This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “The Room.”
The Movie: “The Room”
Starring: Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero
Director: Tommy Wiseau
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) Johnny is a successful banker who lives happily in a San Francisco townhouse with his fiancee, Lisa. One day, inexplicably, she gets bored of him and decides to seduce Johnny’s best friend, Mark. From there, nothing will be the same again.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 32 percent
Brown: Folks, we got a lot to unpack this week.
I legit forgot that we reviewed “Saturday Night Fever” because “The Room” demands that much attention. I’ve known about “The Room” for years and it’s reputation as the “Citizen Kane” of bad movies (coined by an assistant professor at our alma mater, St. Cloud State University). Countless YouTube channels that look at bad movies have gone over this one.
I thought I knew what to expect. But to see all 90-plus minutes of this Hindenburg… it was like a religious experience. I’m honestly having issues on how to describe this beautiful disaster of out-of-focus camera work, incoherent story and dialogue so bonkers that a conversation between Furby toys seems like “My Dinner with Andre” by comparison.
I had an idea of what was coming. But Froemming, he went into “The Room” blind. How was that for you, friend?
I had no idea what to expect. I have had friends for years tell me I needed to see this film, and for whatever reason, I never got around to it.
Brown: When we started doing the JOE-DOWN, this was brought up almost immediately by a couple friends. So, Therese, Maureen… from me, to you.
Froemming: There are movies that are so bad, they are good. This movie is the rare occasion, for me, of being so bad it is a (REDACTED) masterpiece. I barely took notes watching this, I was so baffled and entertained by what I was watching. Hell, in wanting to know more about it, the next day I bought “The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero (who plays Mark in “The Room”) about the making of this movie. And if you ever thought the making of this was probably nuts, you would be 100 percent correct. As I collect myself with framed pictures of spoons, Brown, why don’t you get this started?
Brown: Well, we’re greeted right away with a bunch of establishing shots of San Francisco, and my immediate thought was that if the climax of this movie was burning down the “Fuller House” home, this would all be worth it.
Instead, we get our lead Johnny (Wiseau) walking into the house. And the first line of this film is “Hai, babe.”
… This is gonna be good.
We get some stilted dialogue as Johnny gives a red dress to his
fiancee future-wife Lisa (Danielle) and all of a sudden, the weird neighbor kid Denny just Kramers his way into the house. Johnny and Lisa not-so-subtly tell Denny they’re going upstairs to go have sex. And what does a young 18-year-old unattended boy like Denny do? He chomps down an apple in record time and (deep breath) starts pillow fighting with Johnny and Lisa because “I like to watch you two.”
We’re not even five minutes in and my jaw has hit the floor.
Johnny and Lisa have gratuitous (almost graphic) sex for the length of a faux-Boyz II Men song. And just so we’re clear, there are THREE gratuitous sex scenes in the first 30 (REDACTED) minutes!
Froemming: Because I went down the rabbit hole in reading up on this film, apparently Wiseau intended for Denny to have a mental illness. Something he didn’t include in the script nor told the actor about.
Brown: That would require context. This movie provides none. This movie is 90 minutes of gross sex scenes and establishing shots of San Francisco.
Froemming: Also, during the first sex scene between Johnny and Lisa, Johnny is humping her stomach. I…don’t even know how that is supposed to work.
But after this, we learn that Lisa is no longer in love with Johnny. Why? The (REDACTED) if I know. She just says it while talking to her mother. Also, we soon meet Mark, a character the film reminds us every chance it gets that he is Johnny’s best friend.
A best friend who sleeps with Johnny’s future-wife! And yes, they never use the terms “fiance” and “fiancee.” In Tommy Wiseau’s world, people are future-husbands and future-wives. I have no idea what planet this man is from.
Brown: OK, so first, the conversation(s) with the mom. The whole thing is so (REDACTED) insane because you watch as this old woman mansplains to her daughter about how she’s pretty much a useless sack and she needs to marry Johnny because he’s a provider and he takes care of her. It’s supposed to be this mother caring about her daughter’s well-being but it’s always so condescending.
So naturally, Lisa will resent that and she’s going to go with her inhibitions. So she calls Mark and calls him babe before we’re even introduced to the guy. Look, I’ll be cute with my lady friends, but I’m not calling them babe or any other pet names at the start of a phone call. I assumed Mark and Lisa were hooking up before that.
Nope. Lisa seduces Mark after minutes of “No, I can’t do this, Johnny’s my best friend.” And they have sex on a spiral staircase. Folks, I lived in an apartment with a spiral staircase. The logistics of that… it felt like an ice pick stabbed my temple just for contemplating it.
Froemming: I will give it one thing, it is at least consistent with the film having no logic.
Anyway, we next see Johnny walking into a flower shop. This is a 30-second scene that has no business existing, but I could not imagine the film not having it. Johnny walks to the counter, the woman says she almost didn’t recognize him (FACT: There is nobody on earth that remotely resembles Wiseau. NOBODY!)
Brown: I wrote in my notes that Tommy Wiseau looks like a Johnny Ramone action figure that got melted in the microwave.
Froemming: After he pays for the flowers, the woman says he is her best customer. SHE JUST ADMITTED TO NOT RECOGNIZING HIM! Also, the audio was out of sync in this scene, and she says it almost as an afterthought.
I love this (REDACTED) movie.
And we come to the THIRD sex scene in 30-minutes. And the lead up to this one is mind-blowingly weird.
Johnny comes home and tells Lisa he didn’t get the big promotion. What does Lisa suggest? Let’s get hammered. The problem is Johnny doesn’t drink. Why? Well, Lisa combines scotch and vodka — warm. If my experience with alcohol was that, I wouldn’t drink either.
Brown: One thing I need to address, because this made me want to vomit more than the scotch-vodka cocktail. Before Johnny comes home, Lisa is ordering a pizza: Half pineapple and Canadian bacon. Half artichoke and pesto, light on the cheese.
What unholy abomination did they just order? A pizza place, out of principle, should not create that. And what do they have when they shoot the scene? A regular cheese (REDACTED) pizza.
The only explanation I have about this movie: Everyone is under the spell of a surly, vengeful wizard.
Froemming: Rifftrax summed this up perfectly: It is Domino’s famous WTF Special.
So, this leads to another R&B slow jam sex scene, which was made up of outtakes from the first one because the actress was uncomfortable with filming another one with Wiseau. No (REDACTED), I would have vomited seeing his bare butt in person.
Brown: WE ARE ONLY 25 MINUTES INTO THIS MOVIE!
Froemming: The best part: Everything after this scene up to the birthday party has no real connection to the story. I am not making this up.
And because this movie made me lose sense of linear time, was it after this that Lisa’s mom confides in her daughter that she has cancer? And is it a big plot point? And does Lisa just BURY THE (REDACTED) LEDE ON THAT BOMBSHELL? 1. Don’t remember. 2. No. 3. Absolutely.
Brown: The mom’s line: “I got the results of the test back. I definitely have breast cancer.” And they DISMISS IT IMMEDIATELY.
And you know what, that’s not the dialogue that bugs me the most here. Lisa talks about how Johnny didn’t get the promotion, he got drunk the night before then Lisa lies by saying Johnny hit her.
What would a caring mother do for her daughter in her time of need? Offer support? Nope. Her response: “Johnny doesn’t drink!”
You would think Lisa’s mom is an attorney for Fox News with this kind of response to spousal abuse (fake or not).
Froemming: If I learned anything from this film, it is that Tommy Wiseau never had a normal human conversation in his life prior to making this movie.
And now we come to a scene that was so baffling that Lisa’s mom became my avatar. We see two people walking into Johnny and Lisa’s apartment and start having awkward sex with a box of chocolates. Who are they? At this point, I had no (REDACTED) clue, this was the first time I saw them. Then Lisa and her mom walk in and the mom says “Who are these characters?” Thank you, Claudette, I was wondering the same (REDACTED) thing!
Brown: I would think that this scene happened because Tommy Wiseau has some European mindset about sex that is just more open-minded than us Americans, but no one knows Tommy Wiseau’s origins, so who the (REDACTED) knows.
Froemming: He tells people he is from New Orleans. His accent suggests he is probably from Mars.
Brown: From one pointless scene to another, let’s get to the drug scene on the rooftop. We see Denny in an argument with Chris-R, who is the prototypical drug dealer/thug from the early 2000s, complete with sidearm gun aiming. We have no idea what Denny is doing with drugs, naturally. But, we see Johnny and Mark jump to the rescue and get Chris-R off Denny and into jail? Like, they drag Chris-R away and they return two minutes later. They never explain anyone’s careers in this movie (well, Johnny says bank a lot, and Lisa has a forgotten line about the computer business). Mark has to be a cop, right? That’s the only explanation. He had to throw Chris-R in the back of a squad car.
Or, the most likely explanation: It’s “The Room.” Tommy Wiseau didn’t think these things through. Neither should we.
Froemming: I just realized the the only character we really know anything about is: Denny. Johnny took him under his wing after his parents died and pays for his rent and tuition. Everything else is like a David Lynch mystery.
Also, did you enjoy the CGI skyline during the roof scenes? It looked like they were living in a hellish dystopian future.
Brown: Dude, I was so mesmerized by the bad acting in this scene that I didn’t really think about the CGI. Denny screeching “STOP GANGING UP ON ME” is masterful.
Froemming: “WHAT DRUGS, DENNY?!” Top notch acting here.
Brown: I legit wondered if anyone said “Cut” in this movie.
Froemming: Well, this is followed by another roof scene. Johnny has found out Lisa has been telling people he hit her. How? I seriously don’t think it was ever addressed. He just knows. This is the classic “I did not hit her, it’s not true! It’s bulls***! I did not hit her! Oh, Hai Mark!”
Mark and Johnny discuss women on the roof, and how they don’t understand them. Mark tells a chilling story about a promiscuous woman he knew that got severely beaten up.
Johnny’s response: Light-hearted laughter and saying “What a story, Mark!” Johnny may not hit women, but he apparently finds stories about that wildly entertaining. It. Makes. No. Sense.
Brown: This scene is the pinnacle of bad acting. This is not some guy pulled off the streets and thrust into this scene bad. This is more than a master’s class in bad acting. This kind of horrific acting has to be perfected over the years, like a monk in the mountains studying, meditating, really trying to discover what it truly means to act with such a lack of tone and context. You gain enlightenment with how terrible Wiseau delivers these lines.
The best part about this: According to “The Disaster Artist,” this scene took over 30 takes and took three hours to film. For seven seconds of THAT.
Froemming: He doesn’t seem to understand the words he is saying, AND HE WROTE THE SCRIPT! Mind. Blown!
Next, we have Johnny talking to Lisa (or this could be before. Time has no meaning in “The Room”) where he is still mad about the hitting her rumor she started. This, my friends, is where we get the tour de force of the acting ability of Tommy Wiseau:
He sells T-shirts with this classic line on his website. Also, if you buy this DVD, you get a head shot of Wiseau and on the other side of the photo, a chance to buy Tommy Wiseau underwear.
I love this (REDACTED) movie!
Brown: There’s a dialogue before this between Johnny and Denny where Denny admits that he thinks he’s in love with Lisa. Then Johnny goes into this monologue about how Lisa loves Denny as a person and if everyone loved everybody, the world would be a better place.
I imagine when Wiseau wrote this, he had visions of grandeur in his head. This monologue would be his “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore,” or his “You can’t handle the truth.” The line of speech that would cement his legacy as a Hollywood heavy-hitter.
It is… not that.
After this, and the argument with Lisa, we see Johnny and Mark run through San Francisco, talking (well, they should be but you can’t hear a damn thing over the movie’s soundtrack) and playing football. They really love playing football in this movie.
Froemming: Another thing I learned from this film: I don’t think Tommy Wiseau had ever seen a football before the making of this masterpiece. They throw footballs like kids play Hot Potato. It’s insane.
We also get a very awkward scene with Johnny and Mike (the chocolate sex romp guy). Why does this scene exist? It is just him telling Johnny about getting caught by Lisa and Claudette making sweet, sweet love to his girlfriend, Michelle. It is somehow more baffling than the scene they are talking about. Also, we never see Mike again.
Brown: But we do meet Peter shortly after this. He’s Johnny psychologist friend and he also appears to have made a strong recovery from when his face melted off in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
I lost it when Johnny asks Peter’s opinion about Lisa because he’s a shrink. Later, he freaks out on Peter because he “plays psychologist all the time.” Again, my brain hurts.
And really, you don’t need to be a psychologist to come up with Peter’s conclusion: Lisa is a sociopath. That’s why he makes the big bucks, folks.
Quick aside: No tailors live in San Francisco, I assume? Nobody wears clothes in this movie that fit them properly. Tommy Wiseau is SWIMMING in his clothes. A successful banker would probably own a suit that fits. At first glance of Johnny, I thought for a second that JNCO made dress pants.
Froemming: They were doing it way before Donald Trump made wearing ill-fitting suits cool.
Also, I work nights and watched this around 12:30 a.m. I’ll apologize here to my neighbors, because I’m pretty sure I woke them up from my laughing while watching this movie.
Now, Peter sees that Mark and Lisa share a moment when she arrives. He follows Mark to the roof, where we the viewers are subjected to the straight-to-video sequel to “Reefer Madness.” Mark gets all hopped up on Satan’s Cabbage, and nearly throws Peter OFF THE ROOF for confronting him about Lisa.
Peter, naturally, forgives Mark immediately after he tried to murder him.
Brown: So I said before that I didn’t pay attention to the skyline during the first roof scene. This one, I noticed how bad the green screen was. A pixelated sky like it was zoomed in too much on printer paper will do that for you.
And yes, all is forgiven the next day because Johnny, Peter, Denny and a newly-shaven Mark are all in tuxedos for reasons. Legit, we never find out why.
Well, there is one reason: Alleyway football! Look, I get that the tuxes they got at Savvi Formalwear have shoulder pads so large you look like a football player, but… just, no.
Are we sharing a coma, Froemming? I think we’re sharing a coma.
From one baffling scene to another, I’ll let you talk about the coffee shop, Froemming.
Froemming: Look, I don’t know how Tommy Wiseau grew up in (allegedly) New Orleans, but in Minnesota, we don’t just ask our friends how their sex lives are going.
Johnny does this in the most unnatural conversation I have seen put to celluloid.
I….I don’t even know, man. Also, the people at this coffee shop really push their cheesecake on the customers.
But hey, we are getting close to the big birthday party. Just prior though, Johnny overhears Lisa telling Michelle that she is cheating on him. His plan: Use his tape recorder (which, impressively, has unlimited tape) to tap his phones to catch her in the act. Which, I mean, he just heard her admit that she was betraying him!
Brown: Also, this is illegal, Johnny. California is a two-party consent state for recording phone calls.
So this was mystifying to me: When Michelle comes over (and walks in on shirtless Lisa and Mark), she is there to help Lisa set up for the party. Then the next day, Lisa has her cancer-riddled mother (ADDRESS THIS) over and is talking about the party like it’s days away. Like, I know Tommy Wiseau cut this movie up, but holy hell there is no cohesion to ANYTHING in this movie.
Look, Lisa, give Johnny mercy and dump him. Don’t throw him a birthday party if you don’t love him. She’s pretty much in the Inspire Hope stage of the DENNIS System.
Froemming: Well, we now come to the big party. Everyone is there: Denny, Johnny, Lisa, Mark, Michelle, Claudette,
Peter, Mike SOME RANDOM GUY NAMED STEVEN??!! Yeah, Steven just pops in and is a character in this film now, because why the (REDACTED) not at this point?
Well, because Lisa is a garbage human being, she suggests everyone go outside for some fresh air. But this is just a ploy so she can try to sleep with Mark again. At her future-husband’s birthday party. What the (REDACTED) is going on here?
Brown: Amidst this party that seems to have early 2000s cell phone midi music as the background noise, we see Johnny and Mark start arguing. They make peace shortly. Then after one of the several establishing shots, they start fighting again. And Johnny must have the square-inch strength of Ant-Man or Ivan Drago because he barely touches Mark and Mark acts like he was hit with a sledgehammer.
Then, more quality acting as Tommy is fed up with this world!
At this point, I wrote in my notes: This movie is more magical and bonkers than I could have ever imagined.
Froemming: Well, Johnny has everyone leave. His night is ruined. And he locks himself in the bathroom. And what does Lisa do with her obviously grief-stricken future-husband? She loudly makes plans to be with Mark, and just hammers home how much she doesn’t like Johnny.
How does he respond to her leaving him for his best friend? Why, he dry humps the red dress he bought her at the beginning of the film.
I was howling with laughter at this. I probably woke up the entire neighborhood.
Brown: JOHNNY SMASH! But is the most unconvincing anger ever. As Johnny screams at random intervals, he slowly plods around from object to object. The best one: When Johnny lifts the box TV (which is clearly a lightweight prop) and throws it through the window and crashes to the ground. Thank goodness I watched this movie in the daytime or else I would have woken up everyone within a mile radius.
With his future-wife cheating on him and his birthday party ruined, Johnny goes dark by putting Chris-R’s pistol in his mouth and pulls the trigger.
Boy, that escalated quickly.
Froemming: Yeah, it got dark there for maybe a second. Because this is Tommy Wiseau, the film doesn’t end with Johnny’s tragic death, it ends with Denny, Mark and Lisa running to Johnny’s body and bickering at each other. It is almost by a miraculous design that Wiseau somehow got everything wrong with this movie in a way that makes it great.
Also, Mark just dumps Lisa as they are hovering over Johnny’s dead body. What an ending!
Brown: This is probably the longest JOE-DOWN we’ve ever done and I still want to talk so much more about this movie. But, this is a good place to end it. So, let’s get to recommendations so we can go toss a football three feet away from each other.
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: Oh my God, yes. There is something beautiful about abstract failure and this movie is so bad it’s immensely entertaining. I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie maybe ever. This is the most unlikely masterpiece you will ever watch.
Froemming: Yes. It is simply amazing in how terrible it is. And yet, it is incredibly entertaining. I am probably going to frame that head shot I got of Wiseau from the DVD and placing it on my work desk.