University of California Los Angeles Tommy Wiseau The Room Analysis




For this lesson, you watched one of the greatest pieces of art in American cinematic history.


Okay, maybe it’s not that great. But that’s what makes it great!

The Room is widely considered to be the worst movie ever made. It is important to understand that this movie was made 100% seriously. It’s not a satire or parody, but rather the completely honest effort of Tommy Wiseau, an eccentric character determined to make it big in the film industry.

The movie failed spectacularly, making $1,800 in box office earnings despite having a $6 Million budget. Still, The Room managed to develop an insanely powerful cult following, and thousands of people watch the movie every week at screenings that almost resemble rituals!

Our primary text in this course is The Disaster Artist, a memoir written by Greg Sestero (the co-star of The Room) and journalist Tom Bissell. Together, they document Sestero’s time working on the film with Wiseau, but the memoir also provides a fascinating look into the relationship between Sestero and Wiseau. Trust me, it’s quite the story!

For today’s lesson, however, I want to focus on The Room. Let’s review some of the film’s most notable scenes, and in doing so, I’ll be providing some guiding questions for analyzing each one.

In the flower shop scene, pay particularly close attention to the dialogue’s pacing. This most heavily impacts the “Text” portion of our rhetorical triangle. The conversation between Johnny and the shop owner happens at lightening speed, and some of the statements exchanged are quite bizarre. Can you identify what about their conversation is so strange?

This is almost certainly The Room‘s most famous scene. Though it begins with a hilarious bit of bad acting, the scene goes on to reveal some troubling beliefs and attitudes held by the chief rhetor, Tommy Wiseau. Wiseau’s inability to show empathy after hearing a story of domestic violence foreshadows many of his interactions with women in The Disaster Artist. How would you rewrite this scene to make it more sensitive and appropriate?

This scene completely undermines Johnny’s ethos in the film, but I do not believe it is done intentionally. What is the major contradiction we see in this scene, and what is its effect on ethos?

After you’ve finished watching these scenes, reply to this discussion below. In 200-300 words, analyze one of the three scenes above. Specifically mention which scene you are talking about, and discuss one rhetorical failure that it embodies based on our rhetorical triangle. You can write about any of the following terms

Rhetor: Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Text: Genre, Style & Tone, Message & Purpose, Medium

Audience: Demographics, Psychographics, Discourse Communities

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