The Room (2003)
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this notorious midnight-movie sensation, though not gory or pornographic like some other "cult" pictures, has extramarital sex scenes showing plenty of bare skin. Characters swear and get drunk under extreme duress. Sexual infidelity is key to the story, and the plot, if it can be taken seriously, ends with a blameless character committing suicide, essentially "getting even" with people whose treacheries hurt him.
What's the story?
As with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, moviegoers with weird tastes flocked to this cheap, no-name, downbeat drama and made it an audience-participation experience, jamming on the bad dialogue, arbitrary scene changes, and what-were-they-thinking? production values. THE ROOM tells of San Francisco banking executive Johnny (Tommy Wiseau, who also wrote, directed, produced, etc.) engaged to marry live-in fiancee Lisa. Everyone thinks Johnny is a great guy, but two-faced Lisa cheats on him with Mark, Johnny's best friend. Even Lisa and Mark scold each other: "How could you do this? Johnny is my/your best friend!" That one's recited repeatedly, almost ritualistically. Meanwhile, Johnny mentors a teen in trouble with a drug dealer. Johnny chases the dealer away, but unfortunately that leaves the criminal's gun in Johnny's hands -- fatefully at the time he finally realizes how the love of his life (and his best friend, don't forget) have betrayed him.
Is it any good?
Unlike most Ed Wood-esque movies, THE ROOM isn't a creature feature or backyard filmmakers trying to be Quentin Tarentino; it's sincerely attempting Great Drama. Younger viewers might just get bored with The Room and its talky psychodynamics and wonder what the appeal is. Certainly while watched at home, and not in a raucous movie-theater audience (where avid Room-mates would dress up like the characters and throw plastic forks), the saga of relationships/acting gone wrong just isn't as fun.
By now every movie fan knows -- and many love -- Ed Wood, the bizarre actor-writer-director who, in his 1950s heyday, concocted inept little horror films, crime dramas, and exploitation movies that later audiences found hilarious because they were so awful. THE ROOM had many "admirers'" calling it a modern Ed Wood flick -- the mystifying way actors clumsily enter and exit, laughable love songs during bedroom scenes, the self-cast star Tommy Wiseau, with his odd foreign accent and Conan the Barbarian hairstyle.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the appeal of this movie despite the bad dialogue and poor production values. What makes it so popular? Why are some movies known for being "audience participation films"?
Talk about "cult" movies in general -- you'll find lots of books in the library on the subject. Many films (not necessarily horrible ones) like Harold and Maude and even Disney's Fantasia weren't initially popular, and even got rejected by critics and viewers, only to be later crowned way-cool. Do you have any cherished favorites that the rest of the world hasn't appreciated yet?