Movie Times Valut

The Room


by Richard von Busack

SAN FRANCISCO, city of mystery—and betrayal! Handsome, sensitive, muscular yet long-haired exec Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) seems to have it all: a view apartment with a rooftop patio, a "future wife" named Lisa (Juliette Danielle), a tuxedo and a football. Little does he know that one of these things will betray him.

As a compound fracturing of the promise of the independent cinema, as a gargantuan ego fest unheard of since Death, the Proud Brother silenced Florence Foster Jenkins, as Exhibit A in His Satanic Majesty's case for the damnation of John Cassavetes—The Room (2003) is already well known on the cult-movie scene. This is due no small part to Wiseau's energy. He four-walled and vanity-billboarded this home-brewed feature film in L.A. The Room's infamy was well established even before its midnight-movie appearance here (it made Metro's recent Top Cult Movies list). And it is perhaps the first movie to be considered one of cinema's worst, even though it lacks aliens, space zombies, masked wrestlers and trolls.

A new generation of snarksters ("Roomies") return again and again to admire the less-known snippets of hard-hitting dialogue ("I feel like I'm sitting on an atomic bomb waiting for it to go off") as well as the much quoted taglines. The most memorable among them: Wiseau's uncredited appropriation of James Dean's line "You're tearing me apart!" from Rebel Without a Cause.

It may be that The Room's particular, eh, stature, is due to central miscasting: Wiseau probably should have not starred himself, thanks to a distracting Euro-accent very similar to the chipper "Hello, everybody!" of monarch of malpractice Dr. Nick Riviera. It's not an easy task to simultaneously star in and direct a film, especially with the necessity of green screening in San Francisco.

Wiseau's uncertain timing tends to muss up lines that some more ordinary thespian might have made believable, and thus mediocre. Wiseau (and his beefy naked rump) are but the topping on this film's parfait. Give this movie some love; as Johnny says, "If a lot more people loved each other, the world would be better."