The Room is a must-see Melbourne cinematic experience. Two cinemas are packed out at 11.30pm on a Saturday night and the audience is armed with plastic spoons. Beginning with a montage of dated ‘candy bar’ ads and images of frolicking puppies and kittens, the noise from the audience reaches a crescendo until the lights go down and a Cinema Nova employee exhorts everyone, in the words of The Room director Tommy Wiseau, “You can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself, but please don’t hurt each other.”
Late night audience participation during hammy movies is a joyous and riotous experience. You don’t go to sit silently, to hear the dialogue or follow the plot. Instead you are suddenly part of a community where laughter is constant and applause given for a well-timed heckle and for every unified exultant shouting of a classic line.
The Room has screened every month at the Cinema Nova since February 2010. Written, directed and starring Tommy Wiseau, it has all the hallmarks of a bad C-grade film – clunky dialogue, bad acting, laughable casting, formulaic cutaways, production errors, cheap sets and a cringe-worthy plot. It is a Grease 2 kind of movie. It is so bad that you can’t help admiring the audacity of Wiseau for persisting in making it. And there is something so endearing about Wiseau in his character of heartbroken romantic Johnny that you can’t help loving it. Buoyed along by a cinema full of people cheering, laughing, shouting and throwing spoons, it becomes, counter-intuitively, a celebration of cinema.
There is a plot but it’s not that important. Johnny is in love with his future wife Lisa (Juliette Danielle) but she is bored and begins an affair with Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero). Will Johnny find out? Will Denny (Philip Haldiman) ever finish school? Why doesn’t anyone shut the front door? Who is that guy at the party and what happened to Peter? Why is the film called The Room? If you want a cinematic experience like no other, come along to a late night screening, grab a program and bring some spoons. Your questions may or may not be answered.
Have you seen this film? How many times have you seen it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.