MOVIE REVIEW | The Room (2003)

The Room

“As far as I’m concerned, you can drop off the earth. That’s a promise.”

The Room is probably the most famous, most successful terrible movie of the new millennium.  I don’t mean terrible like a Wayans Brothers movie, or Now You See Me.  Those movies might be real shit bombs, but they at least have some technical skill behind them, coherent scripts and competent actors.  The Room has none of that.  All The Room had was director / writer / executive producer / star, Tommy Wiseau.  A deeply sad, mad man, with access to too much money.

I saw The Room for the first time maybe three years ago.  And I have seen it once or twice more since then.  Which would usually mean it would be ineligible for me to write about here as I try to stick to movies I’m seeing for the first time, or at least for the first time in many years.  But then I read Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist.  As one of the stars and producers of The Room, he was there every day, watching this abomination come to life.  Even better, he was friends with Wiseau for several years before making the movie.  After reading The Disaster Artist, I had to revisit The Room.  Because knowing the stories from behind the scenes, I can’t believe the complete mess that is The Room actually came out half as well as it did.

Amazing Insight Taken from The Room’s IMDB Trivia Page, #5
Wiseau took 32 takes to say the lines “It’s not true! I did not hit her! It’s bullshit! I did not. Oh, hi, Mark!”

Coming home to his apartment that looks like a high end San Francisco townhouse on the outside, but a cheap and nasty set on the inside, Johnny (Wiseau) is greeted by his fiancé, Lisa (Juliette Danielle).  He gives her a new dress, makes her model it for him, then they proceed to bone down.  Yep, literally five minutes into The Room and it’s time for a four minute, creepy sex scene.

Amazing Insight Taken from The Room’s IMDB Trivia Page, #4
Shot simultaneously on 35 mm film and high-definition video. Tommy Wiseau was confused about the differences between the formats, so he used both cameras on the same mount.

Before the next gratuitous sex scene, which is only six or seven minutes away, we’re introduced to Lisa’s mother, who is there to seemingly do nothing but tell Lisa how lucky she is to have Johnny.  There’s also Denny (Philip Haldiman), the possibly mentally handicapped young guy who lives in the same apartment building as Johnny and Lisa.  He’s there for more proof that Johnny’s amazing.  You see, Johnny tried to adopt Denny, when that wasn’t possible, Johnny set Denny up with an apartment where Johnny pays the rent, as well as paying for Denny to go to college.

Amazing Insight Taken from The Room’s IMDB Trivia Page, #3
Much of the furniture and decor for the main “room” set was a complete display room taken from the window of a thrift shop.

There are several random characters who float in and out, never really justifying their existence, but the one last important role is Mark (Sesetero).  He’s Johnny’s best friend, he also lives in the same building, and he’s shaboinking Lisa, which is where the second sex scene comes in, still less than 20 minutes into the movie.  But don’t worry, at the 26 minute mark, we get the third.  This time, it’s back to Johnny and Lisa, and it’s made up of several of the same shots from the first sex scene between the two.

Amazing Insight Taken from The Room’s IMDB Trivia Page, #2
Mark is named after Matt Damon. Tommy Wiseau misheard Damon’s first name despite his obsession with the actor.

The Room was obviously written by a very damaged man, trying to deal with some shit in his past, while also having no self awareness of that.  Before reading Sestero’s book, I just thought Wiseau was some sort of delusional egomaniac.  After reading Sestero’s book, I think The Room was a deeply lonely guy’s way of inventing a world for himself where he had friends and a girlfriend, and got to be the best guy in all of their lives.  The guy who saves Denny from a drug dealer and has a future mother in law who won’t stop talking about how awesome he is.  It’s even sadder that even in this made up world, his best girl and best friend betray him.

While he hasn’t made a movie since The Room, Wiseau has spent almost a decade talking up a sitcom he has made, or is making (they’re the kinds of details that differ from one Wiseau quote to the next) called The Neighbors.  The bad news is, the only way to see the first episode is to be at an official screening of The Room, which isn’t that east to come by.  The good news is, the little snippets available online make it look like hasn’t lost a single ounce of his glorious craziness.

Amazing Insight Taken from The Room’s IMDB Trivia Page, #1
Unlike most movies, where the sets are generally closed while filming nude sequences, Wiseau insisted that the set be open while filming the long love scene between Lisa and Johnny.

The Room
Directed By – Tommy Wiseau
Written By – Tommy Wiseau

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