If you have not heard of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room all I can say is WOW. You need to know this film. It is arguably, one of the most successful and, to this day, one of the truest indie films of all times.
Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is perhaps the greatest cult film of all time.
To this day, you cannot stream or download it. You can only see this movie by purchasing the DVD or in the theater at one of the handful of screenings personally arranged by the filmmaker.
You should know that Tommy Wiseau’s The Room has also been called “The Citizen Kane of Bad Movies.”
The short synopsis is a love triangle between Wiseau’s banker character Johnny, his duplicitous fiancée Lisa (played by the lovely Juliette Danielle), and his snake-in-the-grass best-friend-yet-anguished best friend Mark (Greg Sestero).
It’s poorly written, has no cohesive narrative, a breast cancer subplot that literally is mentioned once and never again, bad sex scenes, cheesy soundtrack and … and frankly no review or description I could write would ever do it justice.
To find everything wrong with “The Room” check out CinemaSins, “Everything Wrong With The Room In 8 Minutes Or Less”. That will get you up to speed.
The story of “The Room” is not so much about what’s on screen, although that is unbelievable. It is really about what happened behind the scenes to get the movie made and out to the world.
The entire process was documented in Greg Sestero’s 2013 book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Film Ever Made”.
I’d suggest you get the audiobook because it is read by Sestero and he takes it to a whole other level that you would not get by reading it.
Sestero tells us about himself and his friend, Wiseau, who, in 1998, meet as struggling actors in San Francisco. They make the move to LA to make it big in the movie business. But LA being LA, they have a hard time making it.
Wiseau who is apparently independently wealthy, decides he will make his own project that both Wiseau and Sestero can star in: first as a play, then novel and finally, in 2003, a movie.
With the screenplay finished, Wiseau sets out to make his first independent film.
What comes next is a cautionary tale for filmmakers of what not to do: spending too much money, having a lead actor who can’t remember lines and on and on.
So the film gets done and rather than pursue the festival route, Wiseau rents out one billboard near Highland Avenue and Foutain in Hollywood with an image Wiseau which lists a phone number to find out where it’s playing. You can hear the recording here.
He then rents a theater to hold his own premiere. It is a disaster – few people show up. However, Wiseau keeps paying for the theater for two weeks so he can qualify for a The Oscars.
Talk about some indie filmmaker balls!
Wiseau then continues midnight showings of the film develops a rabid cult following including celebrity fans Will Arnett, Kristen Bell, David Cross, Tim Heidecker, Patton Oswalt, Paul Rudd, Eric Wareheim, Seth Rogen, and James and Dave Franco.
About a year after Sestero’s book is released, James Franco acquired the rights to the book and along with Seth Rogan made, what I think is one of the best films of 2017. Many are saying it’s James Franco’s best role. Which for me makes up for his HBO show “The Duce” – not his best work but that’s another story.
Here’s a 2014 clip from the former US radio show “Opie and Anthony” of Rogan talking about the project.
If you are going to see “The Disaster Artist” and haven’t seen “The Room” I highly recommend you do it in this order:
1. Get the DVD and watch “The Room”
2. Watch CinemaSins, “Everything Wrong With The Room In 8 Minutes Or Less” [see above]
3. Then see Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” film
4. Finally, get Sestero’s audio book of “The Disaster Artist”
While “The Room: didn’t win Wiseau an Oscar or any other award, “The Disaster Artist” has already won several including a Best Actor award for James Franco from Gotham Independent Film Awards.
Wiseau’s passion for filmmaking is something with which all of us filmmakers can relate. We all have our stories to tell and Wiseau shows us a way to get them to the screen.
With James Franco’s portrayal of him, perhaps we can start seeing the humanity in filmmakers like Wiseau who gave us all something we can enjoy on many levels.