I was going to have to get here eventually, so let’s do it today. That’s right. Let’s talk about the 2005 film that is the Citizen Kane of bad movies: The Room.
For those of you blissfully unaware, The Room is a movie made by Tommy Wiseau. When I say it is made by him, I truly mean that he was there from the very inception. It was his mysterious six million that funded this project which he wrote, directed, and starred in as Johnny. The plotline is weak and yet somehow so complex: Johnny is a banker and can’t wait to marry, Lisa, his future wife. Meanwhile, Lisa is cheating on Johnny with his best friend Mark (played by Greg Sestero, whom I will return to shortly). The apartment in which Johnny lives is the eponymous “room” where everyone seems to come and go at all hours, including Johnny’s many other friends and neighbours, like the drug dealer who emerges for a handful of scenes and then disappears; the psychologist who does much the same; and Denny, a creepy neighbour who is clearly into Lisa and played by an older man but who is meant to be at least nineteen years old.
That’s a lot to take in. Just let these details wash over you.
In fact, maybe you should even watch the Cinema Sins video for The Room, which was my first true introduction to this masterpiece among masterpieces.
I am not being mean or cynical when I call this movie a masterpiece. I know that most people make fun of it; there are midnight screenings where people throw spoons at the screen like they once threw toast at the screen for Rocky Horror. This movie, in spite of being so terrible, has a huge following. There was a book written about the making of experience by Greg Sestero (told you I’d get back to him) and that book was then made into another movie, called The Disaster Artist, about this process and was nominated for an Oscar. (It did not win).
I love The Room. I’ve seen it all the way through once. I don’t go to those screenings, though, because I’m not much for audience participation like that–but I also don’t really want to make fun of this movie. I love it because I love it. I love it because Tommy Wiseau believed in himself so much that he made this movie. He submitted it to the Oscars for consideration. He took out a billboard ad for this movie, which cost him thousands of dollars a month for several months.
In short, Tommy Wiseau believed in himself so much that he made something huge–like a movie–and saw it through to the very end. That is incredible, and we don’t consider this enough. Yes, this movie is ostensibly bad. The plot does not make sense. The acting is stiff. And Wiseau seems to miss the nuances of human Reponses. But you know what? I don’t really care.
I think The Room should be watched, and should be spoken about, because of the sheer confidence of this man. He didn’t listen to a single person who said this was bad, that he couldn’t do this, and he just did it. His intentions don’t seem to be egomaniacal or aggressive, either. The depiction of him in Greg Sestero’s book shows him as a relatively unstable man, possibly involved in the mob, but otherwise just someone who deeply loves movies. Like, really loves movies. He loved them so much he wanted to make his own, and so, he did just that.
I can’t fault him for that. I don’t think anyone should. I actually think Wiseau is deeply inspirational, and when I’m having a hard time (especially related to ego ideals and other people’s judgement), I remember The Room. I often watch the Cinema Sins video, too, to give myself an added boost. Not to laugh at him, but to laugh with the absurdity of life in general, but a life that we are in control of at the end of the day.
If Wiseau can make a movie, and believe in himself so much, then surely I can do whatever was bothering me that day. Surely, I can keep creating too, like you should keep creating whatever your heart desires.
Whatever you make might be the Citizen Kane of bad films, but it might not be, either. You won’t ever know until you do it.
So do it! Then tell me about it. I bet it’s fantastic. J