I’ve known of the existence of The Room for a while, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the year that I finally got around to watching it. The film can best be described as an experience, and not necessarily a good one at that. I’m not really into audience participation in the cinema, but in this instance it really a defence mechanism.
Oh, for clarity, I’m not talking about the Brie Larson film from a couple of years ago. That’s simply named Room. I’m talking about the 2003 film, written, directed, starring, and produced by Tommy Wiseau. Never heard of it. Your life was so much better before reading this.
After surviving it, you can see how The Room is in the conversation for the worst film ever made. There isn’t one thing that stands out from being really bad, but it is the perfect storm of just plain wrong. You know the expression that a film is so bad that it is good? Well The Room is so bad that it has blown straight through good, back through bad again and somehow hit sartorial.
Of course, this means that over the years, the film has gained a cult following. It’s a stable of the midnight cinema circuit. In London, The Prince Charles Cinema has monthly screenings, and occasionally there is even an appearance from the great Tommy Wiseau himself.
This following includes quite a few of the Hollywood set, with James Franco creating a film called The Disaster Artist. It looks at the creation of The Room from the perspective of Greg Sestro, who played Mark in the film and is Tommy Wiseau’s best friend.
The key to the film is James Franco’s portrayal of Tommy Wiseau. In short, he’s really good. Mr Wiseau, in real life, is a somewhat eccentric character who has managed to kept his personal history private. James Franco does quite well with the mannerisms and look, even if the accent is slightly off. Mind you, Tommy Wiseau’s accent is rather unique.
The Disaster Artist can be split into two parts. The first is Tommy and Greg becoming friends and failing to get their career off the ground. I got the impression that San Francisco Tommy was happier in himself than the Los Angeles version.
The second part of the film deals with the making of The Room. It’s funnier than the first, as you quickly realise that Mr Wiseau is completely out of his depth. It feels like a mockumentary, rather than something that really happened. There is one scene however, where things get really awkward, and you feel really sorry for the actress who played Lisa.
It would be very easy for The Disaster Artist to become a caricature of it’s subject. The film does an excellent job of being respectful of the original material though. There is, I think, a little bit of poetic license during the premiere scene at the end of the film. It’s more of a reflection on how audiences have reacted to The Room over time, rather than on the night.
All in all, The Disaster Artist comes across as a feel good sort of film. I enjoyed it anyway.
If you are one of the happy billions that has never seen The Room would you get The Disaster Artist? I think that it is quite easy to see the film as a Judd Apatow (he even appears in this) film about how not to make a movie. You remember the words “Based On” from the opening credits, and would comfort yourself in thinking that they have taken things to their comedic extremes.
The true kicker comes at the end however, when you see the recreated scenes playing alongside the original versions, and they have been played straight. You’ll then know that the film really exists, and you’ll be tempted to subsequently watch The Room.
And if you do, make sure to bring plenty of plastic spoons.