Classic Film Review: The Room (2003)

The Room

Directed by: Tommy Wiseau

Starring: Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero, Philip Haldiman, Carolyn Minnott

 

Directed by Tommy Wiseau, written by Tommy Wiseau, produced by Tommy Wiseau and starring Tommy Wiseau, The Room, at its heart, is a drama about Johnny (Tommy Wiseau), his future-wife Lisa (Juliette Danielle) and his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). While Lisa initially seems happy with Johnny, who is financially providing for her and showers her with gifts, she seeks a romantic adventure with Mark, who is then faced with the dilemma of continuing his affair with his best friend’s future wife. The film is filled with other subplots, such as Claudette’s (Carolyn Minnott) cancer diagnosis, Denny’s (Philip Haldiman) drug addiction and Johnny’s failed promotion attempt. And in writing that I’ve given more of a thought about this film’s “plot” than those involved in it clearly did.

The Room is infamously bad, yet has received such a cult following over the years that there’s even an upcoming film, The Disaster Artist, detailing the film’s creation. Its cult following is understandable, I laughed quite a lot throughout this film, and it’s certainly a better 1* film than Stratton was, when that film became the first to hit the lowest scoring grade. But, looking at the film as a film: it’s bad.

Remember that subplot I described about Claudette’s cancer diagnosis? That’s forgotten about seconds later and never brought up again. Remember that subplot about Denny’s drug addiction where he is nearly murdered by his dealer for not paying? That’s forgotten about almost immediately after it’s happened. That’s a reoccurring thing in this film: the only thing that follows throughout is the main drama between the main three.

In my reviews I do try to praise all films where it’s warranted, and, I suppose, The Room successfully creates a clear antagonist. And that’s a stretch. Lisa, who loves Mark yet is still in a relationship with Johnny, is given a bad time in this film for two different reasons: one, she’s the antagonist and therefore comes across as such, but, two, her treatment by everyone else (and all women suffer this in this film). They make such generalising statements throughout about women, but one scene, where Lisa explains to her mother, Claudette, that she no longer loves Johnny and wants to end their relationship, is forced by Claudette to remain with him because of his financial security. Claudette doesn’t care about Lisa’s feelings, or that Lisa’s slept with Mark, she cares that Johnny can provide for Lisa, and that’ enough of a reason to marry him. His money. I was hoping this would play in to something later in the film, but I soon learned not to expect anything from this.

There’s also a random scene with two people who turn up at Johnny and Lisa’s apartment and have sex. For no reason, and it’s said by Lisa that they pop around to do their homework. These are adults. Also, how rich is Johnny? He pays for his house, Denny’s house, anything Lisa wants and Denny’s tuition, yet we never see what he does or where his fortune comes from (which is a little peak behind the curtains at the real Tommy Wiseau, who mysteriously self-funded this film). Also, the sex scenes in this film, of which there are at least four, all accompanied by smooth R&B, are about as erotic as watching a snail crawling on the floor. At one point Johnny appears to be thrusting at her belly button (if that’s why she doesn’t love him anymore then I can understand!), and, despite two sex scenes between Johnny and Lisa, he soon proclaims they haven’t made love in a while . . .  did Tommy Wiseau actually write this or think of it on the fly every morning?

Although I will give The Room credit for one thing: normally I have to use Wikipedia to recall certain characters’ names, not with this film! Every scene begins with someone walking in and saying hi to someone else, who replied with ‘hi’ back, and they all use their names: ‘Oh, hi Mark,’ ‘hey, Johnny.’ (That’s from the rooftop scene, ‘I did not hit her, it’s not true! It’s bullshit! I did not hit her! I did not! Oh, hi, Mark.’ which had me in stitches, as did ‘You are lying, I never hit you. YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!’).

The Room is the quintessential so-bad-it’s-good film: terrible, terrible acting, shockingly bad dialogue, disgraceful camera work and lighting (seriously, in one scene it flickers from one character to the other and they look like they are in different rooms the way the lighting is done), awful characters, un-erotic sex scenes (with far too much of Tommy Wiseau’s arse), serious subplots which are forgotten about, the fact Mark’s friend once hit his wife and Johnny remarks ‘Ahaha, what a story, Mark.’ What’s so funny?, characters, such as one who discovers the affair, just appearing without rhyme or reason, Claudette’s fascination with a wealthy man rather than a lover, as well as her calm after being told she’ll be okay despite having breast cancer (Lisa’s sleeping with two men is clearly more important), Johnny’s never drank, yet drinks scotch and vodka and gets drunk, before later drinking wine, the fact the hitting of Lisa is never brought up again, or that it was ever told by Lisa to anyone, or told by Lisa to Johnny as to why she made it up, how Denny is obsessed with a threesome with Johnny (who’s like a father to him) and Johnny’s future wife, the use of the phrase future wife, and best friend, and it doesn’t matter, and hi, so-and-so, and people just walking in and out of rooms, and Johnny overhearing the affair despite being in obvious view of everyone talking, the constant set-up of things (ie Johnny setting up the phone recorder for ages, and seeing two couple order food before Johnny does), the flower scene (‘oh, hi doggy,’ ‘you are my favourite customer, Johnny’), ‘Did you get your promotion?’ ‘Nah’ ‘You didn’t get it, did you?’ he just said no . . . weren’t you listening?, the whole ‘we’re expecting’ announcement that is quickly turned into ‘there’s no baby’, ‘We got a new client’ ‘what client?’ ‘I can’t tell you, it’s confidential […] anyway, how’s your sex life?’, Mark trying to throw someone off a cliff before they’re best friends again, constant throwing of a football, people slipping over, Mark just pushing Denny for whatever reason and Lisa kissing Mark at Johnny’s party (oh, one more, Lisa tells everyone at that party ‘it’s getting hot, let’s go outside’ and they all go outside). There’s more, by the way, I just ran out of room on my notepad for notes!

How this film wasn’t nominated for a Razzie award I’ll never know.

 

Plot: *

Acting: *

Writing: *

Presentation: *

Overall Rating: *

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