With the local theater closed for bi-annual scuba tank maintenance, I felt the time was apt for a retro review of my personal favorite film, “The Room.” However, how does one review something as colossal, multifaceted and groundbreaking as Tommy Wiseau’s seminal work? With over 16 novelizations, two established religions, weekly White House showings, an ongoing Broadway play and a top-selling soft drink, “The Room” seems to be more of a movement than film. However, after my recent viewing I am forced to ask myself: Is “The Room” simply the best film ever made or the best thing ever made?
Written, directed, produced by and starring world-renowned sex symbol Tommy Wiseau, the film concerns main character Johnny (Wiseau) dealing with the trials and tribulations of life as a banker in San Francisco. He is dating Lisa (Juliette Danielle), who is aptly described by every character in the film as “hot,” and is best friends with Mark, played by James Dean reincarnation Greg Sestero. While superficially a film merely about one man’s downfall as his fiancee cheats on him with his best friend, Johnny is actually the Christ figure reborn. He consults friends and foes alike, is universally loved by everyone he comes in contact with, and is eventually betrayed by those he trusts most, ending his life in self-sacrifice. While not shown in the initial theatrical release, there is a post-credits scene wherein Johnny rises from the dead to rule as King of the Cosmos, which is included in the Director’s Cut (along with 19 hours of additional footage). In addition, Jesus and Johnny both have long hair and their names both begin with the letter “J.” Symbolism like that extends beyond mere coincidence.
What makes the film truly remarkable is its seamless blending of every genre of entertainment ever created. It features hilarious one-liners any comedy would be envious of, such as the sidesplitting “Oh hai Mark!” scene after Johnny is accused of beating Lisa and the snarkily satirical, “It’s bullshit, I did naaaaaat!” remark Johnny gives in his defense after he is accused of domestic violence. It also has much more dark, dramatic moments, such as when Johnny says, “Oh hi, doggy,” when purchasing flowers and when Lisa reveals that her pregnancy was simply a ruse at the birthday party that serves as the climax of the film. I and everyone else who have emotions cry every time we see these scenes, and the American Psychological Association has recently approved exposure therapy to “The Room” to treat Borderline Personality Disorder and Psychopathy.
It is not just comedy and drama on display in “The Room.” The pulse-pounding football scenes are better than any sports movie, the thrilling “drug-dealer fight scene” was used as the inspiration for the “Die Hard” franchise and the sex scenes between Johnny and Lisa are a combination of romantic comedy and illustrated documentary of the “Kama Sutra.” Even the setting can be considered to exist in the realm of fantasy, as San Francisco is depicted as above water in the film, when we all know that San Francisco was sunk to the bottom of the ocean after the 1997 earthquake.
My only criticism of the film is that 99 minutes simply is not enough time with the characters we have come to know and love throughout the film. While the director’s cut and special edition do offer an additional 19 hours of features, a running time on the magnitude of several decades would be more appropriate and would have answered more questions about the film. How many people come to mourn Johnny at his funeral? Who is the identity of Johnny’s mysterious new client at the bank? Why do they play football in tuxedos? While Wiseau has promised to answer these questions and many others in the upcoming sequel, he has been far too busy finding the cure for HIV and brokering a peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to work on filmmaking.
For those who have not seen the film, I urge you to attend one of the monthly showings at the Ark to fully immerse yourself in the majesty that is “The Room.” For those of you who have seen the movie and have been touched by its glory, our school offers a minor in Room Studies and hopes to implement a major by 2017. For those who are still unwilling to view the film by choice, be warned: The United States Supreme Court recently made failure to view “The Room” by age 30 a class-two felony under the “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” act of 2014.
Rating: 10 stars