[8 June 2010]
PopMatters Contributing Editor
One conversation, that is all it would take. Our main characters, surprisingly successful bank employee cum Euro-trash face transplant Johnny (the multi-hypenated and minimally talented Tommy Wiseau) and his borderline plump diabolical dream gal fiancé Lisa (Juliette Danielle), simply needed to sit down and talk out their obvious relationship issues, and everything would be right with the romantic world. He would see what a conniving and manipulative biz-nitch she truly is, and she would…well, probably have a hard time understanding his forged behind the Iron Curtain accent. Still, a little interpersonal palaver might have saved them - and anyone desperate enough to view their cracked kitchen sink drama - from the 100 minute nightmare known as The Room. As with most of what this abysmal movie stands for, the title makes about as much sense as the dozens of dangling (and still unresolved) plot threads.
Wiseau, who wrote, directed, produced, conceived, and still-bore this fascinating disaster is a money making maverick, his lead’s key career profile having something to do with savings and/or loans. His Johnny is so flush with the green stuff that he can keep the lumpy Lisa living in a swanky part of San Francisco (the apartment itself looks like a poorly furnished studio set - which it is) and also provide former adoption candidate, now wimpy college student Denny (Philip Haldiman) a place to live in the same building, as well as his full tuition. He is constantly buying is beefy beloved flowers and cheap hooker dresses, and while apparently swamped with important work, he always has time to hook up with BFF Mark (Greg Sestero) and toss around the pigskin. Of course, what our swarthy hero doesn’t know is that Lisa no longer loves him, she is telling everyone within earshot of same, is planning on halting their upcoming wedding, and now has her mad cow eyes (and loins) set on seducing Johnny’s bud. Why? Well…um…because, after all, she deserves it?
Oh wait, did we mention the drug deal gone bad and the rooftop confrontation between a tank top wearing hoodlum and the drippy Denny? Or that once mentioned, this absurd subplot is never mentioned again? Or how about the fact that Lisa’s braying buttinski of a mother, a true example of perpetually bad parenting, is suddenly diagnosed with breast cancer, only to have the life threatening ailment tossed off like one of the many clunky lines of dialogue and dismissed, never to be brought up again? What about Johnny’s promotion that never comes to pass? The accusations of abuse and drinking? The feigned pregnancy and reaction to it by all involved? In fact, if you peeled off all the random narrative potholes prepared by Wiseau and his batshit screenplay, the movie would last about ten minutes, and most of that would be taken up by Ms. Danielle dropping blou so she can show off her passable dirty pillows (yep - this is a movie with four, count ‘em four unattractive softcore sex scenes. Ew).
The reason The Room deserves its oft given current reputation as “The Citizen Kane of Bad Films” is apparent in every overreaching moment of Wiseau’s arch, manic effort. This is clearly someone who thinks he has tapped into the universal truths about the age old battle of the genders when all he really has is a backlog of bad experiences with American girls and a vindictive soul set on making each and every one of them pay, artistically. Wiseau paints Lisa as one of the most conniving witches since Salem, a horrific example of feminine wiles twisted into the serial killer version of the impeccably bad girlfriend - and then he goes and hires an actress who resembles Britney Spears more porcine white trash twin to play her. Ms. Danielle is required to carry the entire film, even with our blunderkind constantly showing up to make Johnny even more messianic, and while she might have the withers to bear the brunt, she doesn’t have the onscreen skills. By the time of the finale, when the disgusting dame has driven her man to…distraction, we can’t wait to see how Wiseau makes her pay. The answer is par for this pathetic film’s flaccid course.
That’s because our addled auteur doesn’t understand the first thing about rationale and/or consistent character motivation. One minute, Mark will be warding off Lisa’s lumbering advances like the thoroughly repulsed metrosexual man he is. The next, the soundtrack is laying in various moans and underleg noises as if Cupid himself were guiding the faux fornication between the two. The same applies to the equally confused Denny. One minute, he’s treating Lisa and Johnny like his parents. The next, he is hoping into their pre-connubial bed hoping to be invited to stick around and “watch” - and then, moments later, he confesses his love for someone named Elizabeth. Wha? Even Lisa’s mother, who unwaveringly stands up for Johnny’s good nature and overall well being eventually bad mouths him when he won’t give her needy friend the down payment for a house. The only reliable part of the proceedings is our hero, who is always painted as a misunderstood saint in Serbo-Croatian garb. Now, if we could only get Wiseau to open his eyes while “acting” everything would be kindergarten (he takes the adage “squint like Clint” to ridiculous extremes).
The result is a hodgepodge of hideousness, a collection of continuity errors and home move acting styles submerged into the $7 million (yes - it actually cost that much to make) psyche of a man who is convinced of his own value and vision. On screen. Wiseau comes across as the nicest of guys, a petter of puppies and kitties if ever there was one. But in the deep dark recesses of his regressive abilities, he’s the Jean-Luc Goddard of junk, a true master undermined by filmic forces far outside his modicum of creative control. You can see it in every bad greenscreen backdrop, in every random exterior panning shot of the Golden Gate bridge or moment of impromptu idiocy. This is a dude who believes he is making a grand cinematic statement. All he really accomplishes in the end is turning the viewer into a twittering pile of unresponsive grey matter.
If they had only had that conversation. If only Lisa had dropped her matronly mantra - “I don’t want to talk about it” - whenever anyone wanted to steer her in the right direction and get with the gab, perhaps we wouldn’t have to shack up in this particular Room. Then again, even if the ungrateful golddigger had told Johnny the whole truth, dragging Mark into the middle of their pre-sacrament discord to do a little diddling right in front of her future spouse, our nonplused hero would simply shrug his aging athletic shoulder, twist his eyes into an even thinner line of sight, and sigh in some incomprehensible language about his love for this bovine bimbo. And then they’d have really robotic fake sex.
In the dynasty of dung, among the many pretenders to the best worst movie throne, Tommy Wiseau and his oddly named tragedy truly earns its rotten rep. The Room may be only slightly better than a sharp stick in the eye, but the damage is equally irreparable. You’ll never forget how this fool and his movie money ended up going their separate ways. The proof is all over this particularly pungent motion picture pudding.
Rating: 4 WTFs