Film Review: Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room”


Many years ago in my mother’s garden, a mint plant – suddenly and out of nowhere – began to grow.  At first no one noticed it but eventually it got pretty big and was hard to ignore, kind of like a weed but better-smelling.  My mother didn’t mind having a mint plant but also didn’t think much of it.  Eventually though, it started to grow more and more until it seemed to have a life of its own.  She still doesn’t care for it, but I love it.

And that’s my metaphor for the 2003 film “The Room,” written and directed by Tommy Wiseau, who also plays the lead, the well-meaning, good-natured, but ultimate victim, Johnny.  For those unfamiliar with its infamy, here’s a brief version of its origin: Wiseau, after making millions in a way that he is reluctant to discuss, decided to finance the making of a drama he’d written and planned to direct.  The film’s story is clichéd, digressive, has numerous unresolved subplots, and occasionally unintentionally borders on the surreal.

Descriptions of the making of the film, from those involved, sound like someone trying to build a house without any plans.  Scenes were shot then re-shot but in different locations on sets Wiseau inexplicably had built.  The actors would arrive on set only to discover that Wiseau had decided to shoot a completely new and unplanned scene, like the day he decided to have some of the male characters play catch football on the street while wearing tuxedos.  There is nothing wrong with your Internet – you read that last sentence correctly.

Not surprisingly, “The Room” only had a brief release in Los Angeles and was savagely panned.  But within a couple of years, the film had become a cult hit while playing at midnight screenings.  When looked at objectively, it has a story that seems very much like a romance novel but with the gender roles reversed.  Johnny spends much of the film at the mercy of his unfaithful and duplicitous girlfriend, Lisa.  She tells lies about him, cheats on him with his best friend, and takes advantage of his good nature.  Johnny is friendly, easy-going, generous with the money he’s made in banking, likable, and always the victim.  Johnny even resembles some classic, tragic heroines of modern and gothic romances.

“The Room” is also going to be a victim of sorts on Tuesday.  It already was last week when the RiffTrax crew, who were the stars of Mystery Science Theater 3000, did a live commentary of the film – complete with their signature shout-outs and sideline sarcasm – that was broadcast to hundreds of movie theaters in the U.S. and Canada.  That encore performance takes place May 12.

For more information on the RiffTrax Live! series, go to  Tickets can be purchased at  The remaining films in the 2015 tour are “Sharknado 2,” “Miami Connection” and “Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny.”  The world premiere of the RiffTrax Live! performance of “The Room” took place at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival.

Video: An interview with Tommy Wiseau, director and star of “The Room” – Los Angeles, May 2015

interview by Jim Higgins / Meniscus Magazine
video by Wade-Hahn Chan / Meniscus Magazine

Wiseau talked to Meniscus Magazine about “The Room,” its RiffTrax performances, his comedy series The Neighbors on Hulu and many other things.  He also tosses a football with some Meniscus staff members: