After watching James Franco star in The Disaster Artist, me and the missus really wanted to check out and see the infamously bad movie known as The Room, directed, written, produced, funded, and staring the bizarre human (?) Tommy Wiseau.
Now having watched The Disaster Artist, it has given me a little bit of appreciation to The Room before I had even seen it. Knowing how it was made and all the random incidents that occurred throughout the course of its development, as well as just how strange Tommy really is in real life (such as peculiar personality, and not knowing the origins of himself and how he got his money). I think that if I had just watched the film without any knowledge going in, like so many people did back when it came out in 2003, then this film would have just been labelled as “fucking terrible”, because at the end of the day, that is what it is. If you did not know what had taken place during the film’s production, then you will not enjoy it unless you really look past everything that makes this film bad and try and see the story that Tommy is trying to tell, or, alternatively, just enjoy it for how bad it really is.
The film itself is about a love triangle between our three main characters, and how the female of the group is actually manipulating the situation to get what she wants in life, whilst taking full advantage of the man she is suppose to marry; Johnny, played by Tommy himself.
The story itself is nothing we have not heard, read or watched before, so in that respect, the plot of the film is not overly terrible, it is how it is implemented.
Now Johnny is referred to as a very sensitive man, who is really an every day hero, although we never actually see this. He does not get as much screen time as the main antagonist of the film; his fiancée Lisa, if you do not include the random scenes of Johnny walking around the streets of San Francisco in a suit. Johnny is discussed quite a lot by the other characters with regards to his kind deeds, such as paying for Lisa to pursuit her failing computer business (although what business that is is beyond me), paying for a kid, who Johnny rescued from the streets, to live in their apartment building as well as pay for his colleague tuition, and all the other kind stuff he has done. But as I have said, we never actually see Johnny do anything kind. Most of the time he is just laughing and trying to help the other characters (who do not appear at all in the beginning of the film and just suddenly show up halfway through) with their issues.
Meanwhile, Lisa is bored of the amazing Johnny and has decided to shack up with his best friend. Lisa is described as a manipulator and so she convinces Mark (played by Greg Sestero) to betray his best friend and sleep with her.
List meets with her mum from time to time (mainly to discuss plot points that never come up again) to discuss what Lisa is up to and how much she hates her life, maybe as a way to try and make us understand what exactly Lisa is up to, but most of these conversations end with “I don’t want to talk about it” and the mother suddenly leaving only moments after just showing it. It did make us laugh how everyone in this film is in a hurry to get somewhere else, and they arrive at the apartment for a very short time before making an excuse and leaving.
One of the plot points that is shown but never mentioned again (other than the mother having breast cancer) is the kid Johnny has taken in owing money to a guy with a gun. Now maybe this is relevant as to how Johnny gets hold of a firearm, (as it is relevant for the final scene), but it was Mark that actually wrestled the gun off the criminal, so how Johnny came to acquire it is beyond me.
The funny thing is that me and the wife were both confused as to what exactly the kid owed to the criminal. Did he borrow money off the guy and need to pay it back? – which if he did then he has somehow used that money to buy drugs (what drugs? We will never know), or did he buy drugs and owe him the money? – which is the obvious choice, however, the conversation that takes place after the criminal attacks the kid, contradicts this, and the whole scene feels really out of place with the rest of the film.
There are a numbers of times that this type of thing happens, such as the scene when they are playing American Football in their tuxedos, that just feels completely out of place, but it is actually because it is for Tommy’s wedding rehearsal (taking place months before the wedding), although this is never actually said.
The entire film is one massive plot hole that contradicts itself constantly throughout. People say things that conflict with earlier things, story-lines are shown but never come up again, people randomly come into their apartment to have sex (which is actually one of the strangest things about this film), and characters are all over the place, they go from trying to kill a friend by throwing him off the roof of the building, to being their best mate again within moments of itself. Johnny is one of the worst for this, because during one conversation with Lisa, she is telling him that she doesn’t want to be with him and that he hit her whilst drunk (when she got him drunk as he didn’t drink before she ‘manipulated’ him into drinking), while Johnny first of all laughs it off, but eventually he is saying “I would never hit you” whilst violently pushing her down onto the chair and not allowing her to get up and leave without giving him an explanation.
This is of course following on from the infamous scene where Johnny goes to the roof and says that he did not hit her and that it is bullshit, throwing a bottle of water on the floor, before suddenly seeing Mark and greeting him kindly, and comically Mark didn’t even notice he was there, despite his sudden anger-filled entrance moments before.
At this point, I would like to point out that although the scene that follows where Mark tells Johnny about a woman who got beat up and Johnny’s instant reaction is to laugh seems a bit strange, it actually isn’t as bad as I was expecting. I had heard this scene was random because of it, and yes hearing about it does seem to cheer Johnny up, but he might just be laughing because of how much Mark is trying to change the subject and take Johnny’s mind off the fact his girlfriend has accused him of hitting her… except that it is replaced with the fact that she might be cheating on him… so maybe I am a bit wrong here. My point is that this particular scene was not as bad as everyone had made out, in my opinion.
Anyway (and this paragraph is a complete spoiler so skip it if you don’t want to know the end of the film), Lisa and Mark’s relationship is eventually revealed during Johnny’s surprise birthday party, that plus the fact he didn’t get the promotion at work, and how all of Johnny’s friends knew about Lisa and Mark, leads Johnny to kill himself by putting a gun in his mouth. Right at the end, Mark realises the error of his ways and rejects Lisa, who is conflicted by the fact that she has realised her actions have lead to Johnny’s suicide, but she is relieved as her and Mark can finally be together.
The film basically shows that men are buddy buddies with one another and do lots of good things for the good of mankind (as even Mark is portrayed as a good guy, he is just manipulated by Lisa into having an affair with his best friend’s future wife – a title that is mentioned constantly throughout the film), and women are pure evil who do whatever they can to get ahead in life. The entire thing is massively sexist, but I think that comes from Tommy Wiseau’s past experience.
I started to feel sorry for Tommy about halfway through, not Johnny; the character, but actually Tommy Wiseau himself, as, to me, it feels as if he is drawing from real life experiences. I can imagine that, in the past, Tommy was engaged to a woman who slept with his friend.
After watching The Disaster Artist, I can see that Tommy has a thing about betrayal. It really is one of his triggers and he hates the idea of anyone going against him, which in his eyes is a betrayal, and this might be explained by the fact that he was cheated on in the past with a woman that he loved. It is hard to imagine, with Tommy the way he is, that he would be able to think up this story just off the top of his head, unless of course he had an unexplained hatred for women, so it is clear that he does have some kind of personal vendetta against someone who is like Lisa in the film.
To Tommy Wiseau, The Room is his magnum opus, it is Tommy pulling his raw insides out for all of us to see, however, the film is so badly filmed, written, acted, and edited, that it is hard, or near enough impossible, to actually see this. It is almost like Tommy wrote this film at various different points throughout its development and didn’t bother to make any notes, nor did he even attempt to rewrite it once it was finished. This causes the film to be all over the place. The fact that in the first half of the film there is a sex scene every 10 minutes (including one where Johnny appears to be making love to Lisa’s belly button) makes us wonder if Tommy simply forgot he had already written a sex scene only moments before. I guess we will never know, but it is pretty easy to assume.
Although the film is comical, it is not meant to be. The moments that are suppose to be funny, are not, but the moments that are serious, are absolutely hilarious. It was not written this way, but it seems as if it has turned out this way. It is so bad that it is actually quite good. Although you find yourself laughing or confused as to what exactly is going on in terms of the plot, there is something quite endearing about it all. I have seen terrible films before that I have had to turn off halfway through (or less than) but The Room did keep my attention throughout, only if to see how bad it became as the film continued on. It looks as if it was not made in 2003, but actually much old, and they are trying to work out how people are going to act in 2003. Even the background feels like this with the sets feeling incredibly fake and every time the group ahead up to the roof top the background there is clearly a blue screened image. The whole world just feels completely unrealistic and almost like a daytime film. That is the best way to describe it. There are only about 2 characters that appear to be actors, and these are merely side character, where as everyone else feels quite alien, almost as if they are from another planet and are trying to act human… much like Tommy Wiseau himself.
Overall The Room is a complete mess. There are so many plot holes it is like a wild west cartoon of a Cowboy drinking a glass of milk after a shoot out. But there is still something to it. If you look at the film for what it is, then it is awful… god awful. It is quite possibly one of the worst films ever made, but if you have a bit of an understanding about Tommy himself and his strange ways, then you might be able to get a glimmer of what Tommy Wiseau was desperately trying to do when he made this film, as well as maybe answering a few points about him himself and his past.
The bad plot, poor acting, and everything else that is wrong with this film, is enough to turn you away, but if you go into it knowing that it is bad, then you can have an hour and a half of fun picking it apart and laughing at what you might find.