Wiseau’s The Room

The Last few years seems to have done well for eccentric writer/director/actor/auteur Tommy Wiseau. His first film, The Room seems to have achieved cult status and the biopic surrounding those events ( Based on the book written by co star/friend Greg Sestero) The Disaster Artist made some waves as well. I saw the disaster artist and it was enjoyable enough, and I had only seen clips of the Room up to that point and like everyone else, I was taken by the absurdity of it all . The whole  ” So -bad-its-good” sort of z movie genre always had an underdog appeal to it, as long as the heart was in the right place.

Take those Sharknado flicks. I cant stand them and I see no charm in their low quality because they’re intentionally made to be that way, the production itself actually goes through great pains to achieve that b movie appeal that it never does, and comes off as a bit pretentious, even condescending .

But I digress.  Around the time The Disaster Artist came out I was made aware of an opportunity to see The Room in the theatres that also featured Wiseau himself making an appearance there as well. Apparently seeing the movie in a theatre is a similar experience to what it was like seeing the Rocky Horror picture Show, to a much less extreme degree I found ( though Ive never seen Rocky Horror in a theater  from what ive seen and heard of the experience) So I couldn’t turn this down. The ticket wasn’t too expensive and it was opportunity to catch up with my cousin Mike and his kids ( hence also my cousins ) as they were into it and have done it before.

It was playing at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, that was over at 139 E Houston St. on the 16th or 17th of January, days before the local theatre closed its doors . It was a midnight showing and it was freezing out.  I met up with my cousins around 11:30 at a local bar and we walked over to quite a line. I had been told its an experience and people were very enthused despite the time and near or sub zero weather that night. Well we got in were gonna wait on a separate line to meet Tommy but decided against it and grabbed some popcorn. My cousin had asked if I had brought any plastic spoons with me , and I looked at her like she had three heads. I said no, and I was given a box and told I would need them. Maybe straws too but my memory is a little fuzzy.

Apparently in many of the scenes in The Room whenever theres a picture frame in the background it has the picture that came with the frame and no actual picture of anything really and most of them had spoons. So whenever it came on screen you were supposed to throw spoons and because the Room takes place in few few places , you threw spoons quite a bit, some people rather obnoxiously too.

We happened to walk in on tommy introducing the movie to the crowd. I took a quick pic and that’s what you see above, the picture of him. At that point someone was asking him about a secondary character , Danny (or Denny) and he answered something like ” Denny’s a retard” which had everyone off their seats laughing and cheering. Strange to see a guy like him sunglasses at midnight in a dark room doing his schtick, enjoying his fifteen. I give him credit , I have no clue who this guy is or how he did this, it just makes you think ,’if he can do it’…. he had a lot of love from the crowd and seemed genuinely moved by it, even if for unintended reasons.

It was a hoot. The movie? Horrible.  Worse because in all reality, aside the silly overlong sex scenes with cheesy music ( that some people sang to)& bellybutton humping and all, and the various clips of Tommy hamming it up (repreated and rerepeated over and over on youtube and slicky imitated by James Franco in the disaster aritist) its biggest crime is not that those scenes lack charm or have those ‘ ha!’ moments, its everything else that leads to those scenes. They’re boring. The movie for all of its famous scenes of unintentional camp cannot save itself from the film as a whole. For every scene Tommy steals or whatever dramatic bits that fail -but-are-fun arrive, there’s a lot of just scenes of nothing really going on. I cant recommend seeing this on video or youtube at all. Its just not a good movie, even as kitsch. If you’ve never seen it , stick to the funny moments on youtube vids and you’ll generally get the gist of it.

That said, its a very good social experience to go and see in a theatre with the fan base , even if you only do it one time. Aside a few obnoxious people ( that almost got the fuck punched out of them) who were a little overzealous with their spoons, it was actually still a lot of fun to go see. There were people who genuinely in love with this , reciting lines on queue, singing , pointing out certain flaws and really interacting with the experience. The environment was very welcoming , the guy sitting next to me was even kind enough to give me one of those small bottles of vodka ( which kept me warm going back to Penn Station and home) before the movie started. It was what I imagined a less extreme version of Rocky Horror might be like too. If there is any way The Room is worth seeing it this is the way. If not, see The Disaster Artist. It’s based off Sestero’s book chronicling his experience making this flick and the weird aura of Wiseau’s persona, as well as his mysterious shady past. Its very affectionately done, kind of reminds me of the intended effect of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood back in 1994.

It was also worthwhile because I got to see my cousins , who I don’t see as often as I should. I understand that the whole b movie subculture is like this too. I’ve seen Troll 2 on Netflix years ago ( now that’s not just a bad movie, it made me question the sanity of those who made it as well as mine for sitting through it. It deserves its own blog post.) , and there’s a great documentary made by one of the actors , Best Worst Movie, I highly recommend that’s about the whole fan subculture and how these terrible flicks become popular.

It’s asked time and again, why do we like and indulge in bad movies? I think it becomes unintentional comedy to some degree, and if its made with heart its a  gentle reminder that all our plans often do not turn out as intended. For Wiseau, even though it took years,  it appears it was all for the better.

My cousins and myself , right after the movie. Good times.

Citizen G

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