THE ROOM - The Best Worst Movie Ever Made

This Friday the 5th of August sees the return of ‘the best worst movie ever made’ to ‘The London Home of the Room’ - the Prince Charles...

This Friday the 5th of August sees the return of €˜the best worst movie ever made€™ to €˜The London Home of the Room€™ - the Prince Charles. Since first appearing at the cinema over two years ago the cult phenomenon written, directed, produced by and starring Tommy Wiseau has screened to sell out crowds of plastic spoon wielding, wig wearing, die-hard fans who quote along to the entire movie, screaming out hilarious retorts to awful dialogue, making witty observations, pointing out plot holes, bad camerawork, woeful editing and ultimately contributing to what is the most surreal movie experience you will ever have. You may be asking yourself, €˜what is The Room?€™ and €˜who is Tommy Wiseau?€™ And more to the point, €˜why would anyone in their right mind pay to watch a movie that is popularly described as the €˜worst film ever made€™€™? I shall attempt to answer these and any other questions that may be burning a hole in your head. €˜The Room€™ is the brainchild of €œAmerican€ Tommy Wiseau, who looks like a cross between Skeletor and Cher and speaks with an obscure foreign accent, that IFC described as €œBorat doing an impression of Christopher Walken playing a mental patient€. Little is known of Wiseau€™s origins other than what he reveals in interviews: he€™s an American; he attended film school in California and he€™s an American. Originally intended to be a play, then a novel, €˜The Room€™ became a film when Wiseau raised the six million dollar budget by selling t-shirts €“ supposedly, the story differs from person to person and Wiseau always flip-flops around the issue when pushed. The plot is straight from the pen of a (bad) soap opera writer: a love triangle between a guy, his girlfriend and his best friend. Johnny €“ the aforementioned offspring of Skeletor and Cher €“ is a high-flying banker, living happily in downtown San Francisco with his girlfriend Lisa €“ think Britney Spears in her cake for breakfast, cake for lunch, cake for dinner stage. Five minutes in, we are treated to a three minute long sex scene that is choreographed, lit and filmed in the fashion of bargain basement soft core porn and backed by the cheesiest soft-rock track available. Lisa and Johnny appear to have what the trailer describes as €˜the perfect life€™. But unbeknownst to Johnny, Lisa has the hots for his best friend Mark €“ a living, breathing, speaking Ken doll with added facial hair. After seducing Mark with candles, music and a sexy dress €“ the latter being the only one of the three that is actually (arguably) present in the scene €“ we have sex scene number two, which is equally as bad, as long and as graphic as the first. Mark is immediately regretful and gets Lisa to swear they will keep it a secret and never do it again. Lisa, however, has other ideas. There are no clever twists or surprising turns further along the narrative of €˜The Room€™, it simply goes the way you would expect: Lisa seduces Mark again, Johnny discovers Lisa€™s infidelity with his best friend and we get a tragic ending with Johnny turning into the Incredible Hulk and wreaking vengeance on innocent and unsuspecting pieces of household furniture. There are some supporting characters worth mentioning: Lisa€™s nagging mother whose announcement she has breast cancer is met with an impassive €œdon€™t worry about it, you€™ll be fine€ by her loving daughter. There€™s Denny, the innocent but creepy man-child who has his rent and college tuition fees paid for by Johnny and whose drug problem receives a huge intro in the shape of a gun-wielding drug dealer who attempts to kill him, but then is never spoken of again. Then there€™s Johnny and Mark€™s psychologist buddy Peter, who arrives on the scene half way through the movie, only to disappear after just two scenes. Produced in 2002, filmed concurrently on film and HD cam, because Wiseau €œdid not have sufficient information on either technology€ €“ which explains the dramatic contrast in certain scenes of the movie €“ €˜The Room€™ got a very limited release in 2003, where it was critically slaughtered. Variety called it €œa hopelessly amateurish, self-distributed directorial debut€. Had €˜The Room€™ simply been just a bad movie it would have certainly remained lost forever in the abyss of bad movies along with €˜Gigli€™ and €˜Phat Girls€™. Had it suffered merely from either a weak script or bad visual effects or amateur acting or poor direction, time may have overlooked it, along with €˜In the Mix€™ and €˜Son of The Mask€™. But the fact €˜The Room€™ misses the mark on every single aspect of filmmaking and suffers from the worst dialogue and worst acting you€™ll ever see, including all amateur dramatics, meant that when the initial viewers stopped laughing, dried their eyes and pulled themselves out of the theatres, they created such a fuss with word of mouth and mouse that after receiving over one-hundred emails Tommy Wiseau decided to screen the film at midnight on the last Saturday night of January 2004 in the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theater in Hollywood, Los Angeles, which he attended, selling merchandise before the performance and speaking afterwards. So succesful was the screening, that €˜The Room€™ has played there at midnight on the last Saturday of every month ever since, and continues to do so. The subsequent showings and then release onto DVD lead to clips being uploaded onto Youtube by fans and Tommy Wiseau himself, which all helped to fuel an internet buzz that spread like wildfire. I first became aware of €˜The Room€™ late last year, while on €˜youtube€™ I saw a link titled €˜The Citizen Kane of Bad films€™ and clicked on it. The scene I wactched was the infamous €˜Oh hi, Mark€™ scene, where Johnny is seen exiting onto the roof of his building, exclaiming€˜I did not hit her, I did not do it, I did not hit her, this is bullshit, I did not do it, I DID NOT€™, before turning to camera, seeing Mark, becoming isnatntly cool as a cucummber and saying €˜Oh hi, Mark€™. While this might not jump off the page, I assure you, the instant change of mood and tone when he sees Mark made me laugh more than I can recall at any other stand alone scene; I was hooked and had to see the film. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQ4KzClb1C4 I purchased the DVD from America €“ it€™s still only available in Region 1 format €“ laughed until I cried and then started to research the film€™s background. It was here I discovered the screenings and knew this was something I had to experience. You€™ve probably got friends who can, and will, quote along to €˜Monty Python€™, and you€™ve probably heard about or even attended sing-along showings of €˜The Sound of Music€™ or €˜The Rocky Horror Picture Show€™. But viewing of €˜The Room€™ in a movie theatre is something different; it is a full-blown interactive experience. The second the house lights went down a sea of plastic spoons were raised into the air; and silhouetted against the screen, they begun to clack in a hauntingly rhythmic tone like of some cult out of a horror movie. The significance of the spoons comes from framed paintings that are in the background of Johnny and Lisa€™s house. Whenever they appear on screen €“ and they do, a lot €“ the audience yell €˜Spoons!€™ and toss as many spoons as they can at the screen. Naturally, in a big theatre, such as the one at the Prince Charles, most do not reach their destination; so those that don€™t lambaste the back of your head, fall in your lap or at your feet and become your ammunition for the next surge. €˜SPOONS!€™ Spoons aren€™t the only accessories, American footballs are brought out of bags and tossed around the theatre when Tommy, Mark, Denny and Peter inexplicably decide to go and toss the football around an alleyway while wearing tuxedos. It€™s actually common to go dressed in tuxedos, to celebrate this wonderfully ambiguous scene. And it€™s even more common to don a tie, wrapped around your head, which the character of Lisa does in a scene where she gets drunk. But the real fun comes from the relentless shouting out of established phrases as retorts to dialogue. For example, any time Johnny says to Lisa, €˜you€™re my future wife€™, the audience shout€™ €˜wife of the future!€™ And any time one of the female characters makes a statement or asks a question, like the following €˜why can€™t I do what I want?€™ everyone yells €˜because you€™re a woman!€™ Whenever Lisa€™s cancer-ridden mother touches Lisa€™s knows as a sign of affection when she says goodbye €“ which happens countless occasions €“ you shout €˜she€™s putting her evil inside you!€™. It€™s also customary to shout €˜Hi, Denny€™ whenever the character enters, and €˜bye Denny€™ whenever he leaves. The same is often done for many of the other characters, simply because in €˜The Room€™ we are almost always shown a character€™s entrance and exit from a scene, with all other characters in the scene greeting them and bidding them adieu. Naturally in a movie with so many comings and goings there is lots of opening of doors; but surprisingly very little closing of them, which is why whenever a door is not immediately closed the audience burst into a series of €˜close the door!€™ which intensifies the longer it remains open €“ €˜CLOSE THAT F****NG DOOR!!!!!€™ On three occasions we are shown a wide shot of San Francisco, which pans in one direction. As it pans the entire audience chant €˜Go, go, go, go, go!€™ If the shot reaches the other side the audience erupts into cheers, if it cuts before doing so then there is a huge, collective groan. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mMyV2YQgAA But there is always someone who either wants to just watch the film or grows tired of the relentless riffing. One woman several rows behind me decided to express her distaste at the atmosphere; she didn€™t hold back with her insults to those in attendance and with her please for silence. She was met with a chorus of boos and one quick witted attendee cracked out the €˜keep your stupid comments in your pocket€™ line, later to be said on screen by the character of Mark. The cinema exploded into laughter and the woman was not heard from again. Maybe she left; I honestly don€™t know because I, like everyone else around me, was too enraptured in the experience. The one downside to €˜The Room€™ experience is the moral dilemma it poses; by paying the entry fee to the film you are essentially contributing money to the film€™s director, who is either a retarded, maniac who has no understanding of the conventions of film, or a cinematic genius who intentionally constructed the worst film of all time to achieve the infamy and cult following he now has. In any case, I have now seen the film in theatres twice with different groups of friends, watched the DVD four times and spent collective hours on youtube showing various clips from the film to people and the end result is always the same €“ I and anyone I introduce it to, have a great time, laugh until it hurts and spend hours discussing it. So if there is any truth behind what Mr. Wiseau continually says when quizzed about the point of his film - €œThe Room is a film with many layers that you should watch many times with friends. It€™s a film where you can laugh, you can cry, you can feel good, but please don€™t hurt anybody€ €“ then mission accomplished, sir. €˜The Room€™ is playing to sell out theatres around the world every week; to find out when it€™s showing near you next, visit - http://www.theroommovie.com - for optimum viewing pleasure, watch the film at home first, then attend armed with a sack of plastic spoons sporting a tie wrapped around your head and ready to scream yourself hoarse.
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Frustratingly argumentative writer, eater, reader and fanatical about film ‘n’ food and all things fundamentally flawed. I have been a member of the WhatCulture family since it was known as Obsessed with Film way back in the bygone year of 2010. I review films, festivals, launch events, award ceremonies and conduct interviews with members of the ‘biz’. Follow me @FilmnFoodFan In 2011 I launched the restaurant and food criticism section. I now review restaurants alongside film and the greatest rarity – the food ‘n’ film crossover. Let your imaginations run wild as you mull on what that might look like!