“… but under all of its flaws it has undeniable heart; and that’s what makes it a good ‘bad movie’ to me.”
I like bad movies, but for me there is one prevailing factor that matters when it comes to my enjoyment: they have to feel earnest. I can watch a movie like Birdemic: Shock and Terror and love every minute of it, but as soon as something like Sharknado is forced on me I will revolt. I understand that movies are a business, and bad movies have proven to be cash cows when the formula strikes the perfect balance, but it just feel disingenuous to me. The Room is hailed by many to be the best worst movie ever made. Since its release in 2003 it has slowly but surely gained a massive cult following that has assured its place in pop culture history. With a budget of six million dollars, and an opening gross of a staggering $1,900, The Room would have been one of the biggest flops in film history had the seedy underbelly of comedians and film aficionados not gotten their hands on it. The Room is written, directed, and produced (along with pretty much everything else) by Tommy Wiseau; a man who, to this day is an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a blazer and some sunglasses. Now for complete transparency this is my first time ever seeing The Room, at least in full. Since it was introduced to me many years ago I have essentially watched the entire movie via clips on YouTube, but I had never actually had the courage to sit down and watch the movie from start to finish. Well yesterday I did, and honestly I was pretty surprised.
When people call The Room “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” I expected it to be fucking terrible. Like I’m talking, I would have to be put on suicide watch just to get through it. What I found, however, when I watched The Room wasn’t all that bad. Now I will be the first to admit that The Room has some fucking terrible scenes, and these are the ones that really gained traction on the Internet. The infamous flower shop scene, “Oh hi Mark”, “You’re tearing me apart Lisa”; all of these moments act as great punchlines, but not so much as representations of the film itself. Now don’t get me wrong, The Room is not a good movie. The acting is abysmal, the writing is atrocious, there is really weird editing and ADR throughout the film, there are gratuitous sex scenes and instances of nudity throughout the film, and the music choices were bizarre; but this is all stuff that has been discussed to death. So instead what I want to do in this review is discuss what I think makes The Room a better movie than people give it credit for.
First of all, The Room looks really great. Despite it being a notoriously bad film, it looks as though someone competent was actually behind the camera because instead of the usual static shots to save cash The Room actually features some dynamic movement. Now I could go into why I think it looks this way (there have been allegations that Tommy Wiseau was not the only director on The Room) but once again, this has all been discussed to death. As far as the story in the film goes, It’s easily the weakest link. The entire thing is boring, it makes absolutely no sense, and it essentially repeats itself for 90 minutes. Now in this darkness we can find light in a few different aspects, the first of which being the writing itself. Had The Room been written traditionally (read: by a human) it would have been a boring mess, but luckily it wasn’t. The way Tommy Wiseau wrote The Room is enough to keep you interested throughout. Almost every single line in this movie is quotable, and if there is one that isn’t then it will at the very least give you a chuckle. And all of this culminates into what is probably one of the darkest, least forecasted endings of a film I have ever seen. It’s just so bizarre.
I apologize if this review seems rather surface-level, but I struggle to talk about things that I feel have been talked about enough already. Yeah The Room is a terrible movie, but if you want to know why it’s a terrible movie (and you refuse to watch it for yourself) there are thousands of people online discussing that very detail. For me I was mainly surprised to find that it wasn’t as bad as I had assumed it would be. Sure it’s a fucking awful movie, but is it the worst movie ever made? No. There are movies that were widely released that I disliked more than The Room; it is far from the worst thing I have ever seen. It’s more akin to a weird fever dream, or what an alien’s approximation of human movies would be, and if you watch it with that in mind it becomes a lot more tolerable.
Overall The Room is a terrible movie, but it’s far from the worst I have seen. It has terrible acting, nonsensical writing, and enough sex scenes to make you thoroughly uncomfortable, but under all of its flaws it has undeniable heart; and that’s what makes it a good ‘bad movie’ to me.
I give The Room a B