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From Under A Rock: The Room

June 4, 2016 | Posted by Michael Ornelas
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From Under A Rock: The Room  


Oh hi reader! This movie is the notorious pinnacle of “so bad it’s good” cinema and I (Michael) for one love watching it. It’s awful, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a car crash from which I can’t look away. I felt it was only fair to rope Aaron into this mess and see if he comes out the other side a changed man, or if the movie tears him apart, Lisa.

You only get one first time, and for some people, it comes later than it does for others. This particular column is about documenting the first viewing of a “classic” movie or TV show determined at the discretion of Aaron Hubbard and Michael Ornelas in alternation.

Last week Aaron showed Michael the secret behind the ooze when he picked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. This week Michael takes Aaron out from under the proverbial rock by with The Room, but Aaron desperately tried to crawl back underneath said rock..

The Room
Released: June 27th, 2003
Directed by: Tommy Wiseau
Written by: Tommy Wiseau
Tommy Wiseau as Johnny
Greg Sestero as Mark
Juliette Danielle as Lisa
Philip Haldiman as Denny
Carolyn Minnott as Claudette

Michael Ornelas: This pick is probably the definition of “Sorry not sorry.” I love it so much. So so much. The first time I saw this, I let out so many shouts of disbelief and 5 years later I still yell every time I see it. It’s ridiculous, but it’s so much fun to see the pitfalls that a terrible first-time filmmaker fell into.

Aaron Hubbard: My poor brain… What are movies? What is life? This movie nearly broke me, but I feel like I had to see to believe just how truly awful it is.
Praise Be to Chris-R
Michael: I’m not actually devoting a section to Chris-R, but I do want to talk about the acting. People say that good writing can make a bad actor passable. I disagree. You could put the cast from this movie (minus Chris-R) in The Shawshank Redemption and that movie is instantly ruined. That said, the entertainment value in the wooden acting is where this movie gets a lot of its appeal. Almost everything out of Wiseau’s mouth is the most glorious abomination ever.

Meanwhile Chris-R actually proves to be a halfway-decent actor in his one scene on the roof. I actually buy into his character and think the only reason he’s not “great” is the directing.

Aaron: Tommy was ironically captivating in one of the worst performances I have ever seen. But every time it went away from him to Lisa, Mark or any of the other characters I had trouble paying attention. Some of that is script issues, obviously, but I wish the other actors had at least been more animated. The cast is terrible, but if they were trying to be as bad as they were I think it might have turned out even more entertaining. Then again, maybe Tommy’s performance would be less of a stand-out.

Michael: Denny is pretty badly captivating as well, but yes, Tommy takes the cake. He is full of so much fake emotion that you wonder if there’s any actual emotion in that man’s body at all. This movie is memorable for all the wrong reasons, but bad acting is the main one.
I Don’t Want To Talk About It
Aaron: So I don’t write screenplays, but I do write, and I like to think I’m at least competent. One of the first things I realized about being a good writer is that you have to be able to know when you have written something terrible. Tommy Wiseau clearly does not have this ability. I honestly can’t even think of a script this bad; the dialogue is truly atrocious, and what could generously be called the plot of the movie is simplistic and complicated at the same time. So many scenes are utterly pointless to the story. It’s truly baffling that somebody could write something this bad and say “Yep, that’s good enough to be a movie.”

Michael: So I’ve heard rumors that this movie was actually a drug money laundering scheme. He had to funnel it into something to get access to it “legally” so he wrote a movie. I don’t know if there’s truth to that, but pretty much anything that gives this movie an excuse makes sense to me. It’s also interesting that Wiseau himself calls this movie a “black comedy” when he so clearly wanted it to be a “gripping drama.” It’s like he had this passion project that everyone rejected for what it was, and he was beaten into submission into saying it’s something else. It’s actually kind of sad when you think about it, but that doesn’t give an awful movie an excuse for happening.

Aaron: I’m never one for telling people that they shouldn’t follow their passions and do things people say they can’t. But I just don’t see any effort showing here, and a lack of effort is a far greater sin than a lack of brilliance. If this somehow is Tommy Wiseau’s best effort, then sadly I must say he needs to find a different creative outlet.
Tearing Apart
Cult Status
Michael: Does this movie deserve the following that it has? Is there validity to becoming a successful film simply for being terrible? I think this subculture of “so bad they’re good” movies is actually a lot of fun. I’ve checked out several myself and it’s a blast. Troll 2, Miami Connection, Creatures from the Abyss (also known as Plankton), and then movies like Black Dynamite that are intentionally so bad they’re good in such a way that they are brilliant (seriously, if you haven’t watched the last one, you’re missing out)…they’re always fun. Even Lifetime Original movies these days are a blast and a half.

Aaron: I don’t necessarily believe in “so bad that it’s good”, but I do ascribe to the belief that watching bad movies is an important part of any film student or critic’s life. Things that make a film good are often invisible; they help us absorb the illusion. Sometimes you need to see something done poorly to understand the value of things we take for granted.

Michael: Of course I agree with the idea of “learning from someone else’s mistakes” as a filmmaker, but do you not find entertainment value in truly atrocious movies? I have developed a genuine love and appreciation for them to the point that they’re almost a genre to me.

Aaron: To a certain extent. Generally speaking, no, I don’t receive much joy in watching really bad filmmaking. I respect that others can, it’s just not something I personally enjoy. Making fun of them is fun, of course, but bad movies usually just make me sad. This one just made me numb inside.

Aaron: Tommy Wiseau’s legendary bad film deserves its reputation. The acting, script, and production are all awful to a degree that needs to be seen to be believed. Any entertainment to be had here is purely of the ironic variety.


Michael: I can’t give this an F. It may be the worst film I’ve ever seen from a technical standpoint. In every standpoint, actually…but it’s so freaking entertaining! Being boring is the biggest sin a movie can commit, and The Room manages to avoid being dull. For that…I give it…


Aaron: A respectable opinion. Now I want to know what movies actually get an F from you.

Michael: Ones that are bad AND bore me. Or ones that disappoint me when I had high expectations. Last year’s second Attack on Titan movie got an F from me. I hated Youth too but it was cinematically fantastic, so that stayed above the failing grade.

Leave your STUPID comments in your pocket!

Next week:

Aaron: Well, now that I’ve recovered from that, it’s time to remember what good movies are. And here we have one of the best mystery/crime dramas ever, and one of Jack Nicholson’s best roles.
Michael: This is one of those Robert Evans success stories, so I’m looking forward to checking this one out. I know very little about it, but I suspect it’s better than The Room.

Aaron: What isn’t?

What is your favorite Jack Nicholson movie?

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Check out our past reviews!
Mission: Impossible, They Live, Marvel’s Daredevil, The Silence of the Lambs, 12 Angry Men, The Usual Suspects, The Boondock Saints, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Iron Giant, Fargo, American Psycho, 28 Days Later, Frankenstein, Crank, The Godfather: Part II, American Beauty, Rocky, Alien, Spaceballs, Star Wars: Clone Wars, The Muppets Christmas Carol, Reservoir Dogs, Superman: The Movie, Lethal Weapon, Double Indemnity, Groundhog Day, The Departed, Breaking Bad, Shane, Glengarry Glen Ross, Blue Ruin, Office Space, The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest, Drive, Memoirs of a Geisha, Let the Right One In, Apocalypse Now, Aliens, The Incredible Hulk, A Clockwork Orange, Chicago, Seven, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, The Room

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The final score: review Bad
The 411
The Room is quite the moviegoing experience. It is full of flaws and has very little going right for it. But it is entertaining for a large chunk of it, and that makes the 99 minutes of running time not feel so bad. If you haven’t seen this before, it’s worth checking out just to see what makes it so notorious. Tommy Wiseau is the opposite of a master in literally every aspect of filmmaking, but he’s magnetic. This movie succeeded in spite of itself and you should take a look just to witness that.