Spotlight of Shame- The Room

Anime Reporter takes the first of what may prove to be many looks at my top choices of what I consider to be truly horrible movies. We’re starting off with a movie that won’t surprise anyone at being called a bad movie. This one is commonly hailed as the Citizen Kane of bad movies. It’s the movie that has people worldwide finding hilarity in framed pictures of spoons and spontaneously exclaiming ‘Oh, hi Mark!’ That’s right, people, I’m courageously taking the stance of calling out The Room for not being an entirely well made movie, but I’m also proudly declaring that I love watching this movie as a disastrous masterpiece.

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Written by, produced by, directed by and starring Tommy Wiseau, this film… well, as you can probably tell, this film is mainly the result of one man wanting it to be made badly enough. Originally written as a lengthy novel by… Tommy Wiseau, The Room tells the story of Johnny, a successful banker and his ‘future wife’, (this movie is incapable of using the word fiancé even once), Lisa. Although, now that I think about it, “story” is a strong word. What actually happens throughout this film is a little more bizarre than that. It can be summed up pretty neatly as:

  • Johnny and Lisa are engaged.
  • Johnny doesn’t get the promotion he was hoping for.
  • Lisa suddenly decides that she doesn’t love Johnny and starts sleeping with his best friend.
  • Johnny doesn’t take it very well when he eventually finds out.

However, the actual events of this film are a frenzied blur of nonsense and absurdity which is only made hilarious as you learn that Wiseau wrote the piece as a serious drama, and apparently even tried to have it nominated for an academy award. I don’t want to go into every little detail of what makes this film such a disasterpiece as the truest joy is in discovering this film for yourselves. So here, in short, are my favourite five aspects of The Room.

Creepy Denny

5- The storylines- “lines”… no. Dots. Storyperiods, maybe even storyexclamationpoints. Entire pieces of drama, occasionally far more interesting than whatever’s going on with Lisa/Mark/Johnny, just burst onto screen and then die just as soon. We have Denny, the creepy kid who lives next door and looks up to Johnny as a father. Denny gets involved with a crazed, violent drug dealer who comes demanding his drug money at gun point near the film’s beginning. The man is taken away and this incident is never referred to again. Likewise is the casual exclamation that Lisa’s mother has breast cancer, the conversation where Denny is in love with Lisa and then immediately just sort of isn’t and a scene that has five men playing catch in tuxedos for no reason whatsoever. This film is an optical illusion that makes you think you’re watching one type of bad movie, but then shifts to another and another and another.

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4- Johnny’s character- Johnny is described by other characters as being a loving, giving, generous man. All we really see of his character is that he has no idea what’s going on half the time, laughs at horrendously inappropriate things, asks about people’s sex lives at bizarre moments and apparently needs to hear a confession of infidelity like three times before he considers himself to have caught out his cheating “future wife”. This man is a disaster of bland proportions and would feel like a poorly developed background character. As the lead, he feels more like Tommy Wiseau’s vision board of how he wants people to describe him, while making no efforts to make Johnny act like a person.

3- The visuals! This film regularly features a rooftop scene with some fairly terrible green screen effects. This, coupled with ridiculously amateurish stunts and falls, makes the entire thing feel like it was recorded over a long weekend as a casual project. The reality is that the film had a surprisingly large budget. The camera that Tommy Wiseau purchased for use in the film is worked overtime on horrendous sex-scenes, awkward transitions and even more horrendously awkward sex-scenes. It couldn’t be easy to reproduce such a cheap, shabby looking piece of film even if you tried. Also, there’s an entirely unintentional spoon-motif that makes little sense.

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2- The dialogue- Oh my sweet mercy, the dialogue! The lines in this film are painfully cringeworthy. Characters interact with no sense of what a conversation is actually like and none moreso than Johnny himself. Count, if you can, how many times Johnny exclaims, “Oh, hi!” or how many times you felt the need to slap yourself in the face while listening to Lisa’s conversations with her mother. Every line feels like it was written by a fairly, (but not superbly), advanced computer programme trying to approximate human interaction… This may or may not be one of the many theories surrounding the origins of Tommy Wiseau. Which brings us to…

1-Tommy Wiseau! The disaster artist himself! This man is responsible for virtually all of the bizarreness within this film. Every line, every scene, feels the effects of his touch. You can’t help but notice how out of place his lines sound, apparently as he had to dub over the vast majority of his mumbled lines. It’s also been said by more than a few that he reads lines he wrote as if he doesn’t understand them. In fact, he handles most aspects of human interaction as if he’s only seen them through rudimentary diagrams. As he also wrote every disjointed scene and mind-numbing character, which just makes him a glorious enigma of a man. Apparently, the only thing that stopped Tommy Wiseau from inserting vampirism into his character is the fact that his special effects crew apparently couldn’t figure out a way to effectively make his sports car fly… I mean, think about that… In this tale of betrayal and love, and spoons, drug-dealers, death and Johnny being wonderful, he thought that he should make his character a vampire, but stopped, only because he couldn’t put something unrelated to vampires into the film. This man is a marvel!

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If you haven’t seen The Room, then shame on you. If you participated in making The Room… I mean, you’re probably already quite ashamed. Give yourself a break. If you’re Tommy Wiseau, please keep trying to make serious and heartfelt drama, because that’s so much funnier than when you try to do comedy.

Thanks for reading,

A.R.

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Anime Reporter brings you reviews and insights on anime, manga and whatever else I feel like! Welcome!

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Posted in American Film, Reviews, Spotlight of Shame

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