Film A Week #TBT: The Room (2003)

Cult classics are an odd bunch of films. These films that are labelled as such stretch from a variety of genres and, for lack of a better term, critical outlook. Sure, a majority are underrated, but what about films that skirt into “so bad, it’s good” territory.

There are standouts like Showgirls, “Manos” The Hands of Fate, Troll 2 and Birdemic. Even the older film of director Ed Wood (Plan 9 from Outer Space, Glen or Glenda, etc.) garners this praise. Yet, it’s Tommy Wiseau’s The Room that has stood out as the magnum opus of bad cinema in the modern era.

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It’s been the canon fodder of internet reviewers and comedians alike since its release in 2003 and for obvious reasons. The film is absolutely awful with a plot that Lifetime Movies would pass up. The film is directed, produced, written and starring Wiseau as Johnny, a lovable San Franciscan.

Johnny has a good life with his wife Lisa (Juliette Danielle) as they share passionate moments of navel penetration and using roses in the bedroom. Unfortunately, Lisa has grown dissatisfied with Johnny and is seeking out his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero) to ignite an affair behind Johnny’s back. The affair begins and Johnny is slowly becoming suspicious of Lisa’s actions behind the scenes. Can their marriage work as it cracks or will Johnny succumb to the pressures of the reality before him?

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The answer to that question will reveal itself after several unresolved subplots, side characters that add nothing and long-winded sex scenes. The dialogue is utterly horrendous and delivered as such with classics quotes of “I got the results of the test back. I definitely have breast cancer” or the immortal words of “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa.” The acting is abysmal due to Wiseau’s material being weak to begin with as the actors struggle to treat it seriously.

The production itself is also not the best basically staged like a theatrical production being shot on access television. The use of green screen for the rooftop scenes is obvious especially when Tommy enters via the door to reveal it is a much larger room inside. The ADR (alternative dialogue recording) is blatant with some line reads not matching with the scenes at all.

Yet everything that could be said about the film has already been said. From the internet reviewers Nostalgia Critic and Alison Pregler, wrestling podcast OSW Review or the crew over at Rifftrax, the film is constantly in the internet consciousness. The film even has a fan made point-and-click game called The Room Tribute (which is free to play).

It has become a phenomenon with its widespread exposure bringing Wiseau out obscurity and into the spotlight. He is always touring at conventions hocking his wares, at midnight screenings with the rabid fan base and starred in the sequel to another “so bad, it’s good” film Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance.

The rest of the cast embrace the craze of The Room by talking up the madness of Tommy Wiseau’s production. Sestero going as far to write a book about the experience titled The Disaster Artist. The book itself is being adapted into a film of the same name by James Franco, a fan of the film, with Franco playing Wiseau.

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The Room is a widespread cult hit among film fans and geeks alike with a unique brand of bad all its own. It takes the typical plot of a direct-to-video drama and manages to screw it up in spectacular fashion into an unintentional black comedy for the ages.

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I’m a fan as well with a signed copy of the film on Blu-ray.
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