A few weeks ago a friend called me up as excited as a little kid on a cotton candy line. He had incredible news, life-altering news. He said he watched a movie called The Room. I told him I never heard of it. He wasn't surprised, but I had to come over and watch it. And so it was that I found myself on the following Friday at my good friend Johnny Valentine's place, a six-pack of Yuengling in hand. Like Neo following the white rabbit, my curiosity took over. What's the deal with this movie? Some people get calls from their agents letting them know Paramount and 20th Century Fox are in a bidding war for their script. Some people get calls from Publisher's Clearing House. I got a call from Johnny V. to watch The Room.
Another buddy, Garret, was invited as well. Me, Johnny V., and Garret: you don't forget the people you go to war with. You never forget the people you win a state championship with. And I will never forget anyone who sat in that room that night and experienced what I experienced. We were witnesses.
Johnny V. announced we'd watch the movie while playing a drinking game. "Well,
OK..." I said. "What are the rules?" He began listing a series of instances where we'd be obligated to throw 'em down. I didn't completely understand what he was talking about, but I went with it. The rules were:
1. Every time you see a gratuitous shot of San Francisco, drink.
2. Every time the mother touches her daughter's nose, drink.
3. Every time someone refers to someone else by their first name, drink (i.e. "Oh, hi Mark"; "Hi, Denny"; "Hi, Lisa"; etc.).
4. Every time there is an awkward guys-tossing-a-football-five-feet-away-from-each-other-scene, drink.
5. Every time there is a rooftop scene, drink.
6. Every time you see a spoon in a picture frame, drink.
7. Every time the film's immortal star, Tommy Wiseau, does his trademark awkward laugh, drink.
8. Every time someone says, "You're too much," drink.
9. Every time Mark says, "What's going on?" or "What are you doing?", drink.
10. Every time someone talks about how beautiful Lisa is, drink.
11. Every time someone talks about what a great guy Tommy Wiseau's character (Johnny) is, drink.
12. Every time someone shows up on-screen and leaves the stench of a completely useless, unnecessary scene in their wake, drink.
Truth be told, had I known what was in store, I probably would have recommended we cut the list of initiators by half (at least), but you know what they say about hindsight. By the time the movie was over, I was crawling out of the place like a slug, barely conscious of what hit me. I awoke the next morning, cheeks hurting from laughter. My head hurt either from my hangover or from constant laughter or both. But there was something else ... adrenaline. Some people get hooked on ecstasy, I got hooked on The Room.
I'm not going to sit here and talk too much about what The Room is, mainly because I'm so late to the party, but also because greater men than me, like Brickyard Jimmy, already nailed what The Room is better than I ever could have. There's simply too much to cover, from the obnoxiously oblivious, backstabbing Mark to the devious and inexplicably evil Lisa to the creepy weirdo kid, Denny. And that's not even delving into the main course. But the short of it is this: it's an epically bad movie on a scale I'm betting most of you out there have never experienced. No matter how bad you hear it is, nothing can prepare you for its greatness. Yes, this is a movie so amazingly awful -- a film that goes through great pain to make sure it fails at every conceivable level ... that it actually attains its own peculiar place of grandiose entertainment. It is without irony, I promise you, that I tell you The Room is my favorite movie I've seen this year. Because I really do truly love this movie. There is something so damn endearing about the movie I can't really put my finger on; but I do know the source of it stems from the man who wrote, directed, produced, self-financed, and -- God love him -- starred in this miracle of a movie, the main course, Mr. Tommy Wiseau.
Nothing can prepare you for Wiseau in all his glory. You can't prepare yourself for Wiseau any more than you can prepare yourself for Christopher Walken. They are one-of-a-kinds. On the surface Wiseau's film is just a really bad piece of melodrama by way of a love triangle. But you won't have to look too deep to see the historic collapse in editing, writing, directing, sound effects, set design, and -- oh yes, acting.
And you know what? I feel a little dirty even having to talk about it because I find myself in the astonishing position of wanting to defend this movie. I don't know where Wiseau got the money to make this movie, but he scored six million bucks from somewhere. I don't know if he had to knock off a third-world dictator or bust out some diamonds from a mall in Dubai. All I know is the results; he fought and he battled for 12 years and he made his movie, damnit. Everything he had -- his heart and soul and passion, his blood and his tears (literally) -- went into the making of this thing. He believed in his movie and succeeded in getting it made. So many people talk about making a movie, but how many of us who mock people like Wiseau ever actually do it?
So yes, I love this movie for all its terribleness; for everything it is and everything it tried to be. I love that Wiseau, after the heartbreak that must have come when all those negative reviews came pouring out in 2003, now has a large and passionate fan base. And I love how Wiseau has embraced the fans and the film's midnight movie cult status. People straight up love his movie (among celebrity fans you can include David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Paul Rudd, and Kristen Bell).
A couple days after witnessing it for the first time, I told Johnny V. that we should have another viewing. I called my brother up and he was game. Valentine got our friends Justin and Ashley for this second screening. We swore an oath we would have at least one viewing a month with the hopes that our church would grow and grow. In New York and L.A. there are monthly midnight screenings of The Room. AICN's Capone recently caught one in Chicago. Like a California wildfire, the legend of Wiseau spreads.
I called up my friend, the great J. Good, who lives up in N.Y.C., and told him about the movie -- about seven YouTube clips later, he was hooked. He's going to catch a screening of it later this month. You see, once you watch this movie, there is a very real need to spread the word. I am not a religious man, but I now understand what it feels like to be a witness. And so even though I came aboard late and this is not a very fashionable alert, I must do my part and help get the word out.
For my second viewing we made sure we stocked up securely on beers. I felt a rush come over me before the movie started, knowing how much my little brother was going to enjoy himself. I remembered the first time I made him watch Star Wars. This felt like that. Like the great Yogi Berra said, it was like déjà vu all over again. I fell further down the rabbit hole. I'm still falling, hopelessly in love with The Room. Get thee to a screening.
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Dre writes for Film.com weekly.