Arts & Entertainment

An inside on The Room: How The Disaster Artist pays tribute to a cult classic

Cody Myers
Contributing Writer

Humans are social creatures that specialize in storytelling. Stories that could once only be passed along through word of mouth and exaggerated, like a fisherman’s tale, can now be immortalized in film. Movies create an intimate bond with their audience, one that prompts discussions and fuels an undying fanbase. There is one movie that exists with a following as steadfast as Star Wars and has interactive screenings similar to cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This work of art is The Room.

This 2003 masterpiece was written, directed, produced and starred in by Tommy Wiseau. The mysterious man came to Hollywood looking to become a famous movie star. Without any experience, he set out to make a serious romance drama. The Room is about an engaged couple, Johnny and Lisa, but tension grows as Lisa begins an affair with Johnny’s best friend Mark, played by Tommy’s real life best friend, Greg Sestero.

On December 1, 2017, The Disaster Artist was released in theaters, telling the back-story of the friendship between Tommy and Greg and how The Room came to be. It explains how Tommy followed his dreams and spent six million dollars making such a movie.

While filming, his unorthodox methods created tension on set. Things only got worse as Tommy learned that his film crew thought very little of him. He spied on them by having behind the scenes footage recorded, which he later watched, resulting in his mistreatment of them during filming.

Despite the growing hostility on set, The Room was finished and premiered to a decent sized audience. Unfortunately for Tommy, people did not take the movie seriously. The movie was met with laughs because it was so bad, the audience found it humorous.

Tommy was heartbroken and left the theater, only to be convinced by Greg to return and finish watching the rest of his hard work. After that day, he changed the self-proclaimed genre of the movie, advertising it as a dark comedy.

Although The Room’s original theatrical run only made $1,800, it continues to sell out at spontaneous screenings, in which fans shout quotes and throw plastic spoons at the movie screen. This cult following gave Greg the idea to co-write a book with American journalist, Tom Bissell, about his experiences with Tommy both on and off the set.

The 2013 best-seller book, The Disaster Artist, gave depth to Tommy and made him more human to fans. This candid perspective inspired James Franco to put the origin story of “the best worst movie ever made” to the big screen.

In a world saturated with remakes and sequels, some expected The Disaster Artist to be primarily a shot-for-shot remake of The Room. Despite the easy cash-in potentials, the movie minimized its recreations to a few scenes pushed to the credits.

The movie storybooks its humble intentions by opening with famous people talking about how much they love The Room, and ends like a documentary, showing what the real Tommy and Greg are up to now.

The Disaster Artist succeeds at being a stand-alone movie that also rewards those obsessed enough to know the lore around The Room. It humanizes a man that, from an outside perspective, seemed so abnormal and ridiculous. For many who had already known about Tommy Wiseau, it was the first time they actually felt bad for him.

Tommy followed his dreams despite being constantly told it was beyond a one in a million shot. He is an inspiration, and the story of his pursuit invokes the emotions that he failed to conjure in his creation of The Room. His unwavering optimism is infectious and leaves the audience yearning for more. The Disaster Artist creates a natural harmony with The Room. They are the ying and yang that should be paired together for a unique movie experience with friends