Monday, May 12, 2014

The Room

Lots of people have stories they want to tell, believing they can shed light on the human experience and contribute to the perpetual dialogue of what it means to be alive on this planet of ours. Not everybody gets the opportunity to do so, and sometimes that’s for the best. So what happens when someone feels so passionately for their story that he is willing to spend a small fortune to realize his dream of putting his story to film? You get The Room, a 2003 film made for $6 million, despite looking just barely better than a home movie. A film that tries to tackle ideas of love, betrayal, happiness, tuxedo football, and more…

  • Establishing shots of San Francisco are accompanied by the most dramatic synthesized music since the theme from the first Terminator movie. = +10pts 
  • Trivia Note: Executive Producer Drew Caffrey had been dead for years prior to production beginning. = +15pts (For securing funding from the elusive Dead Producers Society.) 
  • In any other film, Tommy Wiseau would be cast as the grotesque villain. Here? He’s the romantic lead. = -4pts 
  • Characters just say things without regard for what the person with whom they’re conversing just said. = -5pts 
  • Everything Johnny says in tinged with a leering, possessing tone, followed by a creepy chuckle. Are we sure he isn’t secretly the villain? = -8pts 
  • A guest walks right into Johnny and Lisa’s apartment; then they immediately go upstairs to bone. We guess social norms about hosting are out the window too. = +5pts Denny likes to watch. We know this because he tells us. = -4pts 
  • And so commences a 5-minute soft-core porn sex scene, complete with soft focus, candles, roses, a glass fountain that appeared from nowhere, and a cheesy R&B soundtrack. = -10pts 
  • The blatant continuity errors are far and away the least of this film’s transgressions. = +7pts 
  • The only way to describe Johnny’s body is “unsettlingly ripped.” = -3pts 
  • Shots of Lisa’s nipples don’t add anything to the film, and there’s a bedsheet right there. We are curious about any direction given to Lisa’s actress concerning attempts to cover up. = -3pts 
  • Johnny is more obsessed with roses than a magic girls’ anime love interest. = -5pts 
  • Lisa’s mom: exposition-deliverer extraordinaire! = -4pts 
  • Remember ladies: it’s ok if you don’t love your fiancĂ© future husband so long as he can provide for you. = -10pts 
  • Lisa whines to Mark that her mother is trying to control her, then asks Mark to tell her what to do. That’s not internal character inconsistency; it’s theme expressed through character. = -2pts (+6pts for showing not telling, -8pts for horrific themes) 
  • “The candles. The music. The sexy dress. I mean, what’s going on here?” Mark, if you have to ask, you’ll never know. = -4pts 
  • Protesting infidelity makes Mark horny. = +5pts 
  • Another extended soft-core sex scene, this one complete with moaning on the soundtrack. = -5pts 
  • Spiral staircase sex! = +8pts 
  • Song title: “You Are My Rose.” = +5pts (For establishing a clear motif.) 
  • The dog is the best actor in this film. The fact that it has no lines might be the biggest contributing factor to that distinction. = +10pts 
  • One half Canadian bacon and pineapple, one half artichoke and pesto, light on the cheese? The characters’ awfulness even extends to their taste in food. = -7pts 
  • People keep saying they’re busy despite all visual evidence suggesting they’re doing absolutely nothing. We’re adding “the meaning of words” to the list of real-world concepts that don’t exist in the film. = -6pts 
  • Further evidence of the above point: Lisa calling Denny a “brat” when he asks if he can kiss her. = -5pts 
  • “I don’t drink! You know that!” Lisa may know that, but thank you for filling in the audience, Johnny. = -4pts 
  • Johnny has a drinking problem in the same way Ted Stryker has a drinking problem. = +8pts 
  • Lisa convinces Johnny to have sex with her by saying that he “owes her one.” The implicit elements of this relationship just keep getting creepier. = -9pts 
  • Every man in Claudette’s life is terrible. Except Johnny, of course. = -4pts 
  • Lisa’s response to her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis is “don’t worry about it.” Seeing as how this subplot never comes up again, Claudette takes the advice. = +8pts
  • Greatest o-face in cinema history. = +8pts
  • “What are these characters doing here?” Claudette becomes an impossibly meta audience surrogate. = +10pts 
  • “How many people come in and out of this apartment every day?” STOP MAKING SENSE, STRAW MISANDRIST! = +3pts (+12pts for making sense, -9pts for having the single logical character be awful) 
  • Wiseau has made his character a veritable modern-day Jesus. Always the sign of a healthy ego. = -5pts 
  • “Johnny is very caring about the people in his life.” Wait, shouldn’t Claudette be telling that to Lisa, and not the other way around? Did this become Freaky Friday? = - 8pts
  • “Don’t worry about it” and “it doesn’t matter” serve as catch-all reactions to tragedy in these characters’ lives. No wonder their lives are so fucked up. = -3pts 
  • There are establishing shots in between scenes at the same location. In the film’s defense, the San Francisco setting is so irrelevant to the film that viewers are likely to forget there is a larger world beyond Johnny’s apartment building. = -4pts 
  • Chris-R, a drug dealer who knows the value of a good hyphen. = +9pts 
  • “What did that man want from you?” You mean the man who was incapable of saying anything other than “Where’s my fucking money?” = -5pts (One for each minute Denny needed to get the fucking money) 
  • Claudette remains the only sane character by refuting the standard “don’t worry about it”/”it doesn’t matter” non-answer. If only she were wise in other ways, maybe these characters might learn something. = +8pts 
  • “You know that Johnny’s like your father.” THANKS FOR TELLING US, LISA! = -6pts 
  • “Let’s go home.” Dude, you are home. = -4pts
  • Johnny angrily defends his character to no one in particular. = +8pts (For adding evidence to the following theories: (a) Johnny is mentally ill; (b) Johnny is an alien communicating with the mothership) 
  • Johnny finds domestic abuse hilarious. = -15pts 
  • Our world has the maid/mother/crone triple goddess view of women. Wiseau’s world has the too dumb/too smart/too evil view of women. = -20pts 
  • Deciding which movie to see before arriving at the cinema is too much planning for Johnny. = +10pts (For reminding us of the importance of being a free spirit.) 
  • After Denny declares his love for Lisa to Johnny, Johnny “reminds” him that Lisa is like his mother. So now there’s an incest subtext. = -9pts 
  • In every scene in which Lisa talks with another woman, the topic is always Johnny. That sound you hear is Alison Bechdel Hulking out. = -3pts (One for each step of the Bechdel test.) 
  • “Future husband” and “future wife” are the film’s version of “freedom fries.” = -2pts 
  • “That’s life” is actually a pretty on-point response to a rambling story about coitus interruptus. = +6pts 
  • “I gotta go see Michelle in a little bit to make out with her.” We admire Mike’s honesty. = +8pts 
  • On the other hand, Mike doesn’t want to “get into” the story he just willingly told. = -4pts 
  • Claudette is appalled Johnny wouldn’t give her friend money. In fairness, he gives everyone money, so Claudette’s expectations are justified. = -7pts 
  • “You don’t want to talk about it? Then why did you bring it up in the first place?” We are convinced Claudette’s lines were written by an annoyed script supervisor. = +10pts 
  • Don’t make Claudette tired. You wouldn’t like her when she’s tired. = +4pts 
  • Way to bring back the soliloquy. = +8pts 
  • Let’s all laugh at Peter for blinking a lot and touching everything on set… What’s that? He was doing that because the actor suffered a concussion on-set and Wiseau wouldn’t let him go to the hospital? Oh geez… = -15pts 
  • Johnny yells at Peter for always “playing psychologist” with him right after Johnny requested his opinion as a psychologist. Clearly, Peter is not a good psychologist if he hasn’t recommended some kind of intense therapy for Johnny. = -3pts 
  • “So what’s the interesting part?” We like to think that line was ad-libbed by a very frustrated Sestero. = +10pts 
  • Wiseau saw Homer Simpson’s “where’s Poochy” advice and found it to be the key to screenwriting. = +5pts 
  • Mark suffers from Reefer Madness. To learn more about Reefer Madness, consult this documentary. = -4pts 
  • Peter is such a good friend, all attempted murder is easily forgiven. = +6pts 
  • More NFL teams should play in tuxedos. = +7pts 
  • “Anyway, how’s your sex life?” is a criminally underused conversation-starter. = +5pts 
  • These awkwardly shot soft-core scenes remind us that some things should be left to the professionals. = -6pts 
  • We’d say that the audio tech should be fired, but the lack of dialogue makes the film better. = +8pts 
  • “I don’t want to talk about it” is the perfect capper to a speech detailing your worldview. = -9pts 
  • If the notoriously litigious Disney did not sue Wiseau for featuring their logo in this film, there truly is no justice in this world. = -10pts 
  • “Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!” = +6pts 
  • “You invited all my friends! Good thinking!” Johnny probably would have invited his enemies had he been in charge of planning his birthday party. = +4pts 
  • Establishing shots now used to torture us by reminding we could be out enjoying San Francisco. = -5pts 
  • Lisa told Johnny she was pregnant to “make things interesting.” Lisa is worse than Hannibal Lector. = -7pts 
  • Telling your girlfriend that another woman “sure is looking hot tonight” is a great relationship strategy. = -6pts 
  • At least Lisa’s dress will never betray Johnny. = -11pts 
  • Denny demands that Lisa and Mark leave him alone with Johnny’s corpse. In a surprising showing of sense, Wiseau chooses not to show us what Denny does with the corpse. = +5pts

The Room is what results when a man has the means but not the talent to realize his impossible dream. Tommy Wiseau wanted to tell his story, and he succeeded in the most horrifying way imaginable. Instead of dazzling audiences with a tragic tale of the dark side of human interaction, we are treated to a psychological profile of a man who barely understands human interaction and has very dark views toward women and very deep-seated self-esteem issues. In Wiseau’s constructed world, characters don’t act in any way like a real human would, women are hateful, shrewish, and manipulative, and his author avatar, Johnny, is a selfless saint, whom everyone is perpetually adulating. Sitting through the film takes patience and fortitude, but, to be honest, it is strangely worthwhile. The Room is an uproariously funny in ways that can only result from its independent nature. Because for all the bad studio films out there, none could ever be as sublimely bad as this.

Total score = -38pts
Available: DVD

Score Technician: Andrew Daar


  1. Ummm, why??? Oh, why everything before the last paragraph?