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Film Review: 'The Room' Accidentally Provides Good Laughs

Jen Winston |
August 23, 2010 | 12:54 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

"The Room", directed by Tommy Wiseau, 2003 (Image courtesy of Wiseau Films)
"The Room", directed by Tommy Wiseau, 2003 (Image courtesy of Wiseau Films)
If you’ve always wanted to participate in the cultural phenomenon of “Rocky Horror Picture Show” but never really understood the actual film’s appeal, you can stop questioning your hipster cred. There’s a new cult phenomenon, and its humor is hard to miss.

“The Room” is a film that probably went under your radar. A box office flop in 2003, critics have now dubbed it “the Citizen Kane of bad movies." While that title could leave viewers confused as to whether or not they should actually see the film—it’s a bad movie, right?—Everything is clarified after a quick glimpse at the “Flower Shop” clip.

One response to “The Room”’s terrible humor is that you just can’t make this stuff up. However, someone did, and not necessarily on purpose. Writer, director and producer Tommy Wisseau wrote the “drama” and financed its production with the profits from years of fundraising. He insists that the film’s horrible dialogue, abrupt character introductions and plot loopholes were intentional, but no one seems to believe him. Of course, it’s hard to take a man seriously when he compares the worst movie ever made to Tennessee Williams, as Wiseau did in the film’s promotional campaign.

From love scenes that go on for minutes to the trashy R&B that accompanies them, “The Room” will make you laugh harder than you knew you could. It embodies everything about our generation’s humor – laughter at someone else’s expense; awkwardness and its ability to fester; inside jokes that get better with time.

On top of being the funniest accident in the film industry, “The Room”’s popularity also goes hand-in-hand with another trend of the new millennium – interactive and participatory culture.

Whether you’ve seen it already or not, attending a screening of “The Room” (the last Saturday of every month at Laemmele Sunset 5 Theaters) will help you get the full experience.

Viewers have been driven to madness and incredible jokes by the absurdity of the film, and to see their inspired humor manifest itself in a series of rituals gives the flick an entirely new layer. Their chanting points out errors you likely wouldn’t have noticed on your own: after two new co-ed characters make out on screen for a few minutes, the male is introduced as “Michelle’s boyfriend,” and the audience shouts, “Who’s Michelle?” We are never given the answer to that question. If you’re lucky, you’ll even be able to catch Wisseau himself, who shows off his crazy in person in a Q&A beforehand.

If you do choose to attend a screening, verse yourself in “The Room” viewing guide. It will help you know when to throw plastic spoons at the screen to mock “The Room”’s paintings of cutlery, as well as cue you to yell “Cancer!” every time Lisa’s mother, who once subtly says that she “definitely has breast cancer” only to never mention it again, touches her daughter’s nose.

One YouTube video chronicles the reactions of viewers at a New York screening, most of who are astonished, inspired and impressed. Those reactions may seem too positive, but “The Room” really is so bad, it’s good. On top of being hilariously terrible the first time, the film just keeps on giving – countless Easter eggs and unseen errors are tucked into every scene.

Somehow, “The Room” manages to make us smarter by causing us to be aware enough to recognize stupidity. It revolves around an intelligent humor and ultimately flexes our intellects, leading us to a frightening conclusion—as upsetting as it may be, perhaps Wisseau is quite the artist.

Reach reporter Jen Winston here.



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