For Valentine’s Day, I want to talk about a film about love, friendship and betrayal. I want to talk about a motion picture with the passion of Tennessee Williams, made by an auteur who is truly, unique. A piece of art that asks, “Can You really ever trust anyone?” Of course given that this is Bad Movies with Brad, that movie is going to be the great smoking garbage fire known only as The Room.
I’ll start off by saying I have watched this thing, way, way too many times. I mean more than once is too much but I’m at…eight? Maybe? I may have blacked out during a couple. I think most of us first encountered The Room when it began airing as Adult Swim’s annual April Fools’ Day prank. Three years in a row they screened the whole heavily censored mess and let every confused college student wallow in misery for two hours. I personally have seen The Room in theatres at midnight and in the private hell I create out of my own home whenever I put the DVD into the player.
Most recently, I went to see the Rifftrax Live! presentation of The Room on my birthday. I went in and had the following exchange with the girl at the ticket counter:
“Two for The Room please.”
“Two for Room, okay.”
“No, The Room.”
She handed me the tickets and I walked away, thinking I’d clarified the situation, and she surely thought I was a jackass. I became certain of this when I looked at my tickets and saw that they were for Oscar nominated drama Room starring the lovely Brie Larson.
This was not what I had signed up for. I promptly got them exchanged, but be careful if you attempt to see either movie this awards season. You might wind up like the couple who sat behind us, who I’m fairly certain wanted to see what Richard Roeper called “…one of the best movies of the decade.” not what Felix Vasquez Jr. called, “a movie so bad, so inept, so unbelievably painful, it’s almost impossible to comprehend anyone thought it would be great on-screen.”
I can tell you after my considerable experience with this movie that it is a titan among bad films, and all I can do is prepare you for the experience. If you’ve followed along with the first two installments of this series, we’ve reached the first boss level.
Oh Hai, Tommy
As you assemble your health potions, I’m going to take some time to introduce you to the person who will be raining blows on your sanity for the evening. If anything can help you comprehend The Room it might be knowing a little bit about its star/director/writer/producer/ vampire lord/melted action figure Tommy Wiseau. I’d attempt to give you some kind of biography of the man but the few details he gives are obvious lies. He says he grew up in New Orleans, despite sounding like Bela Lugosi plus five martinis. If you try and pull up pictures of Tommy Wiseau, most of them look they were taken from a van across the street. When asked direct questions about his life by interviewers he laughs for a while and goes off on an unrelated tangent until asked another question.
Really though his past is irrelevant, what is amazing his singular ability to be so thoroughly awful at so many things. You must understand that when I type this I really don’t mean that as a disparaging remark. His badness at every aspect of the production of The Room is a talent just the same as if he were that good at making things. He doesn’t have an absence of talent, he has an abundance of anti-talent. Think about it this way, remember how good David Bowie was at everything? Music, acting, painting, didn’t matter Bowie brought his own fantastic spin to everything he did. Tommy Wiseau is the dark side of that, acting, writing, directing, production, everything he touches is so fundamentally wrong it is somehow right.
It’s like he’s playing with a different rulebook. You remember Bizzaro World? The world entirely populated by opposite clones in Superman? That rulebook is from there. So I encourage you when you seek out The Room, also find some interviews with Tommy Wiseau talking about his work. You will not be disappointed. I mean the interview on the room DVD copy includes this nugget, “And I thought about a special place, a private place, a place where you could be safe where you could go and it’s not a room but it’s The Room!… The Room is a place where you could go, you could have a good time, you could have a bad time, and it’s safe place.”
Oh Hai, Movie
Watching this movie will give you eye strain from squinting so hard. I mentioned how many times I’ve seen it and I still honestly have very little clue as to why anything happens. Pans over the golden gate bridge and city parks take what seems hours, yet people seem to have two sentence conversations with each other and then leave. That’s not to imply that the conversations go fast in the room, they are agonizing. Also a thing that seems to go on forever: the four sex scenes. Yes, be warned, there are four of these things and two of them feature Tommy Wiseau’s naked form. If you’d like a preview of what this looks like, find an old He-Man action figure and put it in the microwave for about a minute and half. Careful, it’ll be hot when it comes out and not in the way you’d like for a nude scene. Yes, you get to watch that have badly choreographed sex to ridiculous R&B slow jams twice. Thankfully the other two only involve the slow jams.
The characters also make you want to go home and scoop out your brain so it can have a rest for a while. Thanks to Wiseau’s script most of the actors had no idea how to play their characters. One actor (you’ll figure out who) could not tell if his character was mentally disabled or not. And no, that’s not in an inclusive kind of way. Subplots are created and promptly ignored, never to be brought up again, including lost promotions, cancer, a drug deal. Mark (Greg Sestero) is Johnny’s (Wiseau’s) best friend, so he needs to inform everyone of that over, and over, and over again. After sitting through two hours of people talking like this you’ll have strange, uncomfortable reactions to how actual human beings talk.
There is a detail that you won’t come across unless you watch the DVD extras, and why would you when I’m here to do it for you. Wiseau so profoundly didn’t understand how to make a movie that he was confused about the differences between 35mm and HD Digital formats. So he literally strapped both cameras together and filmed the whole movie on both. So somewhere there’s enough footage to cut together a 3D movie of the room, a 3D movie with one ‘eye’ in HD and the other in 35mm. I cannot imagine what that would do to a person, as 3D already makes me nauseous. The only thing equivalent I can think of is the video tape from The Ring.
Oh Hai, Movie Hero
It’s hard to find any bright point in this deplorable mess of a film, but there were a couple contenders. The first is Greg Sestero. Sestero is obviously an actor with a modicum of talent, helping his weird buddy make his crazy, stupid movie. Apparently Sestero helped heavily edit the script taking out lengthy sections of unsayable dialogue that I desperately, desperately want to read. From the content of his book Disaster Artist it’s rather clear that Sestero was the one who kept the movie together, and it is for that reason that I must disqualify him. Even though he seems like a legitimate good guy.
No our real movie here has to be Kyle Vogt who played Peter, Johnny’s psychologist friend. Not only did he give an admirable performance, his character disappears halfway through the movie, because he quit. Now most reliable sources will tell you that Vogt had limited time and told the productions staff this so he had to leave and his lines were given to another (unnamed, and not introduced) character. However I know when he really left. And it’s after this scene.
His last words on screen? “That’s it, I’m done.” I know these are entirely genuine and the only sane reaction to The Room. Could it be the actual line in the scene? Sure, but that’s way less satisfying.
So good luck watching brave bad movie watchers. Rent some tuxedos, get a football and settle in. Prepare to stare into the void of filmmaking and watch it stare back. And as you twitch through your first ever viewing of the room, remember what Tommy Wiseau said, “As an American I’d like to recommend for all Americans to see The Room at the theater and…at least twice…” So remember, just as he’s an American, so too should you see The Room in the theater, twice. Don’t let it tear you apart!