January 26, 2014

GORDON & OKIN| The Worst Movie Ever Made

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Throughout this semester, Brian Gordon ’14 and Harrison Okin ’14 will use this column space to cover topics close to their hearts.  Today, they give their immediate reactions to what many claim is the worst movie ever made, 2003’s The Room.

“Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect.” — Mark Twain

BRIAN GORDON: I doubt Twain ever saw The Room, but the quote above fits perfectly with the “so bad, it’s good” titan that is this movie.  It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen, and I don’t think I’ve enjoyed myself so much during a film in years.

HARRISON OKIN: Often regarded as the most terrible movie of all time, The Room captures all the strange emotions I crave in a cinematic experience. I chortled at the absurdity; I unleashed one too many curses during the infidelity; I clutched my comfort-pillow after the catastrophe. Bravo to Mr. Tommy Wisseau, the master auteur who directed, wrote and starred in the flick that deftly (or unwittingly) leaves the audience flummoxed with the burning question: “What in the world did I just watch?”

B.G.: Easy on the spoilers, Harry. The plot’s really just your average Shakespearean tragedy. If Shakespeare had never met another human being before. And had Gene Simmons’s hair. This movie is tacky, frequently incoherent and impossibly sexist. I agree with the mother character — the daughter should marry the man she doesn’t love. He can buy her stuff. Stuff! It’s not a comedy, but I laughed to tears. It’s not a sports movie, but the football scenes would make Rudy blush. Or die. It’s not a porno, but its aesthetics suggest otherwise.

H.O.: Wisseau is the antithesis of Chekhov. Introduce a drug-fueled robbery in the first act and never address it again!

B.G.: Don’t forget about the breast cancer. Because everyone else in the movie does.

H.O.: It sounds like Wisseau learned English from watching Japanese anime, then refined his approach by taking speech classes taught by Dr. Nick from The Simpsons. And I dare say his endless supply of silk shirts (nearly all of which are subsequently ripped open) could rival the wardrobe of The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.

B.G.: All very true. We could go on ridiculing this thoroughly enjoyable movie until graduation. The sex scenes alone deserve their own column. Nothing this spectacular can be “the worst” in my eyes. It’s been dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies,” but I’d rather watch The Room on loop than spend an afternoon watching a cranky Orson Welles yearn for a sled.

H.O.: People are so fixated on the opinions of critics and the outcomes of award shows that they often forget the true essence of entertainment: enjoyment. We spend too much time marvelling over how much weight Jared Leto lost and quibbling about whether Jennifer Lawrence’s Long Island accent is better than her Philadelphia twang. Awards are great, but they are far from gospel in deciding what movies we should watch. If enjoying myself means seeking out bottom-of-the-barrel B-movie scum to ridicule, then dagnabbit, that’s what I’m going to do!

B.G.: Preach.  I’d prefer to watch a  B- or Z-movie over one of the many vanilla “A-films” that get nominated for Best Picture each year. “Non-descript” might be the single quality that makes a movie “the worst.” But being absurdly nonsensical can be better than nothing. Attending a party at which someone screams randomly at a wall every half-hour provides something special that a party at which everyone just sits quietly in chairs does not.  A random scream spurs a reaction, gives you something to think, talk and laugh about.

H.O.: If I’m understanding you correctly, which I never do, you believe bad movies can be saved by spontaneity?

B.G.: Maybe. At least, something that causes a strong reaction can’t be the worst movie of all time. Similar to the way I find your general disposition on life to be outlandish and occasionally unpleasant. But it’s unique, so you’re not my worst friend.

H.O.: “Friend” might be pushing it, Brian.

B.G.: I’m still cracking up over different parts of this film.  Even the title. We both agree the major character development occurs in an alleyway with a football and tuxedos.

H.O.: The Room’s droll and random tuxedo-football moments were probably my favorite sequences ever filmed on camera, but perhaps that’s only because they eerily brought me back to the days of Bar Mitzvah photo-shoots.

B.G.: I’ve had the company from Eternal Sunshine wipe my Bar Mitzvah from memory. They were instructed to leave The Room untouched.