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01 May, 2014

Trash Palace Dumpster--Bobbie's Best of the Bad: Tommy Wiseau's The Room (2003)

Title:  The Room

Year of Release—Film:  2003

Year of Release—DVD:  2005

DVD Label:  Self-Distributed

Reviewer:  Bobbie Culbertson

Tommy Wiseau's THE ROOM (2003)

Man loves woman.  Woman cheats on man with his best friend.  Man confronts cheating pair, and then kills self.  There! I just saved you 99 minutes of mind-numbing dialogue, bad editing, dodgy scripting and punishingly bad acting.  Then why, ten years after its release, is this movie still playing in theaters nation-wide?  That fact is as incomprehensible as is the film’s title, The Room.


Wealthy banker Johnny (played by writer / director / actor Tommy Wiseau) is engaged to be married to the beautiful Lisa (Juliette Danielle) but, unbeknownst to him, Lisa has the hots for his handsome best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero).  Lisa confides in her mother Claudette (Carolyn Minnott) that she secretly longs for Mark's affections but her materialist mother tells her to stick with Johnny because he can offer her a more luxurious life-style than Mark.  Mother also tells Lisa that she has breast cancer but that it "will probably go away" and the subject is never mentioned again.  Lisa goes back to Johnny and they make slow-motion love despite the glaring fact that Johnny seems to have little idea of how that actually works.
Johnny is also de facto foster father to teenage neighbor Denny (Phillip Haldiman), who is severely boundary-challenged and is not-so-secretly in love with Lisa.  Johnny, Mark and Denny like to toss around a football on the building's roof.  And in the Park.  And while wearing tuxedos.  Lisa seduces Mark and they make slow-motion love on the stairs.  Lisa declares her love for Mark but Mark keeps reminding her that Johnny is his best friend.  Johnny and his friends toss around the ol' pigskin some more.

Lisa comes up with a plot to get Johnny drunk in hopes that he will hit her and she can break the engagement but he does not so she lies and tells everyone Johnny hit her.  Johnny, becoming suspicious of Lisa's actions and lies, sets up a secret tape recorder that catches Mark and Lisa engaging in some serious phone sex.  Lisa lies to Johnny about being pregnant. Later at Johnny's surprise birthday party, Lisa once again seduces Mark but this time they are caught by Johnny.  Furious at this betrayal by the love of his life and his best friend, Johnny pulls out a gun and kills himself. Mark yells at Lisa that he will never love her and Denny, collapsing on Johnny's dead chest, inconsolably sobs as the sounds of sirens alarm in the distance.  The end.
Just the facts

Tommy Wiseau's thick Eastern European accent is so incomprehensible that many of the film's scenes had to be dubbed.  And even though he wrote the script, he needed cue cards to help him remember his lines.  It took 32 takes for him to say the lines "It's not true!  I did not hit her!  It's bullshit!  I did not!  Oh, hi Mark!”
The film's budget was $6,000,000.  Tommy fully financed the film using profits gained from his sidewalk kiosk businesses that sold knock-off Coach purses and designer jeans, although Tommy claims he got the money importing leather jackets from Korea.  Part of that budget ($5,000 a month) was spent on putting up a billboard for the movie on Hollywood Blvd. that stood for five years.  Drew Caffrey is credited as executive producer and casting agent, despite having died three years before production began.

Audience reception

The Room premiered on June 27, 2003 at the Laemmle Fairfax and Fallbrook theaters in Los Angeles.  Ticket buyers were given free CD's of the soundtrack.  It played for two weeks grossing only $1,800 before it was pulled.  During one showing, the lone audience member was 5secondflms' Michael Rousselet who found the film humorous and he encouraged friends to attend its final showing.  Word of a second Rocky Horror Picture Show began spreading as audience members dressed as their favorite characters, tossed around footballs and threw plastic spoons at the screen (in reference to a framed spoon that sat on the coffee table in the film).  Fans began emailing Wiseau demanding a return of the film to theater screens.  Thus was The Room born to midnight showings.  Celebrity fans include Paul Rudd, Davis Cross, Will Arnett and Patton Oswalt.  The film eventually gained national and international cult status with Wiseau occasionally showing up at a screening.  This movie, once described by Variety reviewer Scott Foundas as so bad many audience members demand their money back after 30 minutes, has inspired a video game, a book and a traveling stage show. It was released on DVD December 2005 and on Blu-ray December 2012.

In Conclusion:

While the likes of 5secondfilms' Michael Rousselet found The Room to be the next Rocky Horror Picture Show and championed that cause, before you rush to the film's official website http://www.theroommovie.com/ and plunk down $33.00 for a Blu-ray copy, be advised that this film is nothing like Rocky Horror Picture ShowThe Room might be fun at an alcohol-fueled midnight showing with its plastic spoon throwing and football tossing, but in the privacy of your home, it's about as far from fun as it gets!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a lively film with music and dancing and a very strange if intriguing plot.  The Room is ... well ... boring!  While it might be fun for a short while trying to figure out what Johnny, with his thick and incomprehensible accent, is saying, that fun is fast-fleeting when you realize the acting is stiff and the plot nonexistent.  However, if my warning falls on deaf ears, save your money and go to a midnight showing.  Check your local paper for times and dates.  Who knows, Tommy Wiseau might be in attendance!


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