THE ROOM an Entertaining Experience at the Royal

by allan tong for FILMbutton

Watching Tommy Wiseau’s The Room for the first time with an audience is like a virgin entering a whorehouse on New Year’s Eve.

First off, the place is packed with folks wearing director/writer/producer/star Tommy Wiseau’s t-shirts, featuring his stringy black hair and grizzled face. The shirt and poster look like a horror film. So The Room is a horror flick, right? Not horror, but horrific.

Secondly, several women in the audience are wearing identical fire-engine red, come-fuck-me dresses and blonde wigs. Okay…

Tommy, Greg & 2 Lisa’s

The kicker comes the second the film unspools in the projector. The audience talks non-stop at the screen, parroting lines before characters speak them, castigating the movie’s endless stream of continuity gaffes, crappy green screen shots, bizarre set decorations and God-awful acting that would make Ed Wood barf in his grave, shrieking with laughter. That means, laughing at the movie and not because it is a comedy.

And the spoons… For some inexplicable reason, there’s a framed photo of a spoon prominently resting on a table in the living room which is the setting for most of the film. Whenever that photo appears, the crowd roars, “Spoon!” and hurls a shower of plastic spoons into the air which litter the aisles.

So, what is The Room about? It’s a 2003 melodrama about a love triangle gone awry in San Francisco. What it really is happens to be the sloppiest piece of filmmaking that was ever shat upon a movie screen. We’re not talking boom mikes in shots (which The Room has), but:

– characters who appear in the story for no reason then vanish also for no reason
– a scene in which one character threatens to toss another off a rooftop then inexplicably has a change of heart
– the leading lady whose throat bulges like a Louisana swamp frog when she speaks in one scene
– a supporting character who is either a naïve teenager or mentally handicapped adult
– sloppy overdubbing—and still the lines make no sense
– a love scene that is repeated shot-for-shot about 10 minutes after it is first screened

The crowning glory has to be the wretched acting. I can’t place Wiseau’s accent, but whenever he opened his mouth the audience screamed in laughter. And this is a drama, not a comedy.

Sold out Royal Cinema just before the screening of The Room and all the spoons!

In an age of inflated ticket prices when audiences are watching more movies on giant flatscreen HDTVs at home, The Room deserves credit for bringing them back to the cinema to enjoy the audience experience just like the good old days of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Watching The Room at home would be dull. The Room has to be experienced with an audience to enjoy how profoundly awful it is…and how much fun it was to be part of! Definitely worth the money.

Allan is a Toronto filmmaker, co-directing Leone Stars, a documentary about child victims of the Sierra Leonean civil war.

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