A look at the world’s most popular awful film
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Columnist
The Room is informally known as “The Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Originally released in 2003, the movie is the brainchild of Tommy Wiseau, a man obsessed with Hollywood who refuses to say where he’s originally from. His trademark vaguely-European accent and strange vampiric mannerisms aren’t even the oddest things about The Room, a movie he wrote, directed, and starred in himself. Audiences were quickly fascinated with the sheer awfulness of the movie, and it continues to screen globally today as a cult classic.
What makes The Room so bad and yet so memorable? It’s the bizarre script and directing choices. Characters pop up and disappear into the plot without explanation, shots are out-of-focus or even recycled, and the lines make no sense, and are even often unintentionally hilarious. Telling the story of Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) and his fiancée Lisa (Juliette Danielle), who secretly cheats on him with his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero), The Room was intended to be a dramatic “film with the passion of Tennessee Williams,” according to one of its taglines, but ends up too confusing to have a clear genre.
After a character catches Mark and Lisa together, Mark snaps at him to “Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!” Literally every single character greets the other with “Oh hi, ___!” multiple times in each scene, made even more notable by the wooden delivery of the cast, many of whom had never been in a movie before. It’s tough to describe just how awful yet sincere this film is, as it must be seen to be believed.
As if the finished product wasn’t enough, Sestero went on to write a book, The Disaster Artist, detailing his experiences making the movie with Wiseau. If anything, the production was even crazier than the finished product. Among other factors, Wiseau fired and replaced most of the cast/crew repeatedly, made script changes during filming, and repeatedly built and demolished sets overnight instead of leaving them up or shooting on location “like a real Hollywood picture.” Hated by everyone else on set by the end, most were convinced the movie would never be released, leading to further technical and production errors.
The Room has attracted many celebrity fans, including James Franco after seeing it for the first time at The Rio Theatre in Vancouver. He went on to adapt Sestero’s book on the project, and The Disaster Artist film will be in theatres starting December 8. Starring James Franco as the legendary Tommy Wiseau himself and Dave Franco as Greg Sestero, The Disaster Artist will no doubt prove that truth is stranger than fiction. It’s the story of a failed yet successful filmmaker, doing everything wrong in filmmaking, as released by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Whatever Wiseau thought would occur with his picture, he probably never dreamt that he’d be played by James Franco almost 15 years later.
Truly the strangeness of The Room and The Disaster Artist is unlike any other Hollywood story. The Room may not have achieved the critical acclamation Wiseau intended, but it’s still enjoyed by millions worldwide. Audiences may be making fun of the picture, but Wiseau and other cast members regularly attend screenings, no doubt grateful for the attention and fame. There’s a beauty in the stories of The Room and The Disaster Artist, and one can’t help but cheer for Wiseau’s innocence and dreams even as he fails spectacularly. No doubt The Room will become even more popular after The Disaster Artist is released.