When a film is so horrendously awful that it fails to gross even a fraction of its budget, that’s one thing. But when said film suddenly sees an incredible surge as a global cult phenomenon due to exposure on the Internet–thereby turning its eccentric creator into a rockstar–and has most likely obliterated the original releases gross and budget due to re-release and tours…well, you get Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.
For those of you that aren’t as Internet savvy (or wisely avoid awful movies), The Room is a spectacle in awfulness. A seemingly simple story of an illicit love triangle sprawls into an epically stupid melodrama of lust and laughs. Loaded with scenes that go nowhere or are completely nonsensical, characters that have far too little screentime for development, and dialogue that is so sinfully quotable, this masterpiece of schlock and camp truly lives up to its title of “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” More interesting perhaps is the story of the movie’s creation. Cast and crew fired, tensions boiling, incomprehensible scripting, and a billboard advertisement left up for years after the movie’s release is all credited to the mad genius behind the film, Mr. Wiseau.
Serving as the film’s director, writer, producer, and star, Tommy Wiseau is an interesting filmmaker because he seems to have no clue as to what he’s doing. Not in an inept way, but in an…otherworldly way. With an indescribably European accent, vague origins, and a seemingly endless pile of cash, Mr. Wiseau’s magnum opus mainly derives from his bizarre lack of understanding of human behavior–and the fact that he claims to be a vampire and wears two belts because “it feels good on his ass.” (Greater accounts of Wiseau’s weirdness can be found in The Room co-star Greg Sestero’s book, The Disaster Artist, which is a fascinating and hilarious read).
Being a film student in Milwaukee, I naturally jumped at the opportunity to see The Room live at the historic Oriental Theater, and was ecstatic when I learned that Mr. Wiseau would be appearing in the flesh. After purchasing a copy of The Room on DVD as well as a stylish and classy “You’re Tearing Me Apart Lisa!” T-shirt…I saw him.
One friend related seeing Tommy Wiseau to “seeing a unicorn in its natural habitat.” After watching the movie, quoting it, and reading Sestero’s book it still never occurred to me that a real human was behind the making of this atrocity. And yet there he was, wearing sunglasses at midnight, a second belt harnessing his ass, and discussing film with a few other gentlemen. I waited in line and had to keep myself from squealing when he signed my DVD and shook his crooked hand.
The remainder of the night can be described as the most fun I’ve had in my entire life. After a rowdy viewing of the pilot episode of Wiseau’s Hulu series The Neighbors (which makes The Room look like a masterpiece), the vampire emerged for a Q&A session. One brave soul wasted no time in asking where Wiseau was from. Wiseau quickly retorted by saying, “You don’t like my accent, you get out. Ha ha! Woo!”
Followed immediately by a chant of “USA!”
Other pressing issues addressed were the schedule for The Neighbors episode releases (a question he danced elegantly around), if your sex appeal increases by wearing Tommy Wiseau brand underpants (60%…gotta get me a pair…), and if Tommy truly wants to direct the next Fantastic Four film, which he replied to with, “I saw Fantastic Four! It was fun, but I can do better…so, please, e-mail Fox!” And as he bowed from the stage, the lights dimmed for the showing of The Room.
The crowd went wild. People (including myself) shouted and cussed at the characters on the screen. We cheered, we booed, we laughed, and we screamed some more. People dressed in tuxedos and tossed around footballs. A man wearing only a pair of Twunderpants ran across the screen. Hundreds of plastic spoons were hurled at the screen and then back into the audience. And I personally conducted a masterful performance of “Happy Birthday, dear Johnny!” I left the theater at 3 AM feeling elated, and my throat ached for the entirety of the next day.
From a critical standpoint, The Room is garbage. However, watching it will almost guarantee you one hell of a time. See it with friends or loved ones and, if you ever have the opportunity, see it live.
It will tear you apart.
(Title image via).