So after hearing and reading about it from all over, and then in preparation for the RiffTrax release, I finally bought and watched The Room. (In case you haven’t heard of the movie, it’s a comically inept melodrama-turned-comedy that developed a cult following after being relentlessly promoted in the LA area. Imagine this scene repeated over an hour and a half and you get the idea).
As for the movie itself: eh. It’d gotten built up so much as being so hilariously awful that it’d be impossible to live up (or down, I guess) to expectations. I’ve seen worse movies; I’ve even seen more jaw-droppingly odd movies. Sure, there are definitely several transcendent moments of weirdness. And the mantra-like repetition of “I don’t want to talk about it” and “Everything will be okay, don’t worry about it” and “Oh, hi Denny” help explain why it sticks in viewers’ brains. But overall, it’s less of a hilariously schlocky B-movie and more a testament to ineptitude: it’s got all the eroticism and nudity of soft-core porn, with the acting performances, music, and plot coherence of hard-core porn. But with a fascinatingly bizarre lead character.
You can’t read anything about The Room without its mentioning Tommy Wiseau, the producer, writer, director, and star. He’s always described as “mysterious” and “vaguely Eastern European,” and he reveals little of himself in interviews. Most writers just accept this as a charming eccentricity and go on with their work, but it took somebody of my unique background as wannabe-hipster and videogame aficionado to uncover the real secret. And in a blog exclusive, I’m blowing the lid off this story:
Tommy Wiseau is a Starman, like Jeff Bridges. But instead of hanging around Karen Allen, he learned everything he knows about the ways of humans from playing The Sims. (And, presumably, watching soft-core porn).
Not convinced? Well, screw you.
I’m sorry. Are you okay? Don’t worry about it. Everything will be okay. Check it out, the evidence is incontrovertible:
- Everything in the movie takes place in the living room, bedroom, and roof of an apartment. Occasionally it will show Johnny in Golden Gate Park, leading me to believe that he bought one of the Sims expansion packs.
- The movie frequently shows stock scenes of San Francisco (Neighborhood View), and establishes the hell out of Johnny and Lisa’s building (Active Lot).
- The movie suggests the surrounding city with a flat, low-resolution and geographically impossible backdrop of buildings.
- In the beginning of the movie, Johnny and Lisa are having an ostensibly romantic moment when their neighbor/adopted son Denny walks in. Denny is a man-child of indeterminate age; he functions in the story as roughly a twelve-year-old, but appears to be an adult in his early 20s. (He must be adult-sized or the object animations won’t line up).
- Johnny and Lisa head upstairs to have sex (referred to as “WooHoo” in Sims parlance). Denny stands in place for a moment, folds his arms then drops them to his sides, then realizing he’s alone, walks upstairs to watch.
- Interrupted pre-coitus by the curious Denny, Johnny and Lisa react not with revulsion, but by taking part in an impromptu pillow fight. (++Fun)
- As in The Sims 2, sex in The Room involves spontaneous generation of rose petals.
- Johnny is obsessed with his job, even though he simply disappears for most of the day, and we are given no clue where he works or what he does. (Towards the end of the movie, a “bank” is mentioned, once). He is devastated when he doesn’t get a promotion. Even when he left the house in a good mood after having WooHoo the previous night. The viewer is left to presume that Johnny has not yet made the prerequisite number of relationships, and this is when his previously unseen friend Peter appears. Coincidence?
- Having no job or means of support of her own, Lisa spends most of her days at home making phone calls. She repeatedly performs Invite Over… on her mother.
- Her mother (who definitely has breast cancer) expresses concern that she is going to lose her house. (Without a home lot, Sims cease to exist).
- Conversations between Lisa and her mother, and in fact between any two or three characters throughout the movie, jump wildly from topic to topic without any apparent train of thought or motivation. The same lines are repeated frequently. Replace “Oh hi, <name>” with “Dag Dag” and “Don’t worry about it, let’s go home” with “Sool sool” and the implications of this soon become clear: someone has mistaken Simlish speech patterns for actual human conversation.
- Visits between characters seem to last for an indeterminate amount of time and then end suddenly. (The characters’ social meter is full, meaning they no longer need to engage in conversation).
- Impromptu football games break out constantly, with no rhyme or reason. Denny is particularly obsessed with asking others to Play->Play Catch.
- Planning a wild night, Lisa uses the phone to Telephone->Delivery->Order Pizza. Johnny is elated. This is the highlight of both characters’ day, if not life.
- Characters frequently make wildly inappropriate advances or outbursts. Other characters react violently or in shock, then everyone immediately returns to normal. Seconds later, a character will perform the exact same action as before.
- Lisa (Johnny’s future bride) seduces Mark (Johnny’s best friend!) via Romantic->Flirt, Romantic->Whisper in Ear, Romantic->Flirt, Romantic->Invite to Cuddle. Mark repeatedly rejects her advances, but she continues, undaunted and acting as if she has no memory of the previous exchange. This continues until their relationship meter is sufficiently high, at which point Mark agrees completely and unreservedly to Romantic->WooHoo.
- The evidence is clearest at Johnny’s birthday party (Expansion pack 2: The Sims House Party), which Lisa (his future bride) arranged for him by using Telephone->Throw Party:
- Eight guests arrive. (Lots cannot contain more than 8 characters simultaneously).
- Lisa stands suddenly and without provocation, asks everyone to go outside for cake.
- With the other guests having just left, including her mother, Lisa (Johnny’s future bride) starts to make romantic advances on Mark (Johnny’s best friend!). Mark accepts, then rejects, then accepts, with no apparent method to his behavior or memory of events that happened seconds ago.
- Outside, Johnny announces that he and Lisa are expecting. The other partygoers cheer, then immediately return to normal as if nothing had changed.
- Back inside, the characters have split into couples all performing Dance->Slow Dance on each other. This includes Lisa and Mark, with Johnny in the room. (Sims had no situational awareness until Sims 2).
- Johnny attacks Mark, Mark reacts. They go back to normal. Seconds later, Mark attacks Johnny, Johnny reacts. They both go back to normal. Johnny tries Social->Ask to Leave one more time. Their relationship meters having deteriorated sufficiently, the action is successful and Mark finally leaves.
- We can even deduce which expansion packs Wiseau had installed. The apartment has a spiral staircase, which was introduced in The Sims Unleashed. Wiseau apparently did not have a lot of time to experiment with this expansion, which explains his somewhat cursory acknowledgement of the existence of dogs.
Faced with such an overwhelming amount of evidence, the reader can make only one conclusion: I’ve spent far too much of my life playing The Sims. But also, the Tommy Wiseau’s-a-videogame-playing-alien thing.
Rumor has it that a live-action Sims movie is in the works at 20th Century Fox. There is no need, sirs: that movie already exists, and it is called The Room.