The Room is not just a movie. It’s an experience.
Kellie, Taylor and I spent our Saturday night at a midnight screening of this strange film, waiting in line for a good half hour to meet the man behind it all – Tommy Wiseau. Tommy wrote and directed the movie and plays the main character (creatively named Johnny). I honestly had not given the film much thought and only knew as much about it as I could read on Wikipedia. I was expecting a sort of Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque experience. Oh, but it was so much more.
We waited in line between excited groups of people speaking in hushed tones about Tommy, many holding boxes of plastic spoons. Reaching the end of the line, I saw that Tommy was dressed like a middle-schooler who listened to too much Green Day: neon green shirt, red tie, and low riding black jeans complete with one of those belts with spikes that punk/emo kids wear. He quickly shook our hands and mumbled something incoherent in his vaguely European (Serbian? Czech?) accent, posing with us for a picture. Also there for us to meet was the much quieter and somewhat charming (re: attractive in a trashy romance novel type way) Greg Sestero, who plays the best friend, Mark.
After everyone filed into the theatre and we survived someone throwing up red wine in the seat next to us, a bizarre Q&A portion of the night began. It involved people asking questions concerning the plot and the making of the movie, and Tommy going off on tangents which lead to the entire audience chanting “USA!USA!USA!” on more than one occasion. There was also a “game” involved which basically was just Greg playing catch with an empty water bottle with members of the audience.The plot revolves around a love triangle of sorts between Johnny, his fiance Lisa, and his “best friend,” Mark. Throughout the movie you grow to root for Tommy’s character, who is way too nice for his own good. The audience also does not like Lisa at ALL, which was made clear from the start. Though set in San Fransisco, the movie barely ever leaves Johnny and Lisa’s apartment (does the name of the movie come from “the room” where the awkward sex scenes happen? we will never know for sure). There are several characters that are completely random and unnecessary as well as plot lines that are introduced and never resolved. Normally all of these inconsistencies would be something to criticize, but in this instance, they just make the movie all the more ridiculous and awesome. Just embrace it, people.
Despite the movie’s ridiculousness, what turned out to be the most entertaining part of the night was all of the rituals involved in watching the movie. It’s almost like playing a drinking game. After coming into the movie knowing nothing of the shouting and spoon throwing involved, we left well-versed in this pocket of culture.
Here I leave you with a brief list of some of the rituals involved in the full Tommy Wiseau experience (sounds like a good band name, eh??).
- “SPOON!!” – The most well known ritual involved is the hurling of plastic spoons at the screen. A majority of the artwork in the film involves spoons for some reason, so whenever one enters the shot (or Lisa does something stupid), it rains plastic cutlery.
- “Cancer!” – Lisa’s mother likes to give advice to her daughter which seemingly goes in one ear and out the other. We also learn, toward the beginning of the film, that Lisa’s mother has cancer and then never hear of it again. Whenever she enters the movie or touches Lisa on the nose, everyone screams “Cancer!!”
- “Go! Go! Go! Go!” – A chant used each time the camera pans over the Golden Gate Bridge during transitions. Shout for joy when it reaches the end, shout your disappointment when it doesn’t.
- Football – They sure like tossing around footballs in this movie. Whenever it happens on screen people run into the aisles and play catch themselves.
- Waving at Tommy – In the party scene there is a moment where it looks like Tommy is waving at someone in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. A few people run to the front and wave back at him. Everyone cheers.
- “Hi Denny! Bye Denny!” – Does Denny even go here? He just appears whenever he wants and randomly buys drugs in a totally unnecessary plot diversion. Shout your hellos and goodbyes each time he enters and exits.