06 May 2010

Things I'm Currently Obsessed With - THE ROOM

by guest columnist Michael Wendt.  Follow him on Twitter.

For the past decade or so one thing has remained a constant every Friday, I get the new issue of Entertainment Weekly in my mailbox. On one particular Friday in December of 2008, EW had a lengthy yet entertaining article about a movie entitled THE ROOM, a film that was virtually ignored upon its initial release and received several scathing reviews, but now had become the hottest midnight movie in Los Angeles. The article told of several celebrities such as David Cross, Jonah Hill, and Kristen Bell are known to frequent the sold-out screenings to the film, which are also attended regularly by cast and crew members from the movie.

Needless to say the article got my attention. It must have gotten the attention of many other independent theatres because soon I was reading of Room screenings all over, including one in the Cleveland area. Shortly before watching the film, I decided to view the trailer and to be honest it gave me mixed feelings about it. The trailer gives quotes such as “A film with the passion of Tennessee Williams” and “It’s a riot!”, and my personal favorite “The best movie of the year!” It shows people arguing and yelling and it didn’t seem to be a “comedy” as they were claiming, so I personally wasn’t sure what to expect. I couldn’t convince anyone to go with me the first time, I mean why pay money for a movie that one person said was the “CITIZEN KANE of bad movies”? However, not too long into my first viewing of THE ROOM, I quickly understood why people go to see the movie time and time again.

The movie is an absolute train wreck on so many levels; it features amateurish acting, pedestrian dialog, and sub-par camera work (that often in screenings causes people to yell “FOCUS!”). But despite all of its flaws, THE ROOM is one of the most entertaining experiences one could hope to have at the movies. It causes one to howl with laughter, and encourages audience participation that includes yelling certain lines, singing along with the cheesy music, and throwing spoons (I’ll explain that later).

 The movie’s “plot” or lack there of for those unfamiliar with it tells the story of Johnny (played by actor, writer, producer, director Tommy Wiseau) and the people in his life, most specifically his fiancée Lisa. Lisa, who doesn’t really seem to do anything but sit in the apartment all day, is attracted to Johnny’s best friend Mark(the point they are best friends is stated several times). Denny, is a college student for whom Johnny has taken in as a father figure and pays his rent and schooling, Denny appears to be immature for his age. The last main character is Claudette, Lisa’s overbearing mother who has a cynical outlook on relationships and insists Lisa stay with Johnny cause he provides for her, and she may not have security if she leaves him, to which audience members at screenings yell, “Cause you’re a woman!”

The plot isn’t the important part when watching THE ROOM; it’s the dialog that I love the most. First off, when ever someone sees each other, they always have a surprised look or a surprised expression for example check out this montage...

Sometimes sub-plots are introduced and then never mentioned again, such as Claudette telling Lisa that she “definitely has breast cancer” and it never comes up again, also Denny at one point is confronted after his run in with a drug dealer and yep never mentioned again.

There is a scene later in which Johnny and Lisa get drunk and the next day Lisa accuses Johnny of hitting her which leads to some of the most laugh inducing scenes

Yes it gets better, there are several lengthy awkward sex scenes involving Johnny, Lisa, and Mark (not all together). Now I will spare you those videos but the great part about those scenes is the music that accompanies them, songs such as “You’re My Rose”, “Baby You and Me”, and “Crazy” sound like they are straight out of a cheesy 80s romance. I couldn’t find good videos of those but I suggest seeking them out as those songs were sadly left off the Oscar short list that year.

The other thing that I enjoy when viewing THE ROOM is to throw plastic spoons at the screen. The reason for that is there are a couple scenes in which we see framed artwork. For reasons unexplained, one of the pictures is of a spoon. So when you see it, you yell “Spoon!” and then throw the spoons. It happens often so if you plan on seeing it I suggest getting a economy size pack, and pick them up after the screening so you can save them for next time.

But then the grand finale of the movie, and where it might get its “CITIZEN KANE of bad movies” rap is from this scene after Johnny finds out Lisa is leaving him for Mark.

Orson Welles would have been proud right? Well this is just a taste of what to expect when watching THE ROOM. To date I have seen it on the big screen 8 times and that in my opinion is the best way to view the film. Yes I’m sure you could instant watch on Netflix or rent it but if you do make sure you do it with a few friends because watching it alone wouldn’t have the same effect.

It is up for debate whether this movie was purposely made bad or if it was a movie that intended to be a serious drama that just so happens to be funny (Wiseau insists that it was intentionally funny, some cast members insist the opposite), but the movie has obviously made its mark on pop culture and appears it will be playing in theaters everywhere for a long time.

For a listing of areas where The Room is playing near your city or town visit theroommovie.com 

Michael Wendt is a Cleveland-based Actor, Producer, and Director.  His recent works include the documentary The End of the World As We Knew It which has played at several Film Festivals, as well as acting in the romantic comedy The Bride & The Grooms which had a limited release around the country last year. When not working on film projects, you can probably find him frequenting the movie theater or hitting a karaoke bar!


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