By contributor Patrick Zabriskie
Stars: ☆☆☆☆ (That’s zero, folks)
Summary: Ouch! This movie is so bad it physically hurt me!
Review: I recently attended a screening of ‘The Room’ at Indiana University, followed by a question and answer from its producer, director, writer, and star, Tommy Wiseau. For those of you who don’t know, ‘The Room’ has been critically deplored as one of the worst films ever made, although this same notoriety has given it a massive cult following; a following that, unfortunately, I am contributing to by reviewing it. Oh well, no choice now but to dive in and look over this pathetic excuse for a movie.
To understand ‘The Room’ you must first understand its creator. That is, IF you can understand him, as Mr. Wiseau, who claims he’s American, speaks in a strange accent I’ve never heard before. Watered down French perhaps? It’s hard to tell, as coupled with his accent he also mumbles, slurs his words, and shows little more than a basic grasp of English in general. In short, he is woefully inarticulate. What business he had writing a movie in English, to say nothing of overseeing its complete production, is beyond me.
Even without viewing the screenplay, I could tell it was a joke. Awful dialogue and plot holes big enough to drive a truck through. Less than half of anybody’s lines in this movie are relevant; the rest is either ridiculous, filler, or contradictory. But it goes beyond just bad dialogue and inconsistency. The film’s very premise, a dark romantic comedy, is filled with so many clichés that, even if everybody’s lines and the plot holes were fixed, this would still be a horribly generic movie. It seems as though Mr. Wiseau pulled out every trope he could think of and just stuck them in here. The tragic lead actor, the cheating girlfriend, the best friend of the lead who steals his woman, the kid caught up with a drug dealer, and so much more. Oh, and have I mentioned the love scenes yet? Yes, there’s gratuitous sex in this film too. In fact there are seven (count ‘em seven!) different scenes; each of them way too long, going way too far, and being, frankly, mundane as they come. I made fun of Mr. Wiseau’s speaking earlier, but this goes beyond a simple misunderstanding of English. This man did not have an original thought in his head when he wrote this. Granted, no one is ever truly original, but this is just flat-out pathetic and lazy.
Now you might think that this film is all Tommy Wiseau’s fault, but bad movies of this magnitude can only be the result of a collaborative effort. ‘The Room’ stars the sorriest bunch of would-be actors I’ve ever seen. Their paper-thin performances have to be seen to be believed. Granted, I know the script was hardly deserving of good acting, but I have to believe that, with so many struggling performers in the world, those who get parts have to at least try. But no, not here. Blank expressions, monotonous delivery, and lack of any perceivable emotion run amok like a plague. Amazingly though, even compared to the other actors, Tommy Wiseau is still under-qualified to act in this film. His speech, which doesn’t improve when he acts, is just ridiculous and dismal, and there is no time when he seems convincing. Supposedly he took drama classes before making this film. He should’ve gotten his money back.
And then there’s the cinematography. The cameraman was certainly apathetic and possibly inebriated when he shot this film. Apart from nothing striking or interesting about the shots, there are way too many random pans of San Francisco, including several across the San Francisco Bridge. Why? Who knows? For example, a scene will take place at the central house, the film will cut to a pan across the city, and then it will cut right back to the house. Again, why? What was the point?
Interestingly enough, the music in this film is the one thing that is passable. Don’t get me wrong, it’s mediocre as mediocre can be, but its corny piano tracks and obscure hip-hop songs are tolerable, if only barely. It’s sad that lukewarm music seems okay in this movie, but it certainly feels like a breath of fresh air.
So what is the final verdict on ‘The Room’? It fails. It fails so hard it almost seems impossible. It is the one film that does nothing right, and I mean nothing. There is not one aspect of this film that’s done well. Even similarly derided films, like ‘Battlefield Earth’ or ‘Batman and Robin’ at least had premises and visuals that would hold you over for a bit, but ‘The Room’ doesn’t even have that going for it. This film is boring at best and unbearable at worst. Granted, many have found humor within the awfulness of ‘The Room’. Tommy Wiseau, even, has rebranded it as a black comedy. Certainly, some scenes and lines are funny, but that doesn’t save this film. Some movies are legitimately so bad that they’re great, but this film is just so bad that it’s, well, bad.
The true importance of ‘The Room’ is this: to show the world everything NOT to do when making a movie. Never half-ass a script, never think that “generic” is okay, never hire bad actors, and never hire a bad crew. Filmmakers, take those lessons to your grave. Most importantly, never just assume anything when making a film. ‘The Room’s greatest flaw is its creator’s arrogance, a man who managed to raise a whopping six-million for this film, had only minimal experience making movies, and just thought he could create a decent picture. I hate to kick a feller when he’s down, but if you filmmakers out there take anything away from ‘The Room’, don’t repeat Wiseau’s mistake; please show some humility, and always, always, always give a damn.