I finally watched the film considered by some to be Citizen Kane of bad movies, Tommy Wiseau’s infamous The Room. Yes I can see why it’s become a cult classic instead of sinking into the obscurity many other, less inspired terrible movies are usually consigned to.
It’s hard to describe just how baffling this movie is; the closest comparison I can think of is if the aliens landed on Earth and decided to make a movie after a week of studying human behaviour by watching cheap soap operas and 90s softcore porn. The main story, if you can call it so, takes place mostly in a bland nondescript apartment and follows Johnny (Tommy Wiseau), a banker whose fiancée* Lisa is cheating on him with his conflicted best friend Mark. Other two main players are Lisa’s mother, who periodically drops in to have amazingly repetitive scolding conversations with her daughter, and Denny, a creepy young dude who lives in the same building and is something of a surrogate son to Johnny. Oh and he likes to be in the bedroom when Johnny and Lisa get it on.
Wiseau, who wrote, directed and produced the film, obviously had no idea how to construct scenes or write dialogue that resembles something normal human beings would say. Pretty much every scene in The Room is wrong and tone-deaf in some way: characters bizarrely change the subject of conversation, storylines about drugs and cancer are introduced and then dropped, and there are multiple scenes of characters kicking the ball for no reason whatsoever. The excruciating sex scenes – and man they are loooong scenes – are hilariously awful; maybe it’s not so surprising that Lisa wants to dump her man, considering that he seems to have no clue about basic female anatomy and is intent on making love to her bellybutton.
The secret magical ingredient of The Room is without a doubt Tommy Wiseau himself. Say what you will about his non-existent acting abilities (Johnny’s last “tragic” scene had me doubling over and laughing like a hyena), but there’s no denying that the man has a weirdly captivating presence, with his inscrutable accent, garbled grammar and strange mannerisms. Looking like a washed-up seedy rocker from a cover band, he’s not particularly convincing as a banker or romantic lead, but by god he’s watchable.
Though The Room is truly terrible and ranks something like 1/10 on a normal scale, it’s a kind of fascinating trainwreck that captures the imagination; watching it on a big screen with the appreciative audience would be a ball.
*For whatever reason, Wiseau has an aversion to the word “fiancée”, so throughout the movie Johnny refers to his beloved as “my future wife”.
P.S. Because I can’t resist: I did not hit her, it’s not true, it’s bullshit, I did not hit her, I did nawwwwt… Oh hi, Mark!
P.P.S. This was the first movie I watched at home since getting my new kitten; now I can never watch a film without having to multi-task, with the adorable attention-seeking British Shorthair always hovering around.