The Brilliance of The Room. Yeah. You read that right.
The Room, not to be confused with 2015’s Room starring Brie Larson, has become a cult classic throughout the nearly two decennia it’s been around, but it didn’t receive that status for the reasons you’d want your film to be a cult classic. In 2003 Tommy Wiseau wanted to be what he’d always had wanted to be, namely an actor and a director. Before he got around doing so, he was a … well, he had quite a range of different professions. One of them is that he was the owner of a business that sold discount jeans. The funding for The Room came from that, but also supposedly by importing and selling leather jackets from South Korea. These different jobs earned himself a ton of money, money that he’d go on to spend on his lifelong wanted project: The Room. It cost him six million dollars to make this atrocity and in its openings weekend, the film only made a shy amount of a thousand dollars. Not exactly a box-office-hit. But as years went by the film started to gain more and more fans who liked the film, but for all the wrong reasons. Even to this day, there are still screenings of the film, where there’s the habit of throwing spoons at the white canvas, whenever a spoon appears on-screen. And let me tell you this, there are a lot of spoons shown in this film. People liked it that much, that by now the film has doubled its original budget.
“Did you get the promotion?” Lisa asks
To which Lisa says: “You didn’t get it, did you?”
I can already hear you thinking: why would this film deserve an article in The Brilliance of____? It’s far from a good movie and I’ve even called it an atrocity, so why does it have an article in this category? What is the brilliance of The Room? Is it the beautiful cinematography? Is it the wonderful acting or the Sorkin-level dialogue? Well no, it’s not any of those things, because the film doesn’t have any of those things. So let me explain why I’ve written an article about this film in this category. As I’ve said, the film has gained itself a following throughout the years, which is odd because the film is so badly crafted. But the reason why it’s odd is also the reason why it has received that big of a fanbase. It’s so bad, it’s good and to have that result, you must’ve done something right. What Tommy did right, was doing everything wrong.
The brilliance of The Room lies within the badness of it. The movie is so fundamentally broken in the core aspects of basic filmmaking, that it has become hilarious, which draws in a lot of people. The horrendous acting is hilarious to see on the silver screen and that in combination with the amazingly bad script written by the man himself, where the dialogue doesn’t make any sense whatsoever, creates a really funny, but unintentionally, comedy film. The film’s terrible, but the stupid story is the thing that gets people talking about it and spread the word which only widens up the audience. It’s quite a clever marketing strategy, but unintentional as Tommy Wiseau thought he’d made a good film. What only makes the film funnier than it already is, is the fact that it doesn’t even have the slightest self-awareness and it takes itself way too serious.
Each scene is a masterpiece in its own way. Well, not its own way because every scene is basically the same, with some exceptions. Every scene has the same construction. It starts with “Hi, what’s new?” or “Hi, how are you?” and ends with “I don’t want to talk about it”. The middle bit is just repetition of the previous scene. But the exceptions are the ones that stand out the most, it’s like a black area in a line of white. The infamous rooftop scene, or the “hi, Mark”-scene, where the dialogue is so terribly written and the green screen is absolutely atrocious to look at, is arguably the most famous scene out of the film. But the scene that stood out the most to me, was the flower shop scene. Everything in that scene is done wrong. Everything.
The scene is only twenty seconds long, but they managed to do quite a lot wrong. Let’s ignore the bad cinematography and immediately jump to the elephant in the room: the dubbing. Apparently, Tommy couldn’t remember his dialogue, which he himself had written, so they had to dub his lines in post production. Turns out they didn’t do that very well, to say the least. The things they’re saying don’t match the movements their mouths make, and the volume is the same level throughout. The lines follow each other up too quickly which only enforces the awkward feel of the scene it already had due to the bad dubbing. The dialogue in this scene, in particular, is incredibly bad. Of course, it starts off with “Hi”, as Johnny enters the store, followed by the cashier asking a normal question “How can I help you?” not particularly badly written words of dialogue, but the delivery is emotionless and flat and absolutely hilarious. Then the cashier notices it’s Johnny, so she says “Oh hi, Johnny, I didn’t know it was you”, to which Johnny responds “That’s me!”, but only after three or four seconds. Three or four. That’s probably the worst timing of a line delivery I’ve ever seen. And I love it. So then Johnny gets the flowers he wanted, to then ask how much it’ll cost, to which the cashier answers even before Johnny has finished his sentence. Again, perfect timing. After that little exchange, we get some cringy dialogue of Johnny saying “Hi, doggy” and the cashier saying “You’re my favorite customer” to which the scene ends.
This may seem like a rant about how bad the film is, but that’s not the point I’m trying to get across. While the film is so bad, it’s the bad aspects that make the film so good. It’s not a film that you watch seriously, it’s one that you watch ironically. And ironic enjoyment is pretty popular nowadays. To have a film that people can enjoy ironically and still get joy out of, while it’s absolutely terrible, you must’ve done something brilliant.
Images via: IMDb, YouTube