Lots of movies are badly written, badly acted, or just ineptly made. What sets The Room apart is its total, guileless, accidental commitment to all of those things. If the mysterious writer/director/star Tommy Wiseau had set out to make something as hilariously awful as the movie turned out to be—if he had been a winking ironist instead of an earnest amateur—a cult might not have sprung up around The Room. But this special combination of total cluelessness, complete confidence, and some sort of magical fairy dust (possibly contained in the additional dialogue recording) have turned it into a midnight-movie favorite.
Part of the credit should also go to Wiseau, a filmmaker whose origins, accent, and financial background are unknown. When audiences started laughing at his film—which he intended to be a serious drama about relationships, and which ends [SPOILER ALERT] with his suicide—Wiseau decided to laugh at it, too. He now openly calls the movie a dark comedy, though he refuses to acknowledge—in his own inscrutable way—how terrible it actually is. In his mind, apparently, he’s made a masterpiece.
Our guest, Eric Wareheim of Tim And Eric Awesome Show, Great Job, was one of the film’s earliest proponents. He and his partner Tim Heidecker brought Wiseau on to their show when the film was starting to take root in the public consciousness, and they even attempted to help Wiseau get his sitcom off the ground. (Wareheim told us that he and Heidecker approached Comedy Central about funding it, but that Wiseau was dead serious when he said it belonged on a major network. He apparently thought it could be the next Friends.)
Even though much of the film was actually shot in Los Angeles—on sound stages, with green screen, and inexplicably on both 35mm and digital video—it’s supposed to be set in San Francisco. We know this because there are establishing shots of various SF landmarks, and a reference to a “hospital on Guerrero Street” that doesn’t actually exist. But thankfully, for the purposes of Pop Pilgrims anyway, one of the film’s most memorable scenes was filmed on location at a flower shop in San Francisco. That business is gone now, replaced by a nice little coffee shop called Café Sophie—the owner told us that he gets Room fans in occasionally, and that he still has the original flower shop sign in storage.
We also visited the building that provided the establishing exterior shot for Johnny’s apartment in The Room, and attempted to re-create some of the magic of the film’s infamous alley scene—in which the characters inexplicably toss a football around while wearing tuxedos and talking about nothing important. (Also: What’s so mysterious about Mark’s lack of facial hair?!)