When it was first released in 2003, The Room was nothing short of a disaster: with a budget of $6 million, it earned only $1,900 at the box-office during its first theatrical run. Production was a mess, with cast and crew constantly changing. It is considered to be one of the worst movies ever made… yet quite a lot of people (myself included) love this film to death! Why is that?
The Room is produced, written, directed by, and starring Tommy Wiseau, co-starring Greg Sestero, Juliette Danielle, and Philip Haldiman. The story is a failed attempt at creating a melodrama: Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) is a successful computer programmer, and is enjoying life with his fiancee Lisa (Juliette Danielle) and his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). However, Lisa does not love him anymore, and is cheating on him by sleeping with Mark. This is the basic premise of the film, and really nothing else of importance happens until the last 15 minutes of the film.
Looking at it ojectively, the movie is absolute garbage, and it makes the viewers ask themselves a lot of questions, starting from a very obvious one: what is the titular room? Is it Johnny’s apartment, where 80% of the events take place? Is it the green-screen room in which they filmed the rooftop scenes, which are some of the highlights of the film? According to Wiseau, the room has the potential of being the site of both good and bad events. I like to believe that the room is the place in which the film is experienced, be it alone, with friends, or with people you don’t know: it is the place where friendships are built, the will gets tested, and where you will come out of as a changed person.
In the past decade, the ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ genre (?) of movies has become more and more mainstream, with a lot of unbelievably bad and incompetent films that are so horribly made that you cannot but laugh at them. The sad thing is that you can see that most of these films are deliberately terrible, making some of them hard to watch. What makes The Room the true masterpiece of bad that it is the sheer dedication and passion that Tommy Wiseau put in it: he was thinking that he was making a genuinely great and deep film, thus there is a charming quality to it all that makes it hard not to be invested in these horribly written characters and the insane situations that ensue.
Johnny is the most perfect human being ever written for film: he is rich, he has friends, he is good, he is funny, and everyone loves him. On the flip side you have Lisa, one of the most hateable villains ever created: she is insidious, mean, profiteer, a succubus, a witch, a liar; she only does what she wants to do without thinking of other people’s feelings. Then, stuck in the middle between these two characters, there is Mark: Johnny’s best friend, as full of charm and good looks as he has problems with women; his arc is truly moving, torn between the Platonic love for his friend and the carnal love for his girlfriend. The dynamic between these characters feels timeless, taken straight out of Greek mythos about doomed friendships and tragic love stories.
We cannot forget about all the wonderful side characters that we will meet during this adventure: Denny (Philip Haldiman), the teenage/20-something kid who sees Johnny as a father figure; Claudette (Carolyn Minnott), Lisa’s mother, who has breast cancer that gets talked about once and never again; Michelle (Robyn Paris), Lisa’s best friend, who is apparently always at her apartment having sex with her boyfriend Mike ‘Weird-Faces’ (Scott Holmes); Chris-R (Dan Janjigian), the infamous drug dealer who threatens Denny during the only action scene in the movie; Peter (Kyle Vogt), psychologist and friend of Mark and Johnny who acts as the voice of reason; and that random guy during the birthday party who apparently is called Steven (Greg Ellery), whose sole existence is that of saying the lines that were originally written for Peter, only that Vogt had other projects scheduled so he had to be replaced with another character. In the 99 minutes of the film, you will grow to love and hate all of these characters.
It is hard to explain what really makes The Room a recommended viewing experience to those who know nothing about it: it is a bad movie in every possible way, and that is going to make it hard to accept for a lot of people (my mom famously forced me to stop the screening once we got at the ‘I did not hit her‘ scene). What I really love about this film is that it never fails to make me laugh: I love Wiseau’s alien accent; I love Lisa’s bitchy attitude; I love that Mark always reminds us that Johnny is his best friend; I love how some characters are always around the apartment; I love the flower shop scene, and its awful audio editing; I love how there are barely any camera movements in the whole film; I love that Wiseau does not know how sex works; I love the soundtrack, and how inappropriate it is; I love the chicken noises; I love the climax, and how awkwardly Wiseau destroys the apartment.
Most of all, I love how it always makes me think about the relationships that I have in my life, and the ones that I see others have. Even with all of its bad qualities, the portrayal of infidelity and love triangles is not too far off from what I see on a daily basis all around me. I also genuinely like the character of Mark, and the internal conflict that he has.
Overall, The Room is easily one of my favorite movies of all time: hilarious from start to finish for how terribly executed it is, the amount of charm and effort Wiseau put into it makes this a delightful viewing experience that never gets old. A classic through and through, and one that won’t be forgotten in the years to come.
Visual Effects: 3
Violence & Gore: 7
Sex & Nudity: 8
Drugs & Profanity: 6.5
Intensity & Horror: 2