From the very moment the end credits to Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” rolled across my TV screen, I knew I had to see a live screening of the movie. If I could, I wanted to meet Tommy Wiseau, the mastermind behind such a train wreck of a film, in the flesh. My coworker/BFF Dan and I had reviewed the film for our weekly FlipSide post, “Screen Jeers,” but I wanted more from “The Room.”
It’s difficult to concisely articulate what “The Room” experience is. The film was made in 2003, directed, written, produced and starring Tommy Wiseau. It was originally supposed to be a drama about a wealthy banker whose fiancee cheats on him with his best friend. But after receiving poor reviews, Wiseau decided to label the film a “black comedy.”
Everything about the film is terrible. The dialogue and acting is awkward and disjointed. The green-screen effects and cinematics are poorly done. The themes are heavy-handed. Minor story arcs go nowhere. The sex scenes are way too long.
As a result, “The Room” almost instantly achieved cult status. It’s similar to what I’ve heard a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is like, where people dress up in costume, yell at the screen and throw things.
Dan found a screening of “The Room” at the E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C (YAY DAN!) I would have been happy donning a red dress* and packing my purse full of plastic spoons** just to see the movie. But the screening in D.C. was accompanied by an appearance by Wiseau himself, along with his costar, Greg Sestero. Bonus!
My husband, Mike, came along for the adventure because he, too, is a “Room” fan and really wanted to meet Wiseau (mainly to ask him if he could be in his next movie.)
The three of us enjoyed some pizza*** at District of Pi on F Street, then made our way to the theater. Wiseau and Sestero were already there, signing T-shirts and DVD cases. Tommy Wiseau was a little eccentric, and Greg Sestero seemed like a pretty cool, down-to-earth guy in the two minutes we spent meeting them. Mike and I got signed T-shirts and Dan got a signed copy of the DVD.
The experience watching “The Room” in a theater full of yelling, spoon-wielding “Room” fans was super fun. I noticed little things about the movie that I didn’t notice before, while I was watching it on my own. Unfortunately, no one in the theater brought a football****, but veteran “Room” viewers ran around the theater, pretending to throw one anyway.
I had a blast at my first cult film screening and have great plans to go see “The Room” again with Dan in September in Pittsburgh. It would be awesome to go see other cult films in indie theaters, such as “Rocky Horror” or “Birdemic: Shock and Terror.” But “The Room” will always have a special place in my heart.
What cult films do you enjoy? Have you ever gone to a movie theater in costume?
*In one of the first scenes of the movie, Johnny, played by Wiseau, gives his girlfriend, Lisa, a red dress. If you’re a hardcore “Room” fan (and also a lady) you wear a red dress to screenings. Men wear tuxes, sloppily assembled suit-and-tie combinations or tux T-shirts as a tribute to Johnny and the other male characters in the film. There were a few at our screening who were in costume, but most just wore normal clothes.
**Throughout the film, the characters pass in front of a table with framed pictures of cutlery, one very obviously being a framed picture of a spoon. Whenever the framed spoon comes into the shot, “Room” fans yell “SPOONS! SPOONS!” and throw plastic spoons at the screen.
***In the film, Lisa orders a pizza over the phone, which is half canadian-bacon-and-pineapple and half pesto-and-artichoke. We tried to order the same thing at District of Pi, but they were out of pineapple. They have delicious pizza, nonetheless. I would highly recommend it.
****Johnny and Mark (Greg Sestero) play football constantly in the film. Sometimes with other characters. Sometimes in an alleyway in a tux, standing 3 feet apart.