I’m unsure how to go about this. If you’ve heard of The Room, you probably already know all about it, as just hearing what some people have said about it is intriguing. If you haven’t, and still somehow managed to read just this sentence, skipping over the earlier ones of this review, then you’re better of not learning anything about it, never watching it—don’t even skim over the Wikipedia page. Exit your browser now and go take a nice bath. It’ll be better for you.
Assuming you’re still with me, The Room is a film that was directed, produced, written by, and starring a man named Tommy Wiseau. Despite looking like it was made in the late 1980s for about $500, I’ve been told that it was made for about $6 million and was shot at some point between 2001 and 2003. It stars actors who had never before been in a feature film, has a story that is incomprehensible, dialogue that harms the ears more than listening to your MP3 player on full volume, terrible production values, a ton of asynchronous sound, and is probably one of the most hilarious things I can remember seeing.
I only just listed some of the main problems that The Room has. There are many more, but I could just list things for the entire review, point at the list and say “this is why The Room is terrible.” That would suffice, but there’s a difference between being a terrible film that’s boring and being a terrible film that’s incredibly entertaining. For better or worse, this one falls into the latter category. It is absolutely awful, and if anyone is studying film, this is a perfect “what not to do” film, but the fact remains that I can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard at a film.
Even the opening title credits violate the unwritten rules of how to introduce your film. To begin with, we see not once, but twice, that the film is distributed by Wiseau Films. Like, separate logo screens and everything; not just text! Then we see a shot of San Francisco, something you’ll get very used to if you choose to sit through the entirety of this abomination. We cross cut between more San Francisco shots and cast member names. This might make sense if the film took place primarily in San Francisco, but this could have been filmed anywhere and you’d get the same result.
Wiseau plays Johnny, who begins the film walking into his apartment with dress in hand. His “future wife,” Lisa (Juliette Danielle), will eventually don the dress and make love to him to some completely inappropriate and not-at-all-fitting music. Note how I said “future wife” instead of “fiancée.” That’s because none of the characters in the film ever use the word “fiancée.” Maybe that one isn’t in Wiseau’s vocabulary.
It turns out, Lisa is cheating on Johnny with Johnny’s “best friend,” Mark (Greg Sestero). We’re reminded constantly that the relationship between Johnny and Mark is “best friend,” even when Lisa and Mark are about to go at it. If you somehow manage to forget these character names, don’t worry, as The Room has your back. Whenever a character sees another, they’ll acknowledge them with a “hi, [insert character name here].” This is hilarious, especially when random characters just sort of pop in and out whenever they want, always to be greeted with a “hi.”
There isn’t a single element of The Room that works.
Cringe-worthy dialogue doesn’t stop there. Many characters have phrases that they’ll repeat whenever it’s opportune. Lisa constantly remarks “I don’t want to talk about it,” often right before or after already having done so. Johnny tells people “whatever” even after the majority of conflict in the film has been revealed (and right after he got in a fight). Mark asks “what are you doing?” every time Lisa tries to come onto him, even after she’s done so frequently.
The dialogue fun continues. Motivation seems to be an overly convoluted concept for our junior writer, so instead of having one action or sentence lead to another, each one seems to stand alone. The example that I instantly think of is when Lisa delivers this line: “I’m going to do what I want to do, and that’s it.” She follows that with this, just a couple of moments later: “What do you think I should do?” Another time, she receives a negative response to her question “Did you get your promotion?” About five seconds later, she repeats “You didn’t get it, did you?”
This holds true for events in the film as well. Some things come up once, and are never mentioned again. Others are focused heavily on, but are later changed for absolutely no reason (a late-game character turnaround is a good example of this). Other points of the film seem to make no sense in terms of the story, like in the (infamous?) scene where a few of the males get dressed up in tuxedos, seemingly are going to some big event, and end up playing football instead.
The acting is also terrible. I mentioned that none of the actors had previously appeared in a feature film before. This is probably for the best. Many lines are said with absolutely no emotion (possibly because that’s the only reason they could say them with a straight face), but others are overacted about as much as you could. It looks ridiculous, sounds insane, and if you’re not laughing, you need to lighten up.
I could go on for a lot longer, but I think you get the point. All of this adds up to something that is absolutely hilarious and definitely worth your time. Is it good? Not in the least. There isn’t a single element of The Room that works. And yet, that’s why it’s so much fun. When there’s a car crash, people turn their heads to see it. This is a car wreck that somehow managed to involve enough vehicles to take down the Golden Gate Bridge. The sheer insanity of it makes you want to watch. It’s an absolute atrocity, but it’s definitely worth your time; you won’t see anything funnier in a while.
Conclusion: The Room is abysmal and awesome.
Recommendation: The Room is a must-watch movie for all the wrong reasons.