Tommy Wiseau's The Room: The art of making a bad movie



Imagine that you’re in Los Angeles, movie capital of the world, ready to take in a midnight showing of that week’s massive box office attraction. Upon arrival you’re greeted by a throng of other movie goers waiting patiently in line for their own midnight showing. But these cinema fans are not there for the latest Michael Bay explosion-fest. They're anxiously awaiting what is widely regarded as the worst movie ever put to celluloid. They're there to see The Room.

Never heard of it, have you? The Room is the vision of writer/director/actor Tommy Wisesau, an enigmatic gentlemen of mysterious origin. On the surface, Wisesau’s film is on par with a direct-to-Cinemax feature (groan-inducing sex scenes included), but its failed execution has made The Room infamous.

Volumes could be written on the oddities that take place during The Room, but I’ll keep it brief:

  • The acting is absurdly suspect, made even worse by what appears to be a poor job of audio dubbing.
  • There are enough establishing shots of San Francisco to make one feel they are watching a documentary on the home of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Both characters and subplots seem to appear and disappear at random.
  • An odd fascination for framed pictures of spoons is oddly apparent.
  • Doors in “the room” don’t often lead to the same place twice, and the characters spend an awful a lot of time greeting one another.
  • I wouldn’t advise playing a drinking game based on The Room.

  • Tommy Wiseau as 'Johnny' in 'The Room'

But The Room's flaws are not the real story here. It's the film's burgeoning cult status — a phenomenon not witnessed since the rise of the Rocky Horror Picture Show — that comes forefront. As I teased earlier, The Room is shown weekly at midnight showings where, much like Rocky Horror, the audience acts out their favorite lines and tosses spoons at the screen every time their on-screen doppelgangers appear. And this is not your typical nerdy, fringe element cult following. Some of the brightest stars in Hollywood, including Alec Baldwin, Kevin Smith, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill and Kristen Bell consider themselves fans and make Room jokes in their work.

From Entertainment Weekly’s Room coverage:

''When we do a take, and it seems bad, a comment about The Room is often made,'' says Joe Lo Truglio, who played the jolly knight in Role Models, and is yet another fan of The Room. '''Dude, your heart was in the right place, but the acting wasn't. You Roomed it!'''

Watching the room made me reexamine the meaning of the phrase “good movie.” Does a "good movie," by definition, require technical feats and a mastery of the craft that brings movies to life? Or is it defined by well-written story elements and the creation of a dense illusion? Can the star-power of an “A lister” alone help define the judgment of a film to the positive? All are likely true. However I will contend that once a piece of art has entered the culture, it is really our enjoyment of the art that is paramount to how we rate it. The Room might be the worst film ever made, but rarely have I ever enjoyed watching a film more.

So, yes, The Room falters technically, is poorly written and is performed by actors maintaining a single acting credit on IMDB. Still, I dare you not to love it. The Room does so many things incorrectly that it achieves brilliance in its lousy execution. I’ve now seen the film four times in two weeks, and the more people I watch it with, the more converts I create. You need to see it to believe it. To grasp the wonder of it all. The Room is everything because it is nothing.

I recently spoke to Tommy Wiseau about his film, and I asked him how he feels when people say The Room is a bad film. His reaction:

“You can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself,

but please don’t hurt each other.”

I would never hurt people over The Room. I’d only encourage them to seek out Tommy Wiseau’s craptastic masterpiece, now available on Amazon or Netflix.

My conversation with Wiseau was as enlightening as it was entertaining. We spoke on the cult status of The Room, the troubles of its production, and what’s next for the director.

Continue to check out the wisdom of Tommy Wiseau

in my interview with him.

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