I am unreasonably excited for tonight’s NYU Local field trip to a screening of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Ever since I first saw the movie this summer–well, actually for several months before I saw it–I’ve been nursing a growing obsession. Because while this might not be the worst movie ever made (I maintain that the throne still belongs to Robo Vampire), it could very well be the best worst movie ever made.
When I try to describe its appeal to others, I tend to throw around the phrase “accidental genius” a lot. Of course, that’s a misnomer; isn’t all genius accidental? The difference is that in this case, the director/writer/producer/star seems to think his baby is absolutely brilliant for reasons that not only diverge, but run completely contrary to why it’s so good. He thinks he’s making some grand statement about humanity, but what makes this movie so fascinating, and so worth rewatching, is how much he is really revealing to us about his own crazed psyche.
So my advice to first-time viewers of The Room is this: don’t just take it at face value. Watch it as a meta-film, where the main character is actually Tommy Wiseau. If you do that, you’re basically watching a completely different movie; instead of a shitty, unintentionally funny drama, it becomes a genius dark comedy about a poor, deluded, tormented soul who thinks he’s making the next Citizen Kane.
If this were all some elaborate piece of performance art, I think it would be hailed as one of the greatest cult comedies of our time. But the fact that this is an actual train wreck only makes it more hypnotic, and its appeal even more enduring.