“The Citizen Kane of bad movies.”
“The worst movie of all time.”
The Room, released in 2003, is commonly regarded as one of, if not the, worst movie of all time. It was critically lambasted, upon release, and earned under $2000 dollars, in its cinematic run. But, eventually, word spread, of its inherent awfulness, and how it made the movie unintentionally funny. In 2004, the director, writer, producer, AND actor, Tommy Wiseau, hosted a midnight screening of the movie, and that’s probably where the seeds of its status as a cult movie were sown.
Throughout the years, it gathered a notorious reputation, for its bizarre and non-sequitir style of filmmaking, and the public eventually came to realize its twisted genius. Some of the celebrity fans of the movie include actors, such as Paul Rudd, David Cross, Will Arnett, Seth Rogen, and brothers Dave and James Franco, among others. I have watched it more than five times, and it seems to get better (i.e. funnier) with each viewing. I have also read the book chronicling the making of The Room, The Disaster Artist, (which is absolutely hilarious; it’s a must read.)
And yes, The Room needs to be seen while drunk.
Why is a movie so horrendous, so watchable? What makes it so good?
1. The Script
“I did not hit her, it’s not true, it’s bullshit, I did not hit her, I did naaaaht. Oh hai, Mark”
The script. Oh. My. God. The script is pure comic gold. What’s funnier is that it’s not a comedy. It’s almost as if, the script was written by an alien, who knows absolutely nothing about writing a screenplay, or directing a movie, for that matter, but desperately wants to direct a movie. And, it shows.
There are several instances of pure unintentional comedy, in what passes for a script. The rooftop conversation, the flower shop scene, the drug dealer faceoff, the breast cancer revelation, and the crowning jewel, “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” These are some of the best lines in this “movie”. In all seriousness, the script is piss poor, pathetic, and all-in-all, inept. And there are several gaping plotholes, not to mention the various plotlines that are randomly introduced, and just as randomly dropped.
2. The Acting
The only thing funnier than the script, is the acting, by everyone involved. Apart from the lead, the great Tommy Wiseau, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, cares much about their role. This is a shame, because if only the rest of the cast acted nonchalantly in their respective roles, The Room would’ve been slightly more bearable to watch.
You can’t really blame the actors and actresses involved, because in various interviews, they have come out, saying that Tommy Wiseau had all of them under his thumb; he wanted them to deliver the lines the way he wanted them to. And, again, it shows.
3. The Sheer Disregard of Conventional Filmmaking
Tommy P. Wiseau picked up the rulebook of filmmaking, read through it, laughed in his weird way, and proceeded to throw the book out of a window. The movie breaks every rule of filmmaking, but not in a Nolan-esque/Lynch-ian, game-changing kind of way. The crew working on The Room quit halfway through production. This was because of Wiseau’s downright maddening filmmaking skills. He insisted on using two types of cameras – a digital, and a regular 35mm camera, to shoot the movie, under the impression that it would become a “big Hollywood thing”. He used to forget his lines, which, funnily enough, he himself had written – the infamous “I did not hit her” scene took more than 67 takes to get filmed.
The supremely cheesy soundtrack, the painfully awkward sex scenes, the weird cinematography, every single filmmaking aspect of The Room is a colossal failure. The Room rightfully earns status of being “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” and it is such a gloriously incoherent mess, that it’s hard to hate it.
4. The Midnight Circuit
Mike Rousselet, an online comedian, and a friend of his, passed by a theatre in Los Angeles, which had showings of The Room, and there were stickers, that said there would be no refunds.
They watched it, out of curiosity, and they really liked it. They went on to urge their friends to go watch it for its sheer awfulness. This was the genesis of The Room’s status as a midnight circuit classic.
The Room soon established its own underground fanbase, much like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. People came to screenings dressed up as their favourite characters, shouting out the various iconic lines of dialogue, throwing spoons and footballs at the screen, the screenings were a sight to behold.
These screenings were made even better, when Tommy himself started to show up, along with select cast members.
All this combined, catapulted The Room into the mainstream, and thus, has now reached a proper cult status, as the best worst movie of all time.
5. Hollywood’s weirdest success story
The Room just might become Hollywood’s weirdest success story. I don’t say that lightly. James Franco has received major acclaim, and some Oscar buzz, for directing, and acting in, the film adaptation of The Disaster Artist. The reception the movie received at SXSW was overwhelmingly positive, with various reviewers pointing out similarities between this, and another similarly themed movie, Tim Burton’s 1994 classic, Ed Wood, another movie about a disillusioned director, who was under the impression that his works were without peer.
And the Academy quite loved Ed Wood; it won 2 Oscars. Now, wouldn’t it be strangely poetic, if a movie chronicling the making of possibly the worst movie of all time, won big at the Oscars?