The Room is critically and (pretty much) factually hailed as the worst movie of all time. And no, not Room, the moving Academy Award winner starring Brie Larson. THE Room. The ultimate so-bad-it’s-good, I couldn’t even explain the plot to you if I tried, movie that has a niche but loyal cult following. Which I am a proud member of.
The Disaster Artist, written by one of the actors/producers of the flick, is a novel that tells the story of what it was like to work on that set, and to know the mysterious writer-director, Tommy Wiseau. This book is being turned into a movie with James and Dave Franco, giving The Room the attention it honest to god deserves.
But with it getting more mainstream spotlight, it’s time to delve into what exactly makes the movie so bad. It has a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes. One liners from reviews include “this movie is like getting stabbed in the head” and “the Citizen Kane of bad movies.” And sure, most of this is attributed to the fact that the script makes absolutely no sense, the acting is horrific, it was shot on two different kinds of cameras, and it has over ten minutes of wildly uncomfortable sex scenes. It is literally impossible to not laugh out loud at how straight up bad this movie is.
But watching this film with a modern lens, you notice the treatment of women in this movie is also pretty despicable, or at least it would be if anyone who watched this movie took it even a little bit seriously. But since it’s just so terrible, the blatant sexism is actually kind of funny.
Johnny, the main character, played by the incomparable Tommy Wiseau, blames every single one of his problems on his girlfriend Lisa (Juliette Danielle) no matter what the situation. And sure, she is having an affair with Johnny’s best friend Mark, played by my true hero Greg Sestero, but even the way they go about painting this rendezvous is superfluously demeaning to Lisa.
Lisa, the only main female in the film, is painted as a careless, complacent, lying, ungrateful wench who is hurting Johnny just for entertainment. She’s given no background or motivations (though, none of the characters are) to explain her cheating or why she feels so bored in life, she just does it so that Johnny can paint her the bad guy and blame everything that goes wrong in his life on her.
This is usually the point where I would put a hand on my hip, wag my finger, and say, “That’s unfair!” But no. The Room is an exception. Here, Lisa’s rash actions, and the way Johnny responds to them, are so impossible to ingest earnestly. Your eyes just bug out of your head as you wonder, “Am I really watching this now?”
The way people interact with other people in The Room in no way reflects real life at all. So when Lisa acts like this floozy, manipulative monster, our instinct is not to think of it as a representation of the human experience, it is to laugh at how ridiculous it is.
You could almost call it feminist parody or satire, had it not been made with 100% genuine intentions.
There are so many reasons The Room has wound up as the “worst movie of all time,” and gender inequality is one of the more abstract and nuanced ways it does so. It alone doesn’t make the movie bad, but it really gives it that push. It hammers in the unrealistic portrayal of human interactions, and makes sexism something worth laughing at for once.