R084 The Room

(2003, Drama-ish/(definitely not supposed to be a) Comedy-Esque, color)


Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!

Rating: ***1/2

In a Nutshell:

Tommy Wiseau is right, while his ex-girlfriend and/or ex-fiancée is wrong.


Ten pounds of face in a twenty-pound sack.Once upon a time, a lank-haired, saggy-faced man of indeterminate origin (probably European of some kind) named Tommy Wiseau decided to make a movie. Though nothing is known for sure, it seems almost certain that at some point in his past a woman hurt his feelings, and hurt them badly. So, naturally, Tommy decided to make the movie about how he is good and wise, while his fiancée is an evil, conniving adulteress. He wrote, directed, produced, starred in and (most importantly) financed the movie himself, then rented a billboard in L.A. to promote it for five continuous years. This cost him six million dollars. No one knows where he came from, or why he even had that kind of money.

The film itself defies description. I’ve covered the movie’s central conceit in the paragraph above. Tommy’s character is named Johnny, while the evil, conniving adulteress fiancée is Lisa. Johnny wanders the set saying “hi” to everything like a Eurotrash parrot with sunstroke, while the villainous Lisa sleeps with his spineless best friend Mark. Lisa’s mom is a shrill old bat with intermittent cancer, while their neighbor, a young teen named Denny or Danny or something, has an intermittent drug problem. And by “intermittent”, I mean that these subplots are brought up once each, and then never mentioned again.

Yuah tayahwin me apaht, Lisa!What else? Um, there’s a psychologist named Peter whose actor got fed up with the slapdash production halfway through, causing his character to morph into a wholly different person named Stephen near the end of the film. There’s also a girl named Michelle who eats chocolate off of some guy’s weenis (offscreen, thankfully). At one point, men in tuxedoes play football in an alley space smaller than my bedroom. At the end, crowds of unknown people shuffle in and out of Johnny’s apartment on demand until the adultery comes out, causing Johnny to impersonate a Eurotrash chicken. Everyone leaves, and then the adultery comes out... again... or more, or something. Lisa leaves him. Johnny shoots himself. And everyone is very, very sorry that they would ever hurt the feelings of such a noble and majestic man. Especially Lisa.


Looking back at the newly competed summary, I realize I have failed to describe a major portion of the film’s running time. Let me take care of that now. There is sex in this film. It’s not terribly graphic sex, I’ll admit, one of the two things that save this film from being straight-up porn. But now I have to correct a previous statement: there is a lot of sex in this film. In fact, if ten minutes pass at any point in the narrative during which we are not subjected to onscreen coitus of some sort, I’ll eat my hat.

Which brings me to the other thing that saves this film from being straight-up porn. It’s not appealing sex. It is, in fact, the unsexiest sex I’ve ever seen captured on film. Yes, it’s worse than Joe Don Baker and Linda Evans in Mitchell. I will now pause for your obligatory horrified shudder...

[Insert horrified shudder here.]

Denny (or Danny) is saved from drugs forever....so please, for the love of all that is decent and holy, avert your eyes whenever the lovin’ starts. I am not kidding. The Rifftrax product page for this commentary strongly advises viewers to “look away” during these parts. “We are not just being coy,” they say. Disembaudio’s friend Walter (more on him in a moment) describes Wiseau’s naked body as “Weird Al as Rambo in UHF”. This is a frighteningly accurate description. Bill describes the actress playing Lisa as “the bloated corpse of Britney Spears.” This goes a little too far, but not by much. Don’t worry about missing anything. The riffers aren’t watching either, choosing, instead, to engage in unrelated shenanigans until the onscreen horrors have ceased.

Commentary during the non-sex scenes works pretty well. When Lisa orders a pizza laden with pineapple, artichokes, pesto and Canadian bacon, Mike calls it, “Domino’s WTF special.” While Johnny aimlessly wanders San Francisco, Bill supplements his normal dialog with, “Oh, hi sidewalk. Oh, hi newspaper. Oh, hi entrance.” As unintroduced characters pile up, Kevin references Mr. Wiseau’s rather unsubtle attempt to retroactively rebrand his film by advising them to “act like you knew this was supposed to be a comedy all along.” Surprisingly, for a film whose attempts at naughtiness will make you want to claw your own eyes out, the skits they designed to distract us from all the un-sex are the funniest parts of the commentary. For the first three or four occurrences, Disembaudio shows up with his rowdy, computer-generated friends and family members, gradually losing them all as they succumb to the horror of Wiseau’s vision. Other distraction schemes include a lengthy prayer to spiral cut ham, and a harrowing descent into Hee-Haw madness. If you can steel your soul to the incoherent awfulness, shutting your eyes and keeping them shut as necessary, this thing is hilarious. On the other hand, the movie is unrelentingly, irredeemably bad, with parts of it bad enough to render the viewer sterile. I’ve done my best to let you know what we’re dealing with here. Now you have to decide for yourself.