This may come as a shock to you but I have never seen Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult classic The Room. And while this is clearly a film that stands on its own, I was pleased to see it from the safety of a “Rifftrax” event.
It’s probably less shocking that The Room shares a lot of qualities of Plan 9 From Outer Space, for better and worse. For example, it is idiosyncratic as hell. You’re not going to forget seeing it. Wiseau is not as, let’s say, erudite as Ed Wood was. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him pen a bunch of erotica a la Mr. Wood, Jr., even of the non-transvestite variety.
But he has a unique way with words that, naturally, all the characters share.
He has, for his time, the equivalent level of special effects, though. Apart from the titular Room, the movie has scenes on a rooftop, in an alley, and other locales that I think are just green screens. The rooftop definitely is and is positively hard on the eyes. The other locales aren’t great either.
It kind of has the effect of a ‘90s-era full-motion-video cut scene from a game.
And then there’s the sex scenes. Oh, good lord. I’ve never seen a riffed-on movie that had sex scenes—certainly not long ones with nudity. I may never recover from “hipdick”. (Though, if we’re being fair—and why would we be?—"hipdick" is a staple of ’90s era softcore.) I understand the initial sex scene was twice as long in Wiseau’s preferred cut, and the secondary sex scene was actually made up of stuff not used in the first sex scene.
Well, look, Wiseau’s at least 40 in this, and his poor co-starlet is, like, 22, so, y’know, if you’re going to write, produce, direct and (most importantly) star in your very own film, you might want to take your sweet damn time about it, too, damn the poor suffering viewers. And, I guess the members of the crew who wandered into the open set. (Yes, the set was open. Never have an open set for sex scenes.)
Anyway, boffo effort from Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett: The trick of riffing a movie like The Room is that it’s simultaneously too easy—anyone can point out the obvious flaws—and too hard—because The Room really does speak for itself, on so many levels.
The boys are savvy enough to back off for long periods and let the natural laughs flow, and then when they step up to take a swing at one of the juicy meatballs Wiseau serves over the plate, they usually knock it out of the park. Although there’s one moment where Corbett points out an incongruity and then points out the absurdity of noticing a technical flaw—heh, it stuck with me even though I can’t recall what he was talking about.
I laughed harder at the Santa Claus one but this is still a magical ride. A strange, magical ride.