The Room (2003)

Director: Tommy Wiseau

So the challenge theme at the ICheckMovies forum this month was “cult/drive-in/grindhouse”, which, it must be said, is a large part of what’s finally drawn me back into blogging after the quietude of the first five months of the year, and that’s why I’ve been making my way through a bunch of older films on the Drive-In Delirium list. Tonight, though, I decided it was time to go a bit more contemporary and take on what is arguably the cult film of the 21st century so far… The Room has attracted a reputation for spectacular awfulness, and the first thing that needs to be said about it is that this reputation is WHOLLY deserved. I have a vague taxonomy of bad films, whereby the REAL “worst films ever made” aren’t the cheap and cheerful genre (usually SF/horror) films made by people without resources and/or experience; it’s the serious, straight dramas made by people who do know what they’re doing and who you’d expect to know better, but that are so flawed in some fundamental way that their aspirations to serious art just implode. Admittedly, this film doesn’t quite fall into the latter category, in that by all accounts Wiseau had not a fucking clue about what he was doing, but he did seem to be trying to make some sort of serious statement anyway. At least, that’s what everyone else in the film says; ever since the film started to be hailed as an unintentional comedy classic, Wiseau’s said he was trying to make a consciously idiotic black comedy, but I don’t think anyone really believes him.

Personally, I dread to think of the amount of alcohol I’d need to consume to enjoy The Room on that level; I just found it utterly abysmal rather than “so bad it’s good” (which, as I’ve said before, is a critical formulation I normally abhor but there are some films whose sheer awfulness does make them entertaining to watch). At the broadest level, the story (boy loves girl and is going to marry her, girl no longer loves boy and starts to fall for boy’s best friend instead) is not terribly original but still OK, but the execution of same… the writing is shit (although some of the lines achieve a kind of transcendence in their stupidity), the music is shit (particularly those godawful R&B slow jams over the numerous sex scenes), the acting is unspeakable (Wiseau is probably the worst offender—he is genuinely stunning—but Carolyn Minnott as the girlfriend’s mother is not far behind), to say nothing of the film’s many and varied narrative problems (unexplained subplots and other things that don’t make sense), technical problems (the infamous green-screen exteriors), and other behind-the-scenes issues making their mark as well. It’s just woeful in pretty much every respect. Wiseau’s co-star Greg Sestero has since written his own book about the whole baffling experience, which has itself been optioned for a film which I imagine will have to be better than this atrocity; as I said, it undeniably lives up to its shit reputation, but that didn’t make it watchable…

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