A Window into "The Room"Tuesday, May 01, 2012 By Gus Coats
When a movie is bad, it can mean any number of things. We can be disappointed, regret choosing it, or wish we had those couple of hours back. We can look at all the places it went wrong, and think of all the little redeeming changes that the director could have made. But when a movie is as bad as Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room,” it plops onto the smelly plush sofa of infamy right next to “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” Written, directed, produced and starred in by aspiring filmmaker Tommy Wiseau, “The Room”, possesses a childish caricature of the totality so many movies try to attain; the sense of creative unity that gives a film an authentic intentional feel. The difference with “The Room” is that this totality is attained not through perfecting many different aspects of film, but through botching them so perfectly and universally that it seems fatedly terrible. In short, it is a beautifully unwatchable movie. Wiseau is a short man with a greasy black mane and a fondness for sunglasses. He speaks slurred English in an ambiguously European accent, and that doesn’t change much when the camera starts rolling. After the credits, courtesy of Wiseau Films, we join Johnny (Wiseau) in a San Francisco apartment. He and his girlfriend Lisa (played by Juliette Danielle) are living a cozy life together. Johnny works for a bank, and Lisa is just a stay at home… person? Things seem positive between the two, and right off the bat, Director Wiseau drags us into a lengthy and awkward sex scene. When that blows over, the conflict begins bubbling up. It turns out Lisa doesn’t love Johnny anymore; she loves his best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). But Lisa isn’t going to break off her engagement to Johnny. So begins the love triangle. The rest of the movie consists of Johnny and Lisa’s friends stumbling into said triangle and witnessing the conflict, trying to advise Lisa and protect Johnny. This just makes the movie sound like a crummy soap-opera-esque drama, but the charm of “The Room” lies in all the offbeat lines and little incongruities that kill its credibility and legitimacy. Like how every character has just a first name except Chris R, who for no discernable reason, has a last initial. And yes, Chris R is the only Chris, so it’s not for clarification. All the actors in “The Room” seem like remorseful volunteers, and it still puzzles me why the leads signed on at all. Words can’t do this movie justice. Wiseau’s acting is so perfectly atrocious and the delivery of his lines, lines he wrote, so forced and melodramatic that every stab this movie takes at an emotional response drags it further into the uncanny valley. Everything about this film just seems sweaty. Wiseau’s approach to filmmaking is so admirably and childishly naïve that his hands must have been sticky with Hi-C from the moment he began writing, to the moment he turned off the cameras. The only impressive thing about the movie is that it ever got made. And to be honest, that actually makes this movie beautiful. It’s a glimpse into the mind of a man who the world wants nothing more than to laugh at and condemn for trying. A man who we can articulately declare to be incompetent and hilariously awful at acting. But also a man who saw himself as an artist when nobody else did, and went out and made a movie. Whether we like it or not, this movie is a testament to the creative drive of Tommy Wiseau and his willingness to share his idea with the world whether the world likes it or not. It’s bad, but it’s bold; the man expressed himself.