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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Room is the real deal

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OK, last night I finally went to one of the Plaza's monthly showings of The Room, a 2003 independent film that has become a cult sensation and the most recent claimant of the title of the worst movie ever made.

How bad is it? It's gloriously, resplendently, wonderfully bad. And I loved every minute of it. The Room is the only movie I've seen that honestly lives up to the billing of being "so bad it's good." That's because it was made with the kind of old-fashioned ineptitude that's impossible to fake. Every aspect of this film is god-awful: the nonsensical dialogue, the excrutiating acting, the laughable soft-core sex scenes, the in-and-out-of-focus camerawork, the disappearing plot points.

The focal point of the film is star/director/writer/producer Tommy Wiseau, whom Curt Holman has previously, and quite accurately, described as looking like "the kind of mob henchman Jean-Claude Van Damme would kick in the face in the first reel." Wiseau's Johnny is caught in a love triangle with his "future wife," Lisa, who's having an affair with pretty-boy Mark, whom, we're frequently reminded, is Johnny's best friend.

Leaving The Room, I had many questions:

  • Nearly all of Wiseau's lines seemed to be looped, that is re-recorded, but how could his heavily accented delivery possibly have been any worse the first time?
  • Were Adam Samberg's facial expressions from the "Jizz in My Pants" video inspired by the actor playing the frat boy with the frosted tips who gets a hummer on Johnny's couch?
  • Why does Lisa's mother reveal her breast cancer diagnosis with the same level of irritation you might experience at realizing you're out of toilet paper?
  • Is Johnny's surrogate son, Danny, supposed to be mildy retarded or is the acting actually that bad?

  • How did the other "actors" manage to keep a straight face trading dialogue with Wiseau?
  • What kind of idiot would give Wiseau $6 million to make this fiasco?

A guy sitting behind me said he's seen The Room at least two dozen times. I can see how it could be addictive. But do not, under any circumstances, see the film as Curt had to: on video by yourself. It must be viewed, for the first time at least, with an appreciative audience like the one at the Plaza, where folks shouted out responses to insipid dialogue, threw plastic spoons in the air whenever a framed photo of a spoon on Johnny's table came into view and knew all the words to the original songs that play during the many, gauzy humping scenes.

For a scene-by-scene analysis of The Room, IFC offers a hilarious primer. And don't worry, knowing the "plot" will not make this movie any less deliciously terrible.

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