The Room (2003)


Production designer MERCEDES YOUNGER is putting the final touches on a film set – a plainly furnished room with a few couches, framed pictures of spoons, and a spiral staircase. TOMMY WISEAU, the director, enters.

Oh hai, production designer Mercedes. What are you doing?

Hey Tommy, actually I’m really busy right now. I was just wondering where you wanted to place the television.

Is simple, you put it in the corner. Now get to work.

That corner? Are you sure?

Of course, where do you think?

Behind the couch. Makes sense.

The Room is a masterpiece. Written, Produced, and Directed by Tommy Wiseau, The Room is like a daytime soap opera, only with worse performances and a more obvious plot. The film tells the story of the all-American Johnny (also played by Wiseau), and his future wife Lisa (Juliette Danielle), who has been cheating with Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). There’s really not much more to the plot than that, and yet, somehow, there is. It’s a story that explores some dark themes including orphaned children, drugs, suicide, and the dangers of being chicken.

In making the film, it seems as if every time faced with a creative decision, Tommy actually went out of his way to choose the supreme opposite of what would make sense. When his character overhears Lisa outright admit that she’s been cheating, for example, he sets up a tape recorder so he can get proof of the affair. But Johnny, you already have proof, you heard her admit it! Good thing she didn’t see you hiding behind that staircase.

I’m invisible.

The Room often beats you over the head with its exposition, while at the same time leaving massive revelations out. We are told in a countless number of scenes that Lisa is Johnny’s future wife, but we are never given a clear understanding of how the orphan Denny (Philip Haldiman) ended up under Tommy’s wing, nor how old he is. The gaps in logic are astounding. In an early scene Lisa confesses to a friend that Johnny got drunk and hit her. Then later on, Johnny cries out in anguish, ‘I did not hit her, it’s not true, it’s bullshit, I did not hit her, I did not.’  Johnny is never directly accused of hitting her onscreen, so how does he know about Lisa’s allegations? In writing the sequence this way, it appears Tommy thought that Johnny talking to himself on a rooftop would be more compelling than actually showing Lisa accusing him. That scene must have happened, since Johnny knows about her claims, but we don’t get to see it.

The characters are below one dimensional, if that’s possible. The only perspective presented is that of the protagonist. Almost every character makes a point to mention that Johnny is the nicest guy on the planet; that anyone would be lucky to be with him. Everyone speaks with that singular voice. Even Lisa, who claims to dislike Johnny, constantly mentions how generous and caring Johnny is for taking care of Denny. Around town, everyone knows Johnny and greets him by name. Despite this absurd popularity, the occasional shopkeeper won’t recognise him behind dark sunglasses.

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Two entirely different people! Hai Doggie!

Then we have Lisa’s mother, Claudette (Carolyn Minnott), who insists, despite her allegations of domestic abuse, that Lisa’s ‘financial security’ matters more than her safety and happiness. She also sees Johnny as some sort of saint. I’m sure Claudette’s stressed though, given the long list of offscreen characters constantly bothering her for help. That jerk Harold wants a share of her house. Her friend Shirley Hamilton needs a loan from Johnny. Edward has been talking about her – he’s a hateful man. Not to mention that she’s dying of breast cancer.

Obviously this film has a gigantic cult following and the most obvious tropes have been discussed from here to the ends of the earth. The framed spoon picture. The 19 second flower shop scene. The gratuitous and anatomically incorrect sex scenes. The character Peter (Kyle Vogt) being replaced by Steven (Greg Ellery) with no explanation. Me underwears. The Chris-R subplot that goes nowhere. The football. Leaving your stupid comments in your pocket. Despite multiple viewings, I never tire of these moments and still manage to find something fresh every time I see the movie. I’ve been watching for six years now and I don’t see myself giving up anytime soon. There’s just so much complexity to the awfulness that it will never cease to entertain.

Bad movies are best viewed with a group of people, and the hardest part about sharing The Room with others would have to be that first half hour. When I want to show friends my favorite bad movie, there’s always those uncomfortable three sex scenes featuring Tommy’s side-ass clenching tight as he thrusts a little too enthusiastically. People question what you’ve gotten them into. For a first screening, it’s probably best to warn people about what they’re about to see. If they can power through those early moments, they will be rewarded with one of the best experiences of their lives.

The Room is a hair-gripping wild ride.

TOMMY is preparing for the final scene. As various CREW MEMBERS set up the shot, Mercedes approaches Tommy.

Production Manager Mercedes, what are you doing? Why is the television in corner?

Tommy, that’s where you wanted me to put it…

We must move it for TV smash scene.

But continuity-

Stop talking and do it. I have very emotional scene to prepare!

Couch? What Couch?

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