Meh, I’ve seen worse.
Every year exposes the movie reviewing fellowship to a couple of delusional, talent-free putzes with the family money and the chutzpah to get a movie made and “distributed.” I saw one back in September, “Mike Boy,” that may be the best illustration ever of the maxim, “Not everybody who can get a movie made, should.”
But “worst” isn’t really the label those who have turned “The Room” into a cult film have embraced. “Best worst film ever made” is what they see in it. And that’s harder to debate. As awful as “Mike Boy” is, nobody will remember it. It takes a special madness and singular, delusional sense of self to conjure up a “Plan 9 from Outer Space” or “Tusk.”
Tommy Wiseau, whose proud, dedicated ineptitude is the subject of an awards season favorite, James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist,” is just such a crank.
A big dreamer with dyed Geddy Lee hair, a Gene Simmons yen for sucking in his cheeks and the accent (Polish?) of Borat’s hair-dresser, Wiseau raised millions (Hah!) for what amounts to a dreadful softcore porn melodrama.
He wrote, directed and stars in this story of sex and infidelity in San Francisco. And every single thing about it is stunningly, hilariously off.
The sets reveal their plywood-flimsy construction. The lighting screams “My last job was on a ’70s soap opera, and I got fired.” The film stock and color correction — endless establishing shots panning down the San Francisco Bay Bridge — doesn’t match from scene to scene.
The staging is off, with camera placement so clumsy every edit reveals the actors aren’t on the same visual plane. Continuity errors such as having a character serve herself and her fiance a glass filled with bourbon, and pouring what looks like vodka into it as if it’s empty, abound. “Never been to America” blunders (infamous “tossing the FOOTball” scenes) turn up.
The crew’s contempt for Wiseau shows in every shot.
And the writing. “Johnny” (Wiseau) is engaged to “Lisa” (Juliette Danielle). They’ve been together “five years.” Or is it “seven years?” She’s cheating with “Mark” (Greg Sestero), “but he’s my BEST FRIEND.” Mark must say that line 30 times. Lisa? Maybe half a dozen more. Johnny? At least three or four times himself.
“I’m going to do what I want to do, and that’s it. (Pause) What do YOU think I should do?”
Characters make more entrances into the soundstage-built apartment Lisa and Johnny share than you’d see in a season’s worth of “Friends.” Lisa, Johnny, Mark, Johnny’s inappropriate young ward (Philip Haldiman), Lisa’s friends, all perplexing Lisa’s mother (Carolyn Minott), who finally speaks up on behalf of the audience.
“How many people come into this apartment every day?”
Characters don tuxedos to play a game of catch, confessional scenes are staged on a plainly-fake rooftop with process shot images of San Francisco in the background, and everybody arrives at the same piece of fake alley, and crowding into the frame only heightens the surreal/unreal coincidence of it all.
And half the time, Wiseau’s lines sound and look dubbed.
“You are TEARING me APART, Lisa!”
That’s the trick to making a cult film. It can’t just be bad, it has to be memorably so, and “The Room” is. Fans shout at the screen, wait for the aged pug dog’s first appearance and throw spoons.
So there’s no point further panning this cult calamity (again) now, 14-15 years after “the best worst film ever” was made. You already know what Wiseau and his adherents say to that. It’s in the script.
“Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!”
(Roger Moore’s review of “The Disaster Artist” is here.)
MPAA Rating: R for sexuality, language and brief violence
Cast: Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero, Philip Haldiman, Robyn Harris
Credits:Written and directed by Tommy Wiseau. A Wiseau Films release.
Running time: 1:39