The true story of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, the team behind the infamously bad movie The Room.
I pride myself in having good taste in movies. I’ve spent hours trying to convince people to check out the films of Bergman and Fellini; I’ve studied Kurosawa and Tarkovsky; I’ve thrown parties to show films by Edward Yang and David Lynch; and, of course, I cohost a movie podcast every week. I love great movies, but simultaneously, there’s something entirely surreal about watching a bad movie with a group of cinephile friends, and sadly, it’s an experience that I don’t think a lot of people get to have.
“The Room” is the bad movie that has risen above the other thousands to garner a reputation for itself as ‘The “Citizen Kane” of Bad Movies.” Is it the worst movie ever made? Heavens no. There are far worse. But “The Room” is a bad movie that has started many cinephiles on their bad movie journey. Watching bad movies can be just as- I don’t know if rewarding is a good word for the experience- but they can be just as entertaining as good movies.
This movie tells the story of a making of “The Room”, a movie so bizarre and horribly conceived, that the only thing crazier was the story of making it. I was actually so excited to see this movie that I went opening weekend, and I enjoyed it enough to pick it up when it went on sale at the local Family Video. Just recently a buddy loaned me Greg Sestero’s book of the same name, and after devouring that in a few days, I knew I had to go back and revisit this strange film.
“We make real Hollywood movie. No Mickey Mouse stuff.”
Aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco, “If Beale Street Could Talk”) meets an unusual and mysterious man named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco, “Your Highness”) in his acting class, and the two form a strange bond. After a time, Tommy and Greg move to LA to pursue their dreams of fame, only to find Hollywood isn’t at all how they expected it. Determined to make it work, Tommy decides to write, direct, star in, and finance his a movie himself. Things go predictably bad.
There are a ton of great moments in this movie and a lot of those great moments come from James Franco’s absolutely hysterical portrayal of Tommy Wiseau. The first reveal of Tommy is perhaps one of the funnier character introductions I’ve seen in a long time. As I rewatched James Franco yowling “STELLA!” at the top of his lungs in a painfully pathetic impersonation of Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire”, juxtaposed by Dave Franco’s expression of utter amazement, I found I was beside completely myself with laughter.
There are a lot of scenes in this movie that I think will be funnier with prior knowledge; if you know “The Room”, you’ll undoubtedly get more of the references. In a way I feel like this sort of narrows the target audience, but I don’t think that someone who hasn’t seen the film in question couldn’t enjoy this, a lot of jokes just probably wont make much sense. My favorite scenes were easily when the actual filming takes place. As I had just read the book, my mind was filled with all of these crazy stories that happened on that set. I do have to say that there is a TON of craziness that didn’t make it into the movie, but the film does a great job of portraying a sense of just how ridiculous the set got. If you’re a huge fan of “The Room” I really recommend the book; it’s absolutely hysterical.
(SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH) At the end of the film, Tommy and Greg attend the premiere for “The Room” and everyone laughs. Tommy gets upset and flees the theater, and Greg goes out to calm him down, telling him that, while he might not have made the movie he wanted to make, he did make a movie that a lot of people love. The ending is hokey and rushed, but at the same time, I understand why the movie ends this way. All of the actors and people in this film really care about “The Room”, and “The Room”’s story did not end at the premiere; it took a long time for “The Room” to garner the cult status it had today. At the time of the premiere, I’m sure Tommy’s name was not chanted, nor I’m sure, did anyone applaud when the film was over. When this movie came out it was a disastrous failure, but years later, the reaction Tommy gets at the end of this film is probably apropos to what he gets now. They condensed the timeline to show how important the film would be, but it only half worked.
This is a pretty decent film with some absolutely hysterical moments with a surprisingly realistic look at the world of indie filmmaking. I struggled with whether to give this film a 4/5 or a 3.5/5 and ended up settling on a 3.5/5. For me personally, it’s probably closer to a 4/5 star movie, but only because of my love of “The Room”. I do think the third act suffers a bit from what seems like “Romantic Comedy Syndrome” ie. a predictable friendship separation/ reunion storyline that kind of makes the whole thing a bit too hokey for me.
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