5 Reasons To Go To A Screening Of The Room

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The best time I’ve ever had at a movie was the first time I went to a midnight screening of The Room.

If you’re unfamiliar with the movie, you’re not alone. After being released in two Los Angeles theaters in 2003, the film has taken on a completely new identity by being shown in the midnight circuits in various cities across the United States and Canada. It has become this generation’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, drawing audiences who hear about it through word of mouth circulation, attracting an interactive experience that invites the audience to participate in the show. While Rocky Horror has had decades to formalize the etiquette and script and shadow casting protocols, The Room feels like a blossoming secret.

And it’s hard to explain the extent to which this movie is outrageous. There was a time when I thought I would never see a movie worse than Battlefield Earth. But The Room is even more ineptly made, thematically absurd, and full of utterly head-scratching moments. If movies can be quantitatively measured by the time a viewer spends facepalming in disbelief and bafflement, The Room surely must earn the highest score in history.

Whether you’ve experienced it yet or not, here are 5 reasons that make The Room worth seeing every month.

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1) It’s one of the funniest movies of all time

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It’s pretty much a certainty that the laughs drawn by the bizarre dialogue and plot elements and awkwardly long sex scenes are unintended. I think if it seemed in any way deliberate it would be infinitely less funny. Whether it’s characters dressed randomly in tuxedos, characters inexplicably tossing a football around, or characters tossing a football around while dressed in tuxedos, there are too many little details that pop up throughout the movie to list, and they’re too visually mindboggling to do them justice in print.

And of course the absurdity of the material on the screen is just the tip of the iceberg when you watch The Room. With prepared scripts online that people draw from, as well as plenty of improvised additions at every screening, people in attendance generally inspire as many laughs as the movie does on its own. But it all begins with the movie, a bizarre tale of Johnny, whose fiancée Lisa seduces his best friend Mark, claims Johnny physically abused her, and then lies that she’s pregnant, just, in her words, “to make things interesting.” The entire movie has the oddest conception of what is “interesting” or a “great story.” And the reason for this seems to be the fascinating brain behind it all, Tommy Wiseau.

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2) It will introduce you to the strange enigma that is Tommy Wiseau

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Tommy Wiseau is the director of The Room. He is the star of The Room. He also produced, wrote, and probably did just about everything that needed to be done to ensure this movie got made (except for the cinematography. That was the work of Todd Barron. F*** you, Todd Barron!). It feels like we’ll never run out of new strange details that people continually discover about Mr. Wiseau. The tidbits of information regarding just the making of the movie are ridiculous on their own: he shot the movie on film and video, he won’t say where he got the $6 million to make it, and a large number of cast and crew members left the project and had to be replaced.

He does not explain why he has an exotic-sounding accent. He says only that he is American. The opening scenes of the movie are about 75% him having sex, and yes, you see a lot of him. The image of his bare torso will sear itself into your brain. The entire movie revolves around everyone remarking on how good a guy his character Johnny is, and how everyone, especially his fiancée Lisa and best friend Mark, is horrible to him. But for people like me, laughing at how insane everything about him is only the start of the fascination. Like characters such as Ricky Gervais’ friend Karl Pilkington, he possesses an oddness that is tremendously captivating, and we just want to know more and more about him, even though the more we know, the less we understand. Urban Outfitters understands the power of the mystery of Tommy Wiseau well.

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3) You will repeat its classic lines over and over

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The best-known line from the movie is screamed by Wiseau himself: “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” But there are gems throughout, many of which working just as well out of context as they play in the context of the movie. You will greet your friends with “Oh, hi (friend’s name)!” or perhaps the non-sequitur, “So anyway, how’s your sex life?” Any time you’ll see someone holding an awkward facial expression you’ll shout “Still coming!!” You will respond to any female friend’s statement with “Because you’re a woman!” and a male’s with “Because you’re a man!”

One of the purest joys in seeing The Room with other people is the feeling of communal fun, with anyone welcome to contribute jokes or additions to the movie’s actual dialogue. But then this also extends outside the theater, like any good comedy, where you can reminisce about the most outrageous lines with friends for weeks to come.

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4) Interacting with a movie is refreshing

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A viewer’s relationship with most movies is almost exclusively one-sided, with the sounds and images from the screen leaving an impression on the viewer, and the viewer passively accepting these impressions. An interactive movie experience like a midnight screening of The Room or Rocky Horror Picture Show or other cult classics gives the theater event a whole new identity, and the audience transforms from passive observers to major players in the story and comedic contributors to the film’s soundtrack.

This is a new way of having a relationship with a screen, and has the potential to give a viewer a new appreciation for the act of increasing his or her level of engagement with screen-based storytelling to the point of participating almost involuntarily in the world of a movie. One of the reasons we like to watch movies with an audience is this interactive aspect, feeding off the energy produced by intense silence, raucous laughter or audible gasps. Seeing The Room takes the pent up feelings of wanting to speak back to the flat images on a screen and accommodates the cathartic moment where this dialogue is not only possible but encouraged.

Or at the very least, loudly making fun of a terrible movie is a lot of fun to do in an environment where such behavior is welcomed rather than scorned.

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5) The more you go, the better it gets

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I wouldn’t necessarily encourage people to familiarize themselves too much with the movie and its recommended additional dialogue before they go to their first screening, other than to get a general sense of what you’re in for (i.e. make sure to bring along a box of plastic spoons, and a football if your theater allows it). But the more familiar you become, the deeper down the wormhole of The Room you get. And the more you can contribute to the mayhem of people shouting comments at the screen. You can tell who in the theater are the real veterans, folks who know what’s coming, the perfect moment to spring the line they surely had been practicing at home for the month since the last screening they went to.

I’ve seen it about 5 or 6 times now, and it continues to be nearly as shockingly hilarious and confoundingly terrible each time. It’s hard to get used to seeing something like The Room and not think “How on earth does this even exist? How is this a movie that actually got made in real life?” The answer is there is no reason. It exists because literally anyone can make a movie if they’re determined enough. And it’s why everyone who loves movies should watch it; you get an even broader picture of what movies are capable of, or at least an example of ways they should absolutely not be made. There’s no method to The Room, only madness.

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  • Matt Donato

    The “Hi Doggy” scene is one of my favorite scenes in cinema. My friend bought The Room on DVD from Tommy’s website or whatever, and the promo was he’ll sign it and write a message. My friend wrote “Just put your favorite quote,” so of course he signed it “Hi Doggy! – Tommy Wiseau”

    • Christian Law

      You’re my favorite customer!