Fixing the unfixable: rewriting THE ROOM

Let’s pretend that I was hired to write story notes for THE ROOM back in 2003. I transcribed a script excerpt of the first scene and I wrote five pages of hypothetical constructive criticism.



If you haven’t seen the movie, check it out. You can find it online.

If you’re wondering why I did this, read on.


Many consider THE ROOM the worst movie of all time. Admittedly, it’s a perfect storm of bad direction, bad acting, and a bad script.

That said, I’ve read way, way, worse. Seriously.

When I first watched THE ROOM, my hipster friends oversold me on how titanically bad it was, that Tommy Wiseau was some kind of anti-genius who set words to paper in an order that no one can match. It’s not so (1).

THE ROOM is bad in an ordinary way, underfed, anemic, unfocused. It reads like a lot of first drafts I’ve read from foreigners. Unpolished, cheesily sincere, struggling with a lack of introspection as well as a lack of familiarity with English. (2)

The truth is, THE ROOM is what you’d get if you shot any weak first draft with amateur actors. Say what you will, the author presented his vision, told the story he wanted to tell, finished a draft, and fundamentally gave a shit. It takes courage to put your work out there, and I’m always saddened by the naked glee people put into ripping down other people’s creative work. I may be cynical, but I try not to be mean. (3)

Any idiot can point out when something’s not working. It’s much harder to give notes. Most notes are either vague, or too specific. By that I mean that they reflect the note givers personal taste. It’s actually really hard to give notes that are both helpful and agnostic. You want to point out what’s working, but you don’t want to give notes that make it sound like you’re the soul arbiter of good taste. Trust me: you’re not.

So let’s pretend that Tommy Wiseau approached me for notes in 2003 (4), a few weeks prior to shooting THE ROOM. I quickly identify this as a bad script, but he’s shooting this either way, and I don’t want to be the jerk that says “learn to write better dumbass.”

These are the notes I would have given. (5)


(1) Also, it’s unfair to Ed Wood, who was brilliantly, gleefully bad in a wonderful way. He was an anti-genius. Talk to me when Wiseau gets a Tim Burton movie.

(2) Cynics may note that I’m being a complete, douchy contrarian here. They have a point.

(3) I fail at this all the time. I apologize.

(4) Let’s also pretend that I had a coaching business then, and that I had the competence of 2014 me. I was a fucking idiot 12 years ago.

(5) See my services page. You can get notes like these for $100 if you want. (6)

(6) Oddly, even though these are pretend notes for a pretend client, I feel a pang of guilt for violating pretend client confidentiality. (7)

(7) Yes, I put footnotes in footnotes. What of it?

Published by Matt Lazarus

WGA screenwriter offering in-depth writing instruction, notes, critique, and assistance.

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