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The Room (Chloe Productions/TPW Films/Wiseau-Films, R)

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If you experience brain damage as a result of watching this film, I disavow any responsibility whatsoever.

 If you can’t make a good film, maybe the next best thing is to make a really bad film. So bad that it becomes a midnight movie and people line up just for the privilege of laughing at it. That’s what Tommy Wiseau accomplished with The Room, a 2003 feature which is bad in so many ways I can’t begin to list them all here.

Ross Morin, a film professor at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota, dubbed The Room “The Citizen Kane of bad movies” but in my opinion that’s not giving the film’s author, director and lead enough credit. Instead I prefer to think triple-threat Wiseau as the Ed Wood of the 21st century: he thinks he’s making a serious picture and yet you could die laughing at the result. Young filmmakers should watch The Room just to see what happens if you blow off things like continuity, focus and the 180 degree rule.

The story, such as it is, involves Johnny (Wiseau) and his fiancée Lisa (Juliette Danielle) who is screwing around with Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). Johnny has a sidekick named Denny (Philip Haldiman) who he’s putting through college. Why? I have no idea. The guys like to throw a football around, Lisa has a meddling mother (Carolyn Minnott) and there’s lots of soft-porn sex scenes in which Johnny seems confused about which part of the female anatomy he’s supposed to be aiming for. Wiseau makes absolutely no attempt to maintain any kind of chronology (the wedding is always a month away no matter how much time seems to have passed) so my advice is to give up on trying to understand what is happening and just lean back and admire the ineptitude of it all.

If he does nothing else in his life Wiseau can take his place in the pantheon of bad actors because while the others are merely wooden he makes an absolute fool out of himself, time and time again. He’s singularly unsuited as a romantic lead (although he might be pretty good as the title character if anyone wants to make The Charles Manson Story) and we see way too much of his saggy body in what are supposed to be the hot love scenes.

Reportedly Wiseau sank 6 or 7 million of his own cash into this film and is most mysterious about where it came from. My guess is that he’s in the porno trade because The Room is a lot like a XXX-rated film without the XXX, right down to the stilted dialogue, completely artificial situations, and fetishization of objects like fur and candles.
If you decide to check out this unique bit of filmmaking for yourself, it will be the most fun if you get up a group of bad-movie aficionados and egg each other on. The good folks at the Tivoli assure me that audience participation is not only allowed but encouraged, so here’s a few tips to get you started:

  • When the film is out of focus (which happens a lot), yell “Focus!” When Todd Barron’s name appears in the credits (he’s the cinematographer), yell “Damn you, Todd Barron!”
  • Every time a gratuitous “establishing” shot of San Francisco appears (which happens a lot—the film was shot in LA) yell “Meanwhile, back in San Francisco!”
  • Once you’ve had enough of the film’s less-than-subtle misogyny, start yelling “Because you’re a woman” every time a woman appears on screen. You can add personal touches like “jiggle jiggle!” if you feel so moved.
  • When Denny the teenage sidekick comes on screen, greet him with “Denny!” and when he leaves yell “Bye, Denny!” He has a tendency to pop up most improbably so you’ll have to be on your toes or you’ll miss your chance.

OK, I’ve given you enough information to make an informed decision. If you experience brain damage as a result of watching this film, I disavow any responsibility whatsoever. | Sarah Boslaugh

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