Screen Jeers: ‘The Room’

Dan: O hai, Caryn! What terrible movie are we talking about this week?

Caryn: O hai Dan! You know I cannot tell you. It is confidential. Anyway, how is your sex life?

Dan: Was that dialogue unbelievably awkward? Would any sane person talk like this? No? Then it fits right in with this week’s movie, Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room.” When the subject of “worst movie ever made” pops up, a few films have to be included in the conversation. “Birdemic.” “Manos: Hands of Fate.” This is the company with which “The Room” belongs.

This disaster of an urban drama (renamed a “black comedy” once the negative feedback started flowing in) has spawned a ton of memes and social events for people to reflect upon what a hilarious mess it is. Go ahead and name any category in basic film-making, and I can give you at least three examples of how “The Room” botched it. Characters, cohesion, music, dialogue (oh, especially the dialogue), tension, staging … it’s all poorly executed, and it all makes for a fascinating film.

Caryn: It’s so difficult to call this a “bad movie” in the traditional sense because what makes it “bad” is what makes it so riotously hilarious. You certainly won’t see Pat and Erin chat about “The Room” in their occasional discussions about “Screen Gems.” “The Room” is not a work of art by any stretch of the imagination. But it has such goofy attributes, you can’t help but love it out of pity.

“The Room” is about a presumably wealthy banker named Johnny who is happily engaged to manipulative scheming blonde, Lisa. Lisa cheats on Johnny with Johnny’s best friend, Mark, then proceeds to tell absolutely everyone about it, including her mother and her best friend Michelle. Johnny has an idea Lisa is cheating on him and decides to record her phone calls. No one tells Johnny about his fiancee’s misadventures until he catches Lisa making out with Mark at his birthday party. Lisa leaves Johnny and Johnny kills himself after playing a suggestive phone conversation Lisa has with Mark. Other story arcs include Lisa and Johnny’s friend Denny being involved in drugs and Lisa’s mother being diagnosed with breast cancer. Both sub-plots last about five minutes of the almost-two-hour movie, with no definite resolution to either of them.

Dan: Really, the main plot of this movie takes up about five minutes, as well. Lisa doesn’t love Johnny anymore, so she cheats on him a bunch. And that’s about it. Do we know why she suddenly stopped loving him? No; the closest thing to a reason we get is Lisa saying, “He’s just so boring,” and Johnny failing to get a promotion. Riveting.

So what makes up the rest of this movie? So much padding that even a hockey goalie would be like, “Whoa, easy does it!” What this movie gives us are a bunch of random scenes from these random people’s lives (lives which, by the way, never seem to get a big enough budget to leave that one apartment for more than two minutes). We see Johnny buy flowers for Lisa. We see the boys toss a football around an alley, the roof and a park, all at different points in the so-called narrative. (And one of those times, everyone is wearing a tux. Because everyone knows the best way to enjoy throwing the ol’ pigskin is to do it in an expensive, rented suit.)

Caryn:I think the most glaringly unfortunate part of the film is the dialogue, combined with the shoddy acting. In one scene, Mark complains to Johnny about his abysmal luck with women. In another scene, Johnny follows up with Mark about his dating adventures by asking, out of the blue in a moment completely unrelated to the conversation, about his sex life. In another scene, Lisa is conversing with her mother, Claudette, when Claudette says, ” I got the results of the test back – I definitely have breast cancer,” delivering the line in such a way it would seem she was talking about the weather.

You might find quotes from “The Room” peppered throughout pop culture in the form of internet memes such as this one.

The dialogue and shoddy acting are also what make the movie enjoyable. Johnny begins every conversation with an awkward “O hai,” and the acting is so bad it’s almost slapstick. In one scene, when Mark and Johnny get into a fight, it’s really no more than a wimpy shoving match. It’s funny, but it would be unacceptable in a film that aspires to win an Oscar.

Dan: You know what really ruins all those enjoyable moments, though? The approximately 20 minutes devoted entirely to awkward and gratuitous sex scenes. No joke, there were at least four moments in this movie where everything comes to a complete halt so Lisa and either Johnny or Mark could get it on. And each time it happens, the audience knows exactly what’s coming for the next three to four minutes: shifty grins, a lot of rolling around, awkward kissing and horribly framed shots that undoubtedly were supposed to be artsy. It’s no different any time (except the one time Lisa and Mark take it to the stairs, but that actually made it worse), and as the entire length of a cheesy pseudo-love song plays, all the audience can think about is when any kind of tension or drama is coming.

Caryn: Yes, I feel we have to discuss this because in any normal movie, the filmmakers at least leave some of that nonsense to the imagination. The camera would pan out and the screen would fade into maybe the pillow talk afterward or the awkwardness of leaving the morning after.

I’m not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, but in “The Room,” the four sex scenes were so long, they made me uncomfortable. As soon as the corny music starts up and Tommy Wiseau gets naked, you might want to get off the couch and maybe make yourself a plate of nachos because by the time you come back, it might be close to being over. The sex scenes could have been removed completely from the movie and no one would have missed them.

In fact if you took out every redundant, useless scene in this move, it wouldn’t have been any longer than an infomercial.

Dan: You hear that, movie? Your ridiculous, pointless scenes ARE TEARING US APART!!!

Caryn: Very funny. It’s always wonderful when you can insert quotes from bad movies into every day discussion.

This graphic from thebolditalic.com outlines essentials fans must bring to any screening of “The Room.”

 

There’s a little indie theater in Pittsburgh that shows “The Room” on the third Saturday of each month. I’d be interested in going to the movies in costume, throwing plastic cutlery, eating pizza and playing football with others standing only three feet away from me. Since “The Room” has obtained cult status, akin to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” you can do those things. Also I’ve heard Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero show up at some of the screenings. While I don’t like “The Room” as a film, I appreciate the following it has cultivated.

Razzie Love

Caryn: So Adam Sandler and his movie, “Jack and Jill,” swept the Razzies with 10

“Jack and Jill” swept the Razzies, winning all 10 awards, including Worst Picture.

wins this year, including Worst Picture. The winners are entirely based on paid members voting, and I expected them to mix it up a little with their votes.

I voted for the fourth “Twilight” movie in nearly every category I could. I saw “Breaking Dawn: Part 1″ in theaters and I thought it was one of the most awkwardly horrible films made last year. Taylor Lautner is a terrible actor and he has the worst speaking voice I think I’ve ever heard. The entire premise of the film series is so vapid and sends such a destructive message about adolescent dating relationships that I, in all seriousness, fear for society whenever I have the misfortune of witnessing it.

The two exceptions I made were for Worst Actress and Worst Couple. I voted for Sarah Jessica Parker for Worst Actress because she was in that “I Don’t Know How She Does It” movie and her acting in the trailer made me not want to see the movie.

I voted for Shia LaBoeuf and Rosie Huntington-Whitely as Worst Couple. Not only did they look weird together in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” (Rosie is a few inches taller than Shia) but both people on their own acted horribly. Shia LaBoeuf plays a wishy-washy character and Rosie Huntington-Whitely plays his flaky girlfriend. It was a major mistake to cast a Victoria’s Secret model (or any non-actor) in a movie in any capacity, but Rosie was especially pathetic in “Transformers.”

I regret not seeing “Jack and Jill” before voting, because I’m guessing I probably would have agreed with the masses who were voting for it. It’s definitely on my list of bad movies to see, and maybe we’ll be back to have an interesting conversation about it the next time Adam Sandler is plotting one of his box office bombs.

Dan: I knew as soon as I saw a trailer for “Jack and Jill” that it was going to do well at the Razzies, hence why I picked it for both Worst Picture and Worst Actor. (I was tempted to pick Sandler as my Worst Actress, as well, but that wouldn’t have been fair to Kristen Stewart. She really, REALLY deserved it.) When was the last time it’s been a good idea to cross-dress for a lead role? Tyler Perry, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Robin Williams … I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other actors who have found out the hard way that dressing up as a woman does not, in fact, equal comedic gold.

As for the other categories, I had to go “Twilight.” You’re right, Caryn; the so-called “love” triangle in those movies is horrifying. And it’s also hilarious, especially when you can tell the actors are trying so hard not to crack up laughing at their ridiculous lines. Something tells me we’ll be diving deeper into the realm of sparkly vampires in the future.

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One Response to Screen Jeers: ‘The Room’

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