Since it first premiered in the summer of 2003, Tommy Wiseau’s debut feature “The Room” has been lambasted by critics worldwide, with it being labeled the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” On the one hand, how could one argue against such a valid opinion? On the other, I have to wonder, “why am I so enthralled by a film that fails on every possible level?”
The narrative, if you can call it that, centers firmly on the life of Johnny, played haphazardly by one Tommy Wiseau who also serves as the film's writer, producer, & director. Johnny leads a seemingly happy life until his whole world starts unraveling when his future wife Lisa (Juliette Danielle) begins having an affair with his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). While the basic plot seems harmless, Wiseau's script pushes things to intelligible levels; subplots are introduced & abandoned almost instantaneously, character's motivations & personifications change in a bipolar manner, and certain scenes come across as pointless & forced, serving as a source of amusement to Wiseau & Wiseau alone.
In terms of acting, most of the actors did what they can with the given material they had to work with. However, it is Tommy Wiseau's portrayal of Johnny that shines as the highlight of The Room (for better or worse) It was obvious that Wiseau was inspired by James Dean, so much so that he borrowed/ripped off Dean's famed "you're tearing me apart" scene from Rebel Without a Cause. But while James Dean was a charisma magnet, Tommy Wiseau was something else all together. Not once during the film's 99 minute run time did Wiseau display a shred of conviction. On the contrary, even the simplest of lines proved to be a challenge for our misguided protagonist, with his range of emotions shifting from befuddled to arguably sociopathic. It truly is a performance to behold.
With all that in mind, why do I still gravitate to The Room like a moth to a flame? The simple answer is that for all its faults, this movie has more heart then a good chunk of recent releases. To me, The Room is more then a muddled mess in celluloid form, it is the story of one man who, despite his infinite shortcomings & lack of any noticeable talents, rose against the odds & created a cult classic that, ten years later, is still celebrated in theaters across the World. In making one of the worst films of all time, Tommy Wiseau unknowingly created a comedy-of-errors that is genuinely one of the most entertaining cinematic experiences I've had the good fortune of taking in. This is definitely a movie best experienced amongst a group so do yourselves a favor & round up a few of your friends, amass a mini stockpile of assorted junk food, & prepare to find out why such a bad movie has become a transcending cultural phenomenon.
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