So Bad, They’re Laughable: Rock Bottom Films and Their Rise to the Top (A&E)

 

Box office bomb. Poorly made. Just plain bad. These are all commonly used phrases to describe the movies that don’t quite live up to audience’s expectations.

However, the same movies that are labeled with those criticisms have also been labeled as hilarious, cult classics and fan favorites as time passes. This brings up a puzzling question; how would an initially poorly received movie be able to achieve such a favorable status?

This certainly becomes an interesting question to ponder when examining one of the latest trends the field of cinema is experiencing. Tommy Wiseau’s critical bomb “The Room” has been received extremely poorly by critics, standing at a disappointing 3.6 score on IMDB.com. However, the movie has proven to be a hit with audiences, who have been able to reconstruct the movie’s abysmal acting and sloppy script into typical Internet humor and jokes.

Tommy Wiseau also vehemently stands by his film, and has said in many an interview that “The Room” is a much better movie than most will give it credit for. In a Reddit Q&A interview, Wiseau makes some pretty big statements about his film’s relation to society.

“’The Room’ is a red flag for society, for people to do better, to be better to each other basically,” Wiseau said. “I’ve been doing this for 12 years, saying that.”

Even with Wiseau’s explanations and a general understanding of Internet humor in mind, there are still questions that are begging to be asked. Why would people willingly see a movie that is widely considered to be bad? Is it all for finding the humor in the horrid? Or is it more in an attempt to find value in the void of a bad movie?

Benjamin Thornburgh, a mass communications junior, is no stranger to finding the humor in the most obscure, or rather unexpected, of situations. His quirky brand of humor can be found throughout his presence on social media, which includes posts about “The Room.” For Thornburgh, the appreciation for movies that are ‘so bad they’re good’ started at an early age.

“Watching ‘so bad they’re good’ movies is something one of my best childhood friends had been doing since we were 9 or 10 years old,” said Thornburgh. “It’s deep rooted for me, and even now I’m finding new movies that fit into that mold that are just gold for me.”

Thornburgh believes that the audience’s fascination to movies that fall more into the cult classic classification, rather than just flat out bad, has more to do with individual taste in humor than anything else.

“It’s almost like an inside joke about watching them,” Thornburgh said. “Yeah, you’re going to be making fun of the creators of the film. But there’s charm behind it. I’m always so curious to know what it was like to be on the set, to know why they made some decisions they made.”

Thornburgh also made note of a possible disconnect from reality on the filmmakers’ part.

“There’s being a bad filmmaker, and there’s a totally different level of being disconnected from what’s good,” Thornburgh said. “I think the best so bad they’re good movies are the ones that are just so overtly horrid that you can’t deny it.”

Samantha Autry, a sophomore with a minor in film studies, feels that the sudden burst of ‘so bad they’re good’ movies is far from recent news, rather they’ve been around longer than some people realize.

“I feel like this has been a long time coming,” Autry said. “They’re just big moneymakers, because at this point they know people are going to watch them because they’re so bad.”

Autry cites the SyFy television movie series “Sharknado” as an example of movies that were created for people to laugh at and mock, rather than find any redeemable value in. Autry also has her own guidelines on how to classify a movie as ‘so bad it’s good.’

“I don’t think I’d ever purposefully put money into seeing something that’s bad,” Autry said. “But if it’s funny to watch, then that’s a plus.”

Autry partially agrees with Thornburgh’s point that the filmmakers may be disconnected from reality during the filmmaking process, but she also believes that, as the years go on, the filmmakers are more inclined to just spit out a movie to make the big box office bucks.

“I think some people make movies, and they’re taken the wrong way, and they just turn out bad,” Autry said. “But I also feel that, like with any Sharknado movie, was made as a joke, and they knew they could make money off of it, and they did, and they continue to.”

Taylor Pope, a technical theater sophomore, has an understanding of why people seem to be so fascinated with ‘so bad they’re good’ movies, “The Room” in particular, even though she has never seen the movie.

“I know a lot of people like to make fun of how bad the acting is,” Pope said. “As much as I can understand the jokes without having seen the movie, I think they’re pretty funny.”

When it comes down to the distinction between a movie that is so bad it’s good and a movie that is just plain bad, Benjamin Thornburgh believes that the ability to acknowledge the amount of passion and work from the filmmakers is important for audiences to keep hold of.

“Every movie is going to have people that either love it or hate it,” Thornburgh said. “But with movies like ‘The Room,’ I can see the passion of the filmmakers in the final product, so there’s value in it for me.”

Even with the acknowledgment of the filmmaker’s hard work in mind, Thornburgh also believes it’s important to realize when there’s just no defending a terrible movie.

“I don’t think anyone who isn’t delusional would be able to see quality work put into a movie that isn’t there,” Thornburgh said. “Some movies are just outright bad, there are no good qualities and no defending it.”

As Hollywood continues to push out more monster storm thrillers, and Wiseau prepares to take “The Room” to Broadway, audiences are continuing to support this rising trend of ‘so bad they’re good’ movies. With movie critics slowly coming around to accepting this trend, only time will tell what kind of movies are headed to a theater near you.

 

 

Source Contact Info:

Benjamin Thornburgh: bthornburgh0421@lions.piedmont.edu

Samantha Autry: sautry0422@lions.piedmont.edu

Taylor Pope: tpope0428@lions.piedmont.edu

Link to Wiseau’s interview: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/2zdzik/tommy_wiseau_creator_of_the_room_and_the_new_tv/

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