What does it take to be called the "Citizen Kane of bad movies"?A few weeks back, after years of procrastination, I finally saw Tommy Wiseau's now-classic midnight movie 'The Room.' At this point, you have either never heard of it or have seen the film more than 20 times. To bring those in the former category up to speed, in 2002, Wiseau was an aspiring filmmaker whose bank account far exceeded his filmmaking ability. But he was persistent: writing, directing, producing and starring in his debut feature 'The Room.'
Ostensibly a love triangle drama between Johnny (Wiseau), his girlfriend Lisa (Juliette Danielle) and his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero), 'The Room' is a film school study in how not to make a movie. Subplots are brought up and never referred to again. Seemingly important characters are either never introduced or disappear with no explanation. A green screen is used for rooftop shots instead of an actual roof (was it that hard to find a roof?). Shots go in and out of focus haphazardly. The dialogue is hackneyed and oftentimes unintelligible. And the acting? Well ... God bless YouTube.
Wiseau self-distributed 'The Room' in 2003 with a two-week run in Los Angeles. Critics tripped over themselves lambasting the effort -- difficult when you consider mere words can't convey the ridiculousness of nearly every aspect of the film -- but Wiseau's film would eventually spread throughout the comedy community, with David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Tim & Eric and Paul Rudd all professing their ironic love for the movie.
The film has since become a cult classic and participatory experience not seen since 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show.' It sold out the fabled Ziegfeld Theatre in New York earlier this year, has inspired parodies and drinking games and still plays to sold-out houses around the country.
Part of the fun of seeing 'The Room' for the first time is not knowing what to expect. But for the curious, we've put together this definitive guide for 'Room' newbies.
First, here's the trailer in all its awfulness.
Know when to yell ...
The folowing video exemplifies what you're in for when checking out 'The Room' in a movie theater. You should watch it on DVD first, just to pick up on everything going on. Note the laughter after the first two words. It only gets louder.
... and when to shut up
This is the "Flower Shop" scene. Study it. Memorize it. Watch the way the actors deliver their lines as if they only had 10 seconds to say 30 seconds worth of dialogue. Resume yelling upon scene completion. This is classic Method Acting if the method is to pretend you have never acted before in your life.
Bring plastic spoons. Lots and lots of spoons.
Johnny and Lisa's apartment is adorned with numerous generic pictures, yet arguably the strangest is a framed photo of a spoon. Maybe there's a complex backstory involving Johnny's psychological motivations and a spoon, but Wiseau presumably just bought the cheapest frames he could find and kept the stock photo. Regardless, every time the spoon photo is shown, prepare to see hundreds of real-life spoons fly past you.
Know the film's most iconic line
If there's one line that has become the film's "I'll make him an offer he can't refuse," it's "You're tearing me apart, Lisa!" said so emphatically and defiantly you almost feel sorry for Johnny. Almost. No matter what screening you attend, this will get the biggest reaction of the night (short of an actual Tommy Wiseau appearance).
Bring roses (video slightly NSFW)
'The Room' is not without the requisite sex scenes and its awkward filming, lack of chemistry and what-am-I-listening-to soundtrack make it as erotic as a family reunion. I still unfortunately had the refrain of "You Are My Rose" in my head for days. Warning: there are numerous sex scenes and they are long. Very long. And not slow, romantic buildup long. Just "When is this going to end?" long. Though we'll give credit to Wiseau for re-editing the first love scene and passing it off as a different one later in the film. Really.
Root for the Golden Gate Bridge
Wiseau had an idea: To establish each scene, why not have a tracking shot of the Golden Gate Bridge to remind you that we're still in San Francisco? Now repeat about 12 or so times. What works once becomes a race to get to the other side of the bridge every time after.
Be ready for the football
Footballs are constantly thrown in the film for reasons that remain unexplained. At the screening I attended, the theater repeatedly morphed into a field, with footballs, both inflatable and real, lofted indiscriminately in the air. Watch your back is all I'm saying.
Dress in a wig and speak with a bad accent of indeterminate origin
Wiseau has been notoriously cagey on where he's from, but the long, stringy hair and European accent have helped make him a cult icon and inspire legions of imitators, including David Cross.
Congratulations. You're now an instant expert on one of the worst films of all time. "Preparing to see 'The Room' means forgetting everything you know about going to the movies," says Jason Cuadrado, devoted fan and creator of TheRoomStuff, a Web site that sells Talking Johnny Bobble Head dolls. "You have to abandon the notion of sitting there quietly. It truly is an experience of participation. Don't be shy. The more your participate, the more fun it is. Viewing after viewing, the film is always the same and for many, 'The Room' is the worst of the worst. It's what you bring to it that makes it so much fun."
Still, no words can beat the actual experience. You know what to do. Hi doggy.
List of Upcoming Screenings
Dec. 10 - Cine Theater, Athens, GA
Dec. 10 - Cinema 21, Portland, OR
Dec. 11 - Drexel Theater, Columbus, OH
Dec. 11 - Landmark's Esquire, Denver, CO
Dec. 11 - Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA
Dec. 17 - Village East Cinema, New York, NY
Dec. 18 - Landmark's Piedmont Theater, Oakland, CA
Jan. 7-8 - Inwood Theatre, Dallas, TX
Jan. 8 - Screenland Theater, Kansas City, MO
Jan. 14-15 - Landmark's River Oaks, Houston TX
Jan. 19 - Knox College, Galesburg, IL
Jan. 28-29 - E. Street Cinema, Washington, DC
Feb. 11 - The Art Theater, Champaign, IL
Feb. 12 - Boxter/APEX Theatres, Louisville, KY
Check out the film's screening list to see if it's playing in your city.