Thursday, September 3, 2009

"The Room": this one has a view of a spoon

I first learned of Tommy Wiseau while watching an exceptionally strange episode of "Tim and Eric: Awesome Show Great Job!" [excerpts here]. Anyone familiar with the Adult Swim show knows that in of itself is a mouthful, as the show is a parade of bizarre hit and miss non-sequitors; to say an episode is exceptionally strange is akin to saying Kate Gosselin is exceptionally crazy or the Backstreet Boys are exceptionally gay.

This particular episode of Tim and Eric centered around Tommy, who has the strangest unidentifiable accent you've ever heard, directing a skit with his signature touch. To get an idea of his signature touch, I direct you to a scene from "The Room" wherein Johnny, played by Tommy, buys his ungrateful girlfriend some flowers.

Did your brain just melt like a marshmallow peep in a microwave?

Last Saturday, I saw "The Room" for the first time on a last-minute impulse with a few friends at a midnight screening at Chicago's Music Box theater. Much like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" or LA screenings of "The Big Lebowski", viewing "The Room" requires audience participation. When you go, and you should, bring some spoons.

The real beauty of watching "The Room" is not relishing in the horrible writing, acting, and directing. The absurd misogynistic plot, about an angel of a guy who does nothing but dote on his girlfriend Lisa when he's not busy paying rent and tuition for Denny upstairs or playing football with his psychologist Peter and buddy Mark who begins to cheat with Lisa when she gets bored with Johnny, takes a back seat to the fevered audience participation.

Whether it's shouting salutations to the awkward third wheel Denny, rooting for tracking shots across the Golden Gate Bridge (it's set in San Francisco!), or throwing spoons at the screen every time a framed picture of a spoon is visible on a side table (this happens A LOT), the sense of community that comes from watching an affront to celluloid is cathartic.

The catharsis is not so much the dark joy that comes with watching an utter failure in every cinematic sense, rather, "The Room" takes you to a deeper place. The betrayal unjustly served to Johnny from seemingly every angle, and his bizarre take on how people interact, are indicative of not only someone who has suffered great heartache, but more importantly, of someone who hasn't the slightest idea how human beings interact. I have never known someone to creepily laugh at any opportunity. Never have I brushed off a friend who told me and a girlfriend they like to watch. I have never casually played football with my friends and psychologist while wearing tuxedos.

To watch "The Room" is as close to experiencing "It's A Wonderful Life" as most of us will ever get. "The Room" reminds us that no matter what the shortcomings of our lives are, we are blessed. We are not Johnny, doomed to be taken advantage of by those he cares for most. And, more importantly, we are not Tommy, who will forever be defined by the uncanny success of his colossal personal and professional failings.

TOO MUCH: Tommy Wiseau's naked pulsating ass cheeks thrusting into his costar's hip

COULD HAVE USED MORE: spoons, apple metaphors

FILM SNOB NOTE: Part of the cult success of "The Room" is owed to Ed Wood's infamous "Plan 9 From Outer Space", the sci-fi catastrophe that starred Wood's chiropractor as Bela Lugosi

IHYFM RATING: This doesn't even register on the MEH scale. A solid FIVE out of FIVE WTF's.

IF YOU SAID THIS WAS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE, I'D THINK: you're a hipster that knows how to use a spoon.

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