THE ROOM [The Woeful Worship]: Oh, hai!….Yes, yes, we get it. He talks funny…
Alright, last week we took a bit of a breather. “El Sacerdote” needed every day to rest up, what, with WonderCon, Batman V Superman: Dawn Of A Plot, and…to be honest…the one-two punch of David DeCocteau really took a toll on me. Needed all my strength for this week’s Woeful Worship, because this is probably the most obvious title you could imagine, one you’re probably thinking I’m an idiot for not including first.
Look.. it’s The Room. I know, I know. I’ve seen The Room–waaaay too many times, with waaaay too many members of the original cast and crew, and waaaay too many midnight showings (all of which featured Chris Sarandon in the audience, wearing a red dress, in attendance). You’ve seen The Room. Chances are you’re watching The Room right now. Even better are the chances that your grandparents, who don’t even watch movies anymore, have seen it. And it is with absolute certainty that the children you will inevitably one day have will have been born having already seen The Room. It’s THAT type of movie.
What’s the plot, you keep asking, having not learned yet from the previous entries? Well, it’s hard to say. Not so much a “film” as it is a serious of scenes, The Room is set in San Francisco , and is “about” nice-guy Johnny (writer/producer/director/actor/vampire Tommy Wiseau) and Lisa’s (Juliette Danielle) future wedding, and how Lisa (who is just SO HOT) winds up seducing Johnny’s best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). There are also subplots involving Denny (Danny? Donnie? played by Phillip Haldiman, who was actually one of the oldest cast members in the film, despite being cast as a teenager(?)), a man-child Johnny is putting through college and for whom he’s paying rent, getting involved with gangster Chris-R (Dan Janjigian) over drugs that he is either buying, selling, or supplying (never at any point made clear, nor mentioned ever again after this single scene of its inclusion). Also, Lisa’s mother, Claudette, (Carolyn Minnot) reveals, apropos of nothing, to her daughter that she has breast cancer, only for THAT major, potentially dramatic and interesting subplot to never be brought up again. Hell, that last sentence I wrote is a longer mention of that plot than anything the movie provides. Eventually, Johnny suspects Lisa and Mark of having an affair after watching them slow dance and practically make out in the middle of his own birthday party, and after listening in and recording a conversation they had (something which Wiseau apparently did CONSTANTLY in real life). And then Johnny abruptly kills himself. And that’s about it. That’s the entirety of the movie. Well…thanks for reading!
A few years ago, I’d shown this movie to one of my best friends, and his current wife. It was either her first time watching it, or both of theirs. Midway through the film, due to the number of contrivances and meandering plot points, she’d just shout out “New movie!” whenever a new pointless development was introduced, almost as if Wiseau had just begun shooting a new movie in the middle of working on this one. By the end of the film there were too many instances of “new movie!” to even remember (although Batman V Superman DOES come close, with 16 instances…) It’s almost as if Wiseau taped plot points up to a dart board, and threw the darts at a bookshelf instead, and whatever book they hit, he instead picked up a movie whose title began with the second letter in the book’s title, and whatever the plot of that movie was, he did the opposite. So many disparate elements and conflicts arise (and there are SO MANY creaky, clanky, creepy sex scenes…hell, the second scene in the movie is a sex scene), and so many conflicts that WOULD be explored instead just get ignored, either from scene to scene, or even line to line.
Having read The Disaster Artist, which Sestero wrote about the making of The Room (and which is highly entertaining, insightful, funny, and a much more interesting story), I now know the reasoning behind some “creative” decisions. Why was Johnny holding a water bottle when he met Mark on the roof, after having been accused of hitting Lisa? Now I know. Why was Johnny waving to absolutely nobody at his party? Now I know. Why does Johnny say hello to a pug in the flower store (which is owned by a woman who doesn’t recognize Johnny, yet he is apparently her favorite customer)? Now I know. Why was every scene outside on the roof shot against a green screen? Now I know. Why was the interior decorated with framed photos of spoons and cutlery? Why did one character get portrayed by two different actors? What was the point of the scene of the guys wearing tuxes, playing “having a catch” in an alley? Now I know! And knowing is half the battle…but still doesn’t make this film any good.
As an actor, Wiseau is atrocious. Hands down, objectively, bad. Sadly, the other actors don’t fare any better, but it might also have to do with the nonsensical script, and the unintelligible, imaginary direction. There is a point in the movie where you can actually see Greg Sestero mentally check out (although he seems pretty tuned out at the start). And Juliette is given a thankless role that is downright unmotivated, nonsensical, and misogynistic. What is her goal in hooking up with Mark? What does she do all day at home (oh…she says she’s in “the computer business”, and Johnny “works for a bank”). What does she want (while talking to Mark about wanting him, THIS is her line, verbatim, “I want to do what I want to do…What do you think I should do?”)? Perhaps the script was written without actually being seen? All the other actors range from “there they are” to “Wait…why is this actor now playing this part? Didn’t that other guy play that part a few scenes ago?” And through it all, only Chris-R makes any sort of real impression (he should, seeing as the actor went full method with the character).
With a “vision” as singular and obtuse as this, you’d think there’d be something good about this film, or at least a point, something Wiseau was trying to convey. It seems like it’s a vanity project for Wiseau; he made his film (in which his real-life best friend Greg played make-believe best-friend Mark), and funded it completely, made it entirely his way, to be the center of attention for at least 90 minutes. But as a filmmaker, Wiseau is, in nearly every sense of the word, a gatecrasher. Tommy Wiseau making The Room is the Donald Trump of filmmaking: he bought his way into it, has no taste, no point, no message. It’s utterly mysoginistic, and hilariously insane, while directed with the vision of someone who may very well be a delusional sociopath (The Disaster Artist delves much, much deeper into this topic). And, ultimately, both results are a hilarious mess with no positive message, and which will be examined and mined for comedy gold for the next decade and a half.
Look, I’ve seen this movie more times than should be legal. And I’ve seen it in the direct presence of Wiseau himself. Whatever his intent with this film, he has milked it entirely for what it’s worth, and will continue to bask in its weird attention for as long as he can, long after it has lost any entertainment value, even ironically. What is his intent with all of this? Who knows. I first heard of (and saw) this film over a decade ago, and even then it was the stuff of comedic gold. But now, having gone through the routine so many times I can remember every single detail of every shot of this film? Ugh…
Loving this film in an even ironic sense feels passé, even a bit annoying, as it’s like rewarding the loudest, most obnoxious kid who is purposefully going out of their way to annoy the shit out of you. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do so, just to experience this odd, red-headed child of bad movies (if you can do so, get into a midnight screening. Chances are, at least one member of the cast or crew will be there). And if you’ve seen it already, I know exactly how you feel. Trust me. I’ve loved this film for what it is, for what it isn’t, and for how it was made. And now? I’m happy drunkenly watching this celluloid madness maybe once a year…when I’m really in the mood for it. But don’t turn it into anything more than what it is…this is a bad film with no point and little redeeming qualities aside from the sheer curiosity of it all, and the insanity of watching something that was made by a man who may or may not be a vampire (again…not a joke).
The Room is singular in how many “Huh?” moments you’ll have watching it, and unique in its most unbridled, ego-driven unleashing of Tommy Wiseau. Whatever he is, he is definitely watchable. And how’s this for you up-and-coming filmmakers, or indie directors lamenting in obscurity: Tommy Wiseau made this, what is consistently considered amongst the worst (if not THE worst) film ever made. And he sells out screenings across the country every week. Thirteen years after the fact. What’s YOUR excuse?