The Couch Surfer: 'It may be sublimely rubbish, but The Room makes audiences happy'

Tim Walker: It's so bad that six years after it was made, The Room still draws sell-out crowds

Share
Related Topics

What's the worst film ever made? I only ask because this Friday the Prince Charles cinema in London will host the UK premiere of The Room, a picture widely believed by its "fans" to be the most laughably dreadful thing ever committed to celluloid.

It's so bad that six years after it was made, The Room still draws sell-out crowds to late-night showings across the US, where they yell the best/worst lines back at the screen, as if they're at Singalonga Sound Of Music.

The aspiring auteur responsible for The Room is its 40-year-old writer-director and leading man Tommy Wiseau, whose $6m budget appears to have been spent not on the movie itself, but on self-distribution and a Sunset Boulevard billboard ad. With his Spinal Tap hair, unidentified East European accent, and eerie, dead-eyed chuckle, Wiseau turns in a monstrously unconvincing performance as Johnny, supposedly the greatest guy in San Francisco. Johnny's life is turned upside down when he fails to get a promotion, then discovers that his fiancée Lisa has been bonking his best friend.

The Room's crappiness is so compelling that, rather than market it as the Greek tragedy it was so obviously meant to be be, Wiseau nowadays insists it was conceived as black comedy. The script sounds like it came straight from the Sunset Beach slush pile. Subplots about drugs and cancer disappear unresolved without warning. The audio synching is rough as sandpaper. The continuity is non-existent. And of the three utterly unnecessary softcore sex scenes set to ear-melting R&B within the first half-hour, two feature Wiseau's bare backside bobbing up and down like Duncan Goodhew and Yul Brynner racing each other at breaststroke.

Some of the most sublimely rubbish moments are YouTube hits, including Wiseau's anguished, James Dean-esque cry, famed among his cult followers: "You're tearing me apart, Lisa!"

Choosing the Best Film Ever is a straightforward task; the criterion for such a competition – spurious as it may be – is a simple combination of quality and popularity. Thus every such poll is topped by one of a handful of titles: Star Wars for the masses; The Godfather (parts I and II) for casual film buffs; À Bout de Souffle for readers of Sight & Sound magazine.

But the absolute Worst Film? The Room is incoherently scripted, appallingly acted and unintelligibly edited, yet it makes audiences happy. Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space, generally considered the Citizen Kane of bad movies, karmically inspired at least one great film, Tim Burton's Ed Wood.

One has to place these things in context. Batman & Robin, for instance, is far more malevolent in its awfulness than anything by Wiseau or Wood. Not only did Joel Schumacher's last contribution to the Batman franchise betray every serious fan of the masked crimefighter, but it cost the sort of cash ($140m) that could instead have built hospitals, or fed a substantial portion of the population of Niger.

The same goes for the movies of Michael Bay, whose name is critical shorthand for the crass Hollywood blockbuster. I haven't had the pleasure of seeing Transformers 2 (one was enough for me, if not for the Dreamworks accounts department), but Pearl Harbor was just as viscerally terrible when I saw 20 minutes of it on telly recently as it was when I sat through all three hours in the cinema.

And then there was Bad Boys II, another of Bay's moronic masterworks, and perhaps the most offensive blockbuster I've ever wanted to superglue my eyes shut in order to avoid seeing more of. BBII's explosive finale requires Will Smith and Martin Lawrence to drive a big yellow Humvee – symbol of arrogant US imperialism – through a Cuban shanty town. And I mean through it: crushing homes as they go, loosely justified by the assertion that they are "drug dealers' shacks".

Smith, in the driver's seat, yells to his passengers: "Everybody start shooting at somebody!" The villain is finally blown in half by an American landmine at the gates of Guantanamo Bay; I'm not kidding. Incidentally, BBII was made in 2003, the same year as the Iraq invasion. This is not just a big dumb fun $130m movie. It's tasteless, irresponsible twaddle and a sure contender for the Worst Film crown.

Okay, so Wiseau's modest budget would probably be enough for a few dialysis machines. But do you see BBII selling out cinema screenings six years after its release? And if The Room makes people laugh, can it really be all bad?

Tickets for the UK premiere of 'The Room' are available from the Prince Charles Cinema (www.princecharlescinema.com)

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Seven per cent of young men have recently stopped using deodorant  

‘Sweaty-gate’ leaves a bad smell for PRs and journalists

Danny Rogers
Alison Parker and Adam Ward: best remembered before tragedy  

The only way is ethics: Graphic portraits of TV killings would upset many, not just our readers in the US

Will Gore
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory