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This Film Will Tear You Apart

Patrick McManus | Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center will show “The Room,” as part of the Midnight Movies series on Saturday.

As a film, “The Room” fails on almost every level. The plot is largely unintelligible, the acting is atrocious, the dialogue is repetitive and filled with non-sequiturs and several shots are out of focus. These flaws can no doubt be traced to the film’s writer, director, producer and star, Tommy Wiseau.

“The Room” does succeed in one respect: It is a movie that entertains and resonates with audiences. Wiseau deserves credit for that, even though it must be entirely accidental.

Wiseau first marked the film as a drama about the relationship between his character Johnny and Johnny’s girlfriend Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Its initial run in a few Los Angeles theatres attracted little attention until someone realized the astounding ineptitude with which the drama was assembled made it one of the most unintentionally funny movies of all time. Wiseau has since claimed to be in on the joke, It’s hard to tell, though, as his interview responses can often be as confounding as the film’s dialogue.

“The Room” was first released in 2003. Since then, midnight showings of the movie across the country have become popular events. Attendees often dress as their favorite characters, yell out their favorite lines and throw plastic spoons at the screen (in homage to an inexplicably recurrent framed spoon in the movie).

Several celebrities are among those who love to laugh at “The Room.” For instance Kristin Bell and Rob Thomas reportedly snuck numerous references to “The Room” in the series “Veronica Mars.” Paul Rudd and David Wain tried to do the same with “Role Models,” but all the references were cut. On the set of “Arrested Development,” all it took was the trailer to entertain David Cross and Will Arnett.

“The Room” is certainly a fun movie. In one scene, Lisa’s mother tells her that she has breast cancer, to which Lisa responds, “Don’t worry about it” (a line that is repeated a seemingly infinite number of times throughout the film). The cancer is never mentioned again. Please keep in mind that the context does nothing to explain anything about the interaction. That sort of thing happens a lot.

In another scene, a drug dealer accosts the creepy neighbor Denny, who serves no obvious narrative purpose, on a roof. The incident is neither prompted by nor explained by the rest of the film. The best part is that it was filmed in front of a green screen, rather than on an actual roof, as if no regular roof was available in Los Angeles.

“The Room” earned the designation ‘The ‘Citizen Kane’ of bad movies.” Perhaps a worse film could be made if that was the intention of the filmmaker, but even then, no movie could mimic this film’s futile earnestness.