There is a bounty of perplexing weirdness in 2003’s The Room, an independent film produced by the eccentric and mysterious Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau, who also wrote, directed and starred in the film, is responsible for every single one of them. Characters yell things like “Leave your stupid comments in your pocket!” before storming out of a scene. Groups of men wearing tuxedos toss around a football next to a roadway. A murderous drug dealer shows up briefly, is dragged off and then is never mentioned again. But it’s the part where one character orders a “half Canadian bacon with pineapple, half artichoke with pesto and light on the cheese” pizza that really drives home just how legendarily bad the movie is. Not only is that just a really weird pizza topping to order, but, when it finally arrives, it’s just a plain cheese pizza. If the characters are upset, or, in fact, care that their complex, three-topping, two-sauce order was wrong, they don’t mention it.
The Room’s nonsensical plot, baffling dialogue and anatomically questionable sex scenes are among the worst ever put to film. And since its release, The Room quickly and deservedly rose through the ranks (or dropped into the toilet, depending on how you look at it) to take its throne as the best worst movie ever made. Adult Swim once ran the film in its entirety instead of its regularly scheduled programming as an April Fools joke. This year’s The Disaster Artist, which stars James Franco and was adapted from a memoir about the making of The Room, written by Wiseau’s costar, Greg Sestero, is getting serious Oscar buzz.
But at the center of it all is a bad movie that has something going for it a lot of other films don’t. The best thing about The Room is its earnestness. It is, in fact, impossible to make a movie this bad on purpose. And many filmmakers have tried. Hollywood and its bargain basement cousins have been using bad actors and questionable plots for years in an attempt to tap into the cult fervor that films like The Room generate. The Syfy Channel has trotted out at least one new movie in the faux-bad Sharknado series every year since 2013. Sharknado, produced by the Asylum, a studio famous for its mockbuster cash-ins like Transmorphers and Atlantic Rim, is the antithesis of movies like The Room. Wiseau cast working actors looking for their big break. The Sharknado franchise features the likes of Jerry Springer and disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner. It was always supposed to be a joke. But The Room was supposed to be a real movie; Wiseau aspired to be the next James Dean. You can’t recreate that kind of misguided drive, no matter how many ironic cameos you cram into your movie.
After The Room became the bad movie, Wiseau started leaning into it. He popped up in 2015 as the villain in Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance, a self-aware sequel to Samurai Cop, which was an actual so-bad-it’s-good movie. Another project, The Neighbors, is a sitcom released on Hulu in 2015 that, on paper, should have been identical to The Room. It was written and directed by Wiseau, and he stars in it as two different characters. It’s full of bad actors bumbling around, speaking nonsense inside an impenetrable plot. But Wiseau is in on the joke now, and the elements that make The Room so entertaining to watch when they’re meant to be taken seriously are just annoying and boring when they’re bad on purpose. Wiseau and Greg Sestero are teaming up again for a new movie featuring comedian Paul Scheer. He’s a big Sharknado fan.
We aren’t likely to have another movie of The Room’s same distinct essence again, at least not from Wiseau. And that’s, in a way, what makes it such a gem. It’s the strange energy he brought to every bewildering frame that gives the movie its power. The Room isn’t a cult classic because of all its crazy parts. As misguided as it was, its appeal comes down to sincerity. Wiseau reached for the stars and failed spectacularly. There’s something to be celebrated there.
The Room screens at the Roxy Sat., Dec. 16, at 8 PM.
Looking for some new blood for your bad movie night? Check out this list of movies that are truly so bad they’re good.
Birdemic: The first half of this movie is a bland romantic comedy about a generic business man and a Victoria’s Secret lingerie model falling in love. The second half of the movie is about poorly animated clip-art birds attempting to destroy civilization. Best of the Worst: The scene where the main characters talk about how much they all love Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth.
Fateful Findings: Director Neil Breen stars as a vigilante hacker who is the only person who can save the world from the evils of big business and the government. Best of the Worst: The grand finale where dozens of senators and bankers hilariously kill themselves after being exposed by super-hacker Breen.
Samurai Cop: He’s a samurai, he’s a cop, he’s battling concrete-chinned Robert Z’Dar. Best of the Worst. Star Matt Hannon cut his long luxurious hair after principal shooting wrapped, but was brought back to do extensive reshoots in the fakest wig production could find.
Troll 2: There’s not a single troll to be found in this movie. Instead, a city of vegetarian goblins start turning poor tourists into plants so they can devour them. Best of the Worst: How do you stop your family from eating a tainted dinner that will turn them all into shrubbery? Peeing on it of course.
Nothing But Trouble: Dan Aykroyd wasn’t allowed to direct any more movies after turning in this gross, unsettling movie that might as well just be Texas Chainsaw Massacre for Yuppies. Best of the Worst: Dan Aykroyd’s penis-nosed judge is joined by the Digital Underground, including Tupac Shakur, for a musical number.