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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Room

If we're awarding stars based on sheer camp value and enjoyability, then this would have been the easiest four star review I'd ever written. But, we're not, and it isn't. Therefore, we treat this as we would any other film. 

As a critic, I think that the most important part of the job is to be able to assess a film's worth, piece by piece. That means the acting, writing, cinematography, directing, all the down the list until you hit make-up and the key grip. (pro-tip: a key grip is in charge of shadows and camera rigging, basically). Unfortunately, once you're at least 30-seconds into The Room, a now midnight masterpiece written, directed, starring, and produced by shaggy auteur Tommy Wiseau, you'll realize that even the key grip didn't show up for rehearsals. 

It's astute, really - making something so bad that it's perfect. Sometimes, movies are just plain bad. Take Pumpkin; the film that, for nine years, I championed (?) as the worst movie ever made. Or, even, this year's Red Riding Hood, which dethroned it. Barely, but damn. When I judge whether a film is truly awful, there's one factor I have to consider. Were the filmmakers actually trying? Wiseau himself claims that the film is an intentional black comedy, and that this was the reaction he was expecting. But, there have been, albeit anonymous, reports from cast members that Wiseau is genuinely a few french fries short of a Happy Meal and that this was a serious attempt at filmmaking. I don't think we'll ever know, to be perfectly honest. Consider - the original writer of The Rocky Horror Picture Show said the same thing. And look at it now. 

Our "film" centers on Johnny. He's a banker, apparently (we learn that about thirty minutes into the movie, I think). He's engaged to Lisa, who... is in computers? Or maybe she just plays on the computer, as she never leaves the apartment. But, Lisa is having an affair with Johnny's best friend Mark. Mark does nothing, even though he always tells people that he's busy. There's Lisa's mother, who has breast cancer, but is constantly told not to worry about it. There's Denny, Johnny's all but adopted weird kid neighbor who apparently sells drugs, I think maybe. And there's that one guy in the end. And that's all we know about that one guy. 

This movie, for all intents and purposes, was written on post-it notes, shredded in a moment of blissful realization, and then reassembled when the demons repossessed Wiseau's body. 

In all actually, it's hard to review a film like this. I can simply say "wtf" and leave it at that, but that almost wouldn't be fair. For a film as jaw-droppingly awful and near-blatantly infuriating, there has to be something more I could say. I could detail the film's excessive plot holes - such as the disappearance of a supporting character in the middle of a scene that is never explained. I could call it this generation's Manos: The Hands of Fate. I could denote the musical choices for the four sex scenes that take place in the same half hour. I could talk about Tommy Wiseau's nude shot. Or how Lisa is consistently called sexy and beautiful through out the film. Or how Johnny is the most. friendly. guy. ever. 

Or I could say the one positive thing I could about the film. While over the top as hell, that's pretty much what it feels like to be cheated on. They got that right. 

Everything else? Don't worry about it.