Every so often Annemarie and Brooke see fit to relinquish control of Required Viewing. This time, we gave the pick to our dear friend Daniel, and he decided to make all of us sit through the entirety of Tommy Wiseau’s iconically terrible “movie,” The Room. Annemarie, start us off. Tell the people what this movie is about — if you can — and also share your reactions.
A: I can’t even justify the presence of this movie in this series, as it was dear Daniel’s choice. I saw The Room circa early 2008 when I first moved to L.A. My friend Leah insisted that I had to watch this movie, and then, as I believe is still the case, there was a theater on the Sunset Strip that showed The Room Friday nights around midnight. You’d go after drinks/dinner, yell and throw plastic spoons at the screen, and sometimes Tommy would even show up to do meet and greets. I laughed heartily through the whole thing and have since told people about how awful but how fun the whole thing is.
The Room is actually more of a piece of performance art that is hard to believe exists. It doesn’t really contain a plot or characters, so I don’t know that you can even call it a movie, so I agree with your use of quotation marks above. It’s supposed to be about a guy who’s having a really bad series of days: he doesn’t get a promotion at work, his fiancée is cheating on him WITH HIS BEST FRIEND and SPOILER ALERT he kills himself. But really, it’s about really bad acting, supremely bad writing and the most ridiculous use of green screen in the history of cinema. Like I said, it’s more performance art than actual art. It’s not even so bad it’s good, it’s so bad that you just can’t keep your eyes off of it in disbelief.
Much ink has been spilled over the years on The Room, but Brooke, you’d managed to avoid seeing the whole thing since it was released. Tell me, what did you think? Was it as bad as you thought it’d be? Also, how exactly did you avoid seeing this movie?
B: I’m going to get real with you, Annemarie. The Room was so much worse than I thought possible, even given my previous exposure. But, I put the fact that I actually made it through down to my dear viewing companions, who made the whole thing at least as riotous as it was confounding. And indeed, I think it was the absence of such company during my earlier attempts that ensured I did not see the entire ordeal. Which is to say, I thought, “I’ll watch this utterly sober and alone, it cannot be that bad.” And then less than 20 minutes in my body went into a defensive coma to protect me from Tommy Wiseau’s vision. I tried to watch it sooner than this, I just couldn’t.
And I nearly lost faith this time out too. Even with a crew and alcoholic beverages. Which brings me to the topic we must discuss. What is the worst part of this terrible, awful, no good movie? I’m not sure I can decide, but I will start us off with the first moment I almost tapped out. The first sex scene. I was going to type out a really long list of questions here, but I think I’ll go against everything we stand for and embrace brevity, just this once. WHY? WHY TO ALL OF IT?
A: Oh without a doubt, the first sex scene is the worst 5 minutes in film history. It feels like it goes on for AGES, the music is unlistenable, Tommy’s butt thrusting is eye-bleach worthy, and obviously serves no purpose other than establishing Tommy as a sex god. Which he’s not, let’s not kid ourselves. You cannot help but groan “NOOOOOOOOOOOO” throughout. I honestly don’t even want to talk about it anymore, which again, goes against our credo. But I just can’t.
Let’s talk about the most ridiculous moment (but in a good way?) of the film. For me, it’s when Lisa’s mom drops in, casually mentions she has CANCER, and then we never hear of it again. How about for you?
We know already that Tommy funded most of this movie in order to get it made, but it’s still pretty perplexing that it actually exists. So Brooke, if you had unlimited money and could have complete creative freedom, what sort of film would you make? I’d go with an on-location ensemble (preferably one where we can wear awesome costumes), but I can’t decide on what I’d like to adapt.
B: I know we’re not talking about it anymore, but can we also mention the part where the weird neighbor kid tried to stick around for the sexcapades? That was weird and I just can’t. Anyway.
The CANCER moment, and every other Lisa’s mom moment are kind of unreal. Not only do we get the dropped ball on “I have breast cancer and I’m going to die,” we have many, many instances of completely insane maternal advice. I’m actually not sure who is more exasperating, Lisa or Lisa’s mom. Lisa’s mom is the master of the brief drop-in and the near constant “you should marry him for security” advice. But, she’s also thirsty for gossip about the affair and she doesn’t react in any proper way when Lisa (falsely) tells her that Tommy has been beating her. And speaking of that trail of crumbs, what is the deal with Lisa?
If I had all the money and chose to throw it away on a movie, I would definitely also go for an ensemble. I would either adapt a period piece so we could watch ourselves in pretty dresses at Afternoon Tea, OR, I would go the mini-series route and make a darkly comic rendering of the decline of a marketing agency. Not to be oddly specific or anything.
This is normally the part where we would talk about clothes and sets and such, but … I’m not sure we want to in this case.
A: What is the deal indeed with Lisa? It’s apparent to me at least that she’s written by men who have never actually met a woman? She’s vindictive, a borderline sociopath (I am using that word not really knowing if she is or not, but it sounds accurate), and of course, is hearing tons of bad advice from her mom. If she is really that concerned about financial security, why not get a job? She appears to be gainfully employable. But again, she’s written to be the worst stereotypes imaginable about women. I certainly don’t know anyone who would marry purely for money and then also accuse said fiancé of beating her. In all, nothing anyone does is actually what a real human would actually say or do.
I agree, there’s nothing I want to discuss in terms of clothing or sets, but I do have a fan-favorite scene! This makes no earthly sense but it’s hilarious.
I agree, we need a movie where we can wear awesome clothes. I have a random thing to throw in for discussion that has nothing to do with The Room, but is a nice palate cleanser. I read this book, The Ordinary Princess, when I was young and it still stands as one of my favorite early chapter books. Just take a quick read at this preview and tell me that wouldn’t be so much fun to write and star in? I can’t believe no one has adapted it for a film yet…
Also, you’re not wrong that there’s a huge opportunity to do a semi-biographical rendition of our agency experience. We, of course, have Mad Men, but agencies are nothing like that (and also exactly like that). If someone wants to bequeath us some cash, we should make that happen.
B: Okay, I read far enough in The Ordinary Princess to see that there is a character named Fairy Crustacea, and I’m fully on board. Cast me in any role you desire.
I guess we should get back to The Room though.
I … Okay, let’s talk about Tommy’s character here. We know that Tommy Wiseau wrote Johnny thinking of him as a guy who has it all. In Wiseau’s mind, Johnny is handsome, well-heeled, a magnificent lover and he’s super nice to boot. From our view, Johnny is probably an alien wearing a skin suit and he has some severe misunderstandings about the female anatomy. I will say, he does seem quite a nice chap, even though he allows everyone in his life to take advantage of him. What do you think, AM, did Tommy do his vision of Johnny justice?
A: I can’t really defend Johnny’s behavior, even though he is portrayed as the victim in all of this. The way he reacts to things (that is to say, the way Tommy has written him to react) just isn’t how people talk and therefore I can’t even relate to anything he does or says. This isn’t really a situation of bad writing as totally unrealistic writing. Makes it difficult to judge any other way.
I will say though, since Tommy did get the fame he so craved, regardless of how bad his creation, I’d argue he should be happy with what he’s done. He’s made something we’re all still talking about, and not all of us can say that about our work!
B: And as a devoted follower of A24 and their good works, I must thank him for the gift that will be The Disaster Artist. But I believe our friend Thomas is going to close us out, by doing a thing we never could. Sharing thoughts on his genuine love for The Room. Take it away, T.
T: Hi everyone. Thomas here.
I couldn’t let Brooke and Annemarie get away without letting me add a few more characters to this massive pile of words up above. I think they suspect I will defend this movie to the death… and I’m not going to do that. It’s clearly a bad, bad movie with awful acting and nonsensical writing. But I love it.
And the reason I love it, you see… The Room is not truly a movie. It’s an absurdist masterpiece, a dadaist parody of film, dripping with a purity of intention that stings your sensibilities. And it’s spiced with sarcastic, preposterous dialogue and acting that swings between wooden and aggressively unbelievable. It doesn’t make sense as a movie… not one choice made during it’s creation truly feels like a correct one… so how HOW did it get made?
We will likely never know. It feels so alien an experience, even as it tries to tread the most worn of movie plots. So many other movies try to follow the ‘so-bad-it’s-good” tact, but this doesn’t even feel like humans could have made this. It is a truly unique creation.
I can’t recommend this movie to everyone, but those who can stomach the existential dread of seeing the world through such a damaged, dirtied lens as Tommy Wiseau’s worldview, I think there’s much to learn. I give the movie one out of zero.
Next time on Required Viewing we’re getting back into the sometimes believably scripted world of The Hills. Yes, we’re STILL watching this show.