Thursday, January 28, 2010

Review: The Room

The Room
Dir. Tommy Wiseau
Year: 2003
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 99mins

Yesterday I had what I think I can say was the greatest cinematic experience of my life. Granted, I’ve only been alive for a quarter of a century and have made the cinema my second home for only half of that time, but last night was without a doubt a truly mind-blowing experience that I will not forget any time soon. I don’t think it’s making too much of a leap to say that Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is anything short of one of the very worst movies ever made in the history of cinema, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make for one hell of a cinema going treat.

The Room follows the love triangle between three people who are also best friends and all live in the same apartment complex. It’s like Friends, but without the pretty hair and the sarcastic comebacks and “Smelly Cat”. Not to put too fine a point on it, but The Room is trash. Garbage, pure and simple. Horrendously written, acted even worse, shamelessly narcissistic and flat out ugly, and yet it is these very qualities that makes paying for a ticket and witnessing it all the more entertaining.

Last night I did indeed have the pleasure of attending a special advance preview screening – seven years after its release in the US I should add, which says a lot – of The Room before it begins an exclusive limited late-night run on Saturday nights throughout February at the Cinema Nova in Carlton. We had the added extra of having a Tommy Wiseau fan club in the audience, which certainly helped the crowd relax enough to openly mock this disastrous movie. I can’t speak for everyone, but the majority of the audience was certainly getting into the spirit of the event and only the dullest fuddy-duddy could sit there without laughing at the events transpiring on screen.

All part of the “event” of seeing The Room on the big screen was there. Partaking in cult rituals such as throwing spoons at the screen whenever a piece of spoon-related artwork appears, yelling “CANCER!” whenever the cancer-stricken (yet only once mentioned and in a hilarious nonchalant manner) mother appears on screen, chanting during panning shots of the Golden Gate Bridge and cheering when it reaches the other end (or expressing vocal disappointment when it does not), openly expressing one’s outright disgust at the many sex scenes, openly pointing out continuity flaws (a character is played by two completely different actors), bizarre lapses in logic (the engaged lead character never say the word “fiancĂ©”, only “future wife” or “future husband”!?), strange nonsequitors (the aforementioned cancer, or the drug debt that the mildly-retarded Denny character finds himself in) or just howling with laughter at the sheer badness of the movie’s structure, special effects and original songs.

By the end of the 100 minutes that The Room somehow takes to tell its ridiculous story my voice was hoarse, tears had formed in my eyes many times and I had run out of plastic spoons less than half of the way through. John "Outland Institute" Richard and I had a riot. Openly bantering between one another, normally scornful, but here it just adds to the experience. Wanting to hear what other people are saying is part of the fun, realising that you noticed the same strange quirk as others - what was with all those GIANT candles?

The Room is not a movie you can sit down and watch by yourself on DVD. If you don't have the chance to witness it in all of its glory on a cinema screen then gather some friends, pop open a few (or ten) beers and let the experience be had. I can only hope that someday I get to watch movies like Showgirls or Jack Frost on the big screen with an equally appreciative audience. Nothing can quite replicate the experience of The Room, it's truly one-of-a-kind. As a film? F! As a cinema-going experience? A+

I would just like to add that The Room is a perfect example of my argument that you can't create a cult movie. A cult movie needs to be organic and grow out of a filmmaker legitimately thinking they are making a good movie. The Room didn't start out as a cinematic punching bag, but that's how it ended up. However, I can guarantee that there was even the slightest hint of Wiseau or his cast being in on the joke that it wouldn't be funny.


Bradley Dixon said...

Wow, coincidentally I happened to watch this for the first time yesterday after hearing about it on the internet for months. I can't wait to see it in a theatre with other "fans".

Joel said...

I spread this film around my university and it went nuts! We're all going in a couple of weeks time, should be amazing!

Simon said...

Where do people have these things? The only theatre near me that could have it is much too serious. Lucky bastard.

Also, I'm going to disagree. You can watch it alone, and it's almost as good as with other people. Like masturbating.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, thanks for your interest in THE ROOM. It's screening at Cinema Nova (Carlton) in Melbourne from Saturday Feb 6 tickets on sale now:

Lloyd said...

I was the extremely loud idiot at the media screening (you're welcome) and let me assure you that we will all be at the subsequent screenings. I cannot fully convey how vital it is that you all come to this!