgia Critic video and I think that's all of the movie I can bear. I wanted to dislocate my own jaw it was so awful.

On the other hand, spoons.

AndrewPrice said...

You know, Mystery Science Theater 3000 made a career of poking holes in bad movies, but the little bit I've seen of this one may put it even beyond their abilities to make bearable.

T-Rav said...

Oh. My. God.

I watched this with some friends a few months ago, and I left feeling like I needed a shower. Preferably scalding hot, with a gallon jug of disinfectant.

We didn't watch it with Rifftrax on, but one of my friends said that this was the one movie that their commentary actually made worse.

ScottDS said...

Kit -

A friend of mine showed me a Nostalgia Critic video a couple years ago and I found it a bit distasteful. But I rediscovered him recently with his review for this film and I became an instant fan. If you haven't seen them already, I highly recommend his reviews of The Star Wars Holiday Special and Howard the Duck.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

Yeah, my friend said the same thing. After watching the review, he didn't feel the need to see the movie! There are no doubt plenty of other reviews out there of the film but even I can only watch so much.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

Congratulations! You're the only other person here who has seen it. I honestly thought no one would've seen it but it's nice to be surprised! :-)

A scalding shower? I don't think the movie was that bad. Sure, it's a bad movie but it's not offensive or viscerally disgusting. It's not torture porn or a Lars von Trier film!

I only listened to the Rifftrax excerpt at the link but I guess I'll have to do the whole thing one day.

ScottDS said...

rlaWTX -

Matthew McConaughey's cult probably has bongos so that's a point in his favor. :-)

Kit said...

I loved his review of BATMAN AND ROBIN.
Especially his blow-up over the "bat-credit card".
LINK

Also, check out Linkara as well, he reviews comic books. LINK

T-Rav said...

"It's not torture porn or a Lars von Trier film!"

True, a von Trier film would at least have well-paced action and dialogue (I think). As for not being torture porn--isn't it, Scott? Isn't it? ;-)

Okay, so maybe I was a bit strong, but this movie was so indescribably filthy and tawdry I just felt like it had transferred to me. I occasionally talk about wanting to see characters in a film die, but this was one time I actually was hoping against hope that stupid kid Denny or whatever the heck his name was would grab the gun and pull a triple murder-suicide.

tryanmax said...

Now that my jaw is firmly back in place---

What I've seen reminds me of a rather sad locally-produced that play I once saw (and embarrassingly, helped to promote) which the playwright conceived while he was going through a simultaneous U2/Aqualung phase and a breakup. However, The Room still looks worse.

tryanmax said...

Kit, I still haven't seen B & R.

ScottDS said...

Kit -

I'm not a big comic book guy (believe it or not!) but I'm aware of Linkara. I especially enjoyed his presence in the Star Trek: Insurrection review.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

No worries, though I wouldn't use either "filthy" or "tawdry" to describe the film. Stupid, amateurish, insulting, unintentionally hilarious... I would use all of those words.

I guess we'll never find out what happened to Denny. (The words autoerotic asphyxiation come to mind.) :-)

ScottDS said...

tryamnax -

Should I feel bad for being interested in that play now? :-)

I don't know Tommy Wiseau's process (if any) or what inspired him to make the movie. Per Wikipedia, he originally wrote the story as a play, then a novel (or vice versa).

Batman & Robin... I don't know. It's almost worth watching once, if only to see what all the infamy is about, but you'll need to pick your jaw off the floor again. Or better yet, watch the (NSFW) Nostalgia Critic review.

tryanmax said...

I may still have a copy of the script somewhere. No promises.

I just watched Nostalgia Critic's review, and I can't say that I even learned anything. Looks like pretty straightforward suck. And who doesn't know about bat-nipples by now?

AndrewPrice said...

I've actually never heard of the Nostalgia Critic until a few weeks ago when Scott or Kit mentioned them to me.

Kit said...

I know I sent an email to you on him.
He's a big liberal (avoid his Facebook page) but he does have the apparently right-leaning Linkara on his web-page thatguywiththeglasses.com.

The Nostalgia Critic rarely brings up politics in his reviews, however, and the beating he gave Captain Planet is a wonder to behold. (NSFW) LINK

Ditto on his "Ferngully" review, which he did with the ultra left-wing environmentalist Nostalgia Chick, and even she thought the movie was beyond silly. LINK

Another is his "Moulin Rouge" review which also features the Nostalgia Chick (and a great musical number at the end about guilty pleasures) LINK
Here is the song: LINK

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

Please don't spend too much time looking for that script! :-)

Yeah, the Nostalgia Critic is fun but he isn't as insightful as Mr. Plinkett who did those Star Wars reviews. Thankfully, he isn't as disgusting either (most of the time).

On the Batman & Robin Blu-Ray documentary, director Joel Schumacher actually apologizes, not just for the nipples on the costume but the whole damn movie.

Kit said...

Also, these two reviews deserve their own comment.
The Titanic animated movies.

Really. Someone in Italy actually made an animated movie about the Titanic. Then another Italian went and made another one.

Titanic: The Animated Movie (a.k.a. "Titanic: The Legend Goes On")LINK
That move probably has some of the worst animation I have ever seen. And the rapping dog. . . Good God that Rapping Dog.

Titanic: The OTher Animated Movie (a.k.a. "The Legend of the Titanic") LINK
That ending makes you appreciate James Cameron's adaptation a whole lot more.

Kit said...

Scott,

Mr. Plinkett's serial killer running gag can get tiresome.

Kit said...

Also, all Nostalgia Critic reviews should be considered NSFW.

Just to be on the safe side.

NotAndrew said...

Scott, Or as insightful as CommentaramaFilms!

ScottDS said...

Andrew and Kit -

As I mentioned above, a friend introduced me to the Nostalgia Critic videos a year ago. I watched his review of Congo (my ultimate guilty pleasure) and I thought one of his gags was a bit distasteful. But a few months ago, I saw his review for this film, and became an instant fan.

At the end of the day, he's not that insightful but it's always a fun trip down Memory Lane, at least for us 80s kids. His review of Full House... my God, I can't believe that show was appointment viewing for me 20 years ago!

And his review of Saved by the Bell made me hate the show even more!

ScottDS said...

NotAndrew -

Yes, of course. :-)

Kit said...

Scott, if you haven't seen his Disneycember stuff, I recommend it. He's not playing the cynic but is instead expressing his love for the animated movies Disney has produced.
LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I honestly haven't gotten around to seeing his reviews yet. Shortage of time lately. But I will check him out.

Kit said...

Here is the "Specials" page which features the Disneycember stuff LINK


Also, here is Linkara's group review of the atrocious Southland Tales. It's two videos and collectively a little over an hour long.
LINK

Just watching the review of Southland Tales actually had me screaming in pain by the end because of how bad the movie was, I can't imagine how awful the movie must be!


(Again, NSFW warning, especially for Southland Tales. And the Disneycember series contains some f-bombs and profanity scattered throughout.)

tryanmax said...

Scott, too late, I found the script. But I don't know your email. I sent you a message thru your website.

tryanmax said...

Kit, ur javascripts awl iz void

Kit said...

"Kit, ur javascripts awl iz void"

Huh?

rlaWTX said...

ya know, you just never know what you're going to read in the comments... ;)

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Isn't that the truth.

Anthony said...

Looks funny, but I tend to find microbudget crap like The Room a less hilarious than big budget crap like The Matrix Revolutions (at least Reloaded had the car chase scene), Street Fighter (I suspect Raul Julia died of shame), Catwoman (Halle Berry's outfit was that movie's sole bright spot) or X-men 3 (the Schumacher Batman movies treated their characters with more respect).

Koshcat said...

Yes, but will it ever reach the levels of popularity like Troll 2? Now that's a classic.

Michael: Do you see this writing...? Do you know what it means...? Hospitality. And you can't piss on hospitality! I WON'T ALLOW IT!
[reaching for his belt]

Joshua: What are you going to do to me, Daddy?

Michael: Tightening my belt one loop so that I don't feel hunger pains, and your sister and mother will have to do likewise. Okay, Joshua. You wanna get rough with me? You wanna show me that you don't like the choice of this house for our vacation by going on a hunger strike? Well, I'll accept the challenge. But just remember when I was your age, I really did suffer from hunger. We'll se who gets through this, but just remember I've got more practice than you. I'll see you tomorrow.

Koshcat said...

Ok, I just finished the nostalgia critic review. This movie should be banned as a form of torture.

Kit said...

Koshcat,

Tougher than me.

I couldn't even finish the review.

ScottDS said...

koshcat -

I still haven't seen Troll 2 but I suppose I should one day. It's another one of those movies that became an Internet meme.

ScottDS said...

Anthony -

You make a good point and I think it has a lot to do with expectations. One would expect nothing from The Room but with the time and talent that went into something like Catwoman (ugh...), you'd at least expect a modicum of entertainment value. :-)

Kit said...

Post-Script from Kit:

I was able to finish the Nostalgia Critic review of THE ROOM.

Wow.

ScottDS said...

Kit -

Post-post-script... I'm glad you were able to finish it. Wow, indeed!

(Though if the film ever played in theaters down here, I'd go see it in a heartbeat. With an audience like that, I imagine it'd be a blast!)

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