Ethan Parker’s review published on Letterboxd:
1/10 (on the standards of "regular" movies)
10/10 (on the "so bad it's good" scale)
So, just a note before the rest of the review, this is a blend of a rather messily put together op-ed and an actual review.
Ah, The Room; a horribly cobbled together mess that attempted to be a romance based drama about a man trying to climb the ladder in his own life, while his fiance has a continued affair with his best friend. A film created with the best of intentions, had a ton of sweat, blood, and tears poured into it, only to become a gigantic laughing stock of pop culture.
Obviously, time has been surprisingly well to Tommy Wiseau's "disasterpiece", having it gain a cult-like status among fans of "trash cinema" and average moviegoers alike. Originally, it appeared that the movie was just a gigantic flop considering it only made about twelve-thousand-dollars on it's opening weekend when it had the budget of an estimated six-million, but it became a surprise, sleeper success by being played for entire nightly blocks of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. After being played over and over again, this once extreme failure of a film grew into a cult masterpiece. The Room has been a money making giant with frequent screenings at mom n' pop movie theaters and from all of the DVDs and Blu Rays it's managed to sell, not to mention it's insane merchandising. From it's strange origins, The Room is held up as a classic as much as actually good movies like Alien, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, The Big Lebowski, and more.
Okay, so why did I spend two paragraphs explaining this? Well, as time passed, this wonder of a film that was trying to take itself seriously was turned around by Wiseau to be an "intentional dark comedy". Viewing The Room as a comedy is for sure fun, but it's even more interesting to watch this as what it was actually trying to be upon it's release: a serious drama about love, cheating, and secrecy in friendships. Wiseau pretty obviously viewed the movie like this when he was making it and when it released, but hilarious enough, he changed his own perception of the film to him saying that the horrendous, but still hilarious aspects of the film were SO totally one-hundred-percent intentional.
So as a drama, does The Room succeed? Absolutely not; when judging The Room on the aspects of a super serious drama, The Room falls flat on it's face in the mud. The acting is stiff and wooden, the writing feels as if it was written by an alien who thinks it understands basic verbal communication and the English language, the sets are extremely cheap and poorly put together, the soundtrack is both over, and under dramatic in the most hilarious ways possible, the costume designs appear to be the perfect mishmash of the absolute worst that both eighties' and nineties' fashion had to offer, and the sex scenes don't even appear to have any real sex going on (no Tommy, you do not stick your penis in bellybuttons).
The story of The Room goes through rather predictable major plot points, but it's filled with an absurd amount of useless scenes, and characters that provide absolutely nothing to the story. We are treated to such fantastic scenes as: people throwing footballs around around five times through the whole movie for seemingly no reason, two completely random characters breaking and entering into somebody else's apartment just to have sex, a drug dealer threatening to kill an eighteen year old kid over drug money, continuous, redundant scenes of Lisa (Juliette Danielle)'s mother: Claudette (Carolyn Minnott) telling Lisa to stay with Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) There is so much unnecessary content, that if it was stripped away, the movie would really only be twenty-minutes long.
As stated before, the writing feels as if it was written by a literal alien who think it knows how humans converse. There are the truly outstanding moments of the movie with such beautiful, Oscar-worthy lines such as: "YOU ARE TEARING ME APART, LISA!", "Anyway, how is your sex life?", "I did not hit her, it's not true! It's bullshit! I did not hit her! I did *naht*. Oh hi, Mark.", "Oh man, I just can't figure women out. Sometimes they're just too smart. Sometimes they're just flat-out stupid. Other times they're just evil.", "You betrayed me! You're not good. You, you're just a chicken. Chip-chip-chip-chip-cheep-cheep.", "You don't understand anything, man. Leave your *stupid* comments in your pocket!", etc. While those are just a few lines, the entire movie is filled to the brim with entire scenes filled with this absolutely atrocious writing.
The "behind the camera" aspects of the movie are noticeably horrendous, too. To start, if you have functioning eyes, it's pretty obvious that there are strange moments where the camera appears to be out of focus, and that the actual visual quality of the scenes constantly switch back and forth. Tommy, our beloved director, producer, executive producer, writer, and leading actor, thought it would be a great idea to shoot the film with both a high-definition camera, and with 35mm film, and our camera operator(s) couldn't be bothered to check and see if the scenes were actually in focus when filming, either. There are moments in which the camera is moving in either a pan or an arc, and it hits some sort of bump, yet these scenes are still kept in the final product. When it comes to the hellscape that is the production, that's only the tip of the iceberg! I won't bother going through any more of it, but you can spend about half an hour reading through all of the horrible production issues and just how insane it was trying to film this movie by just reading the IMDB trivia page on the movie.
"So if you just spent the last several paragraphs constantly going in on how absolutely terrible this movie is, why has anyone bothered with it even after all these years?" I feel a lot of that has to be from Adult Swim. Airing this movie for around three years straight helped cement it into a ton of "night owl" stoner's minds (possibly the best demographic for this film if we're being honest), and it's popularity only grew from there. Thanks to the channel that everyone watches while high off their ass, we gained a truly phenomenal piece of not just film culture, but pop culture as a whole. Nowadays, it's nearly impossible to escape the influence this movie left on society; we're even at a point where we had an entire book written about it's insane production, and now a movie that's being made about the book, too!
The Room is absolutely terrible on every single way imaginable. Every single aspect fails on the very basic, fundamental levels that almost every other film in existence can at least seem to understand, but even though it's absolutely horrible, it's filled with so much charm. The Room is a passion project created by the weirdest human alive, and is the perfect example of an accidental success, or an instance of "being famous for the way you wish you weren't". There are people who absolutely love this movie, and there are those who absolutely despise it. While I'm in the camp that loves The Room, I can more than understand why anyone would hate it. The undeniable fame of this movie will live on for years to come, and will continue to influence the film industry for the foreseeable future.
I will note, though, that upon rewatching this movie (I actually spent the money to acquire this on Blu Ray), it was beyond weird watching this with both of my parents, and my little sister in the room; that was one of the most awkward experiences I have ever had while watching a movie.