by Jenni Wright
I’m not a midnight movie person. My ability to stay alert and focused diminishes quickly after 10pm, especially if I’m sitting down. The last time I saw a midnight movie, I was in my 20s and my best friends from high school convinced me to see the opening of Lord of the Rings: Two Towers. I fought off the urge to sleep through screaming and reflexively digging my fingers into my friend’s arms. By the way, I’m kind of terrified of Orcs.
Last month I got an invite to see a midnight screening of “The Room” with little to no explanations for what it would entail other than suggestions to bring plastic spoons and maybe purchase a tuxedo. Cryptic invitations from friends you haven’t heard from in a while? You literally can’t turn that down. And then after I accepted the invitation, I found out I had signed up to watch arguably the worst movie ever made by a man (Tommy Wiseau) who won’t answer direct questions about his country of origin. Made in 2003, The Room was produced on a $6 million budget and billed as a romantic drama. It panned at the box office because it was, well, terrible. But shortly after it bombed it was embraced by people who actually had success in Hollywood, seeing it as the best example of “what not to do.” The midnight viewing of The Room is part of the underground fabric of Los Angeles, where dreaming of overnight success in the movie industry seems rational and mocking those dreams is cool. In preparation I downed a few adult beverages at Barney’s on the UCLA campus and headed to the movie with plastic spoons in tow. This is what you should know about seeing “The Room:”
1) The first thing you will be struck with is an actual plastic spoon. If you’re not paying attention a grenade of plastic will hit you in the face randomly as the movie goes on. It’s ultimately not that important to bring your own spoons because of the number that will be thrown at you. Just watch for the picture of a spoon in the apartment set and protect your cornea.
2) The second (mental) thing you will be struck with is how uncomfortable you will feel watching Tommy Wiseau in a sex scene. The first 10 seconds of it will register in your brain as late night Cinemax material and then the next 5 minutes will go on and you will find yourself feeling about as unsexual as you will ever feel in your entire life. Don’t bring a new hot date to watch this movie with you because the lower half of her body will completely shut down after watching these scenes.
3) People are shouting, constantly, throughout the movie. It’s like a collective Greek chorus of Mystery Science Theater. And when you combine the talking over the movie, with beer and 1am, your recollection of the plot will get hazy. Don’t get discouraged. There is no hidden meaning to this movie and there is barely a plot. Just know that the character Lisa is horrible and everyone in the audience hates her.
4) Speaking of plot lines that meander into nowhereland, a mother in law character gets introduced and quickly announces “I got the results of the test back. I definitely have breast cancer” and then ceases to bring it up for the rest of the movie. This is your first clue that this movie was not written by Shonda Rhimes because that plot line would drag out for an entire series on Grey’s Anatomy. Basically nothing that is said in this movie matters, which brings me to my final point.
5) You haven’t seen a horrible movie until you’ve seen this one. I’ve seen my fair share of “bad” movies but I’ve never seen anything quite like this because there are SOME standards in Hollywood. We (apparently) take for granted that the camera will stay in focus, that characters who are presented will have some impact on the plot, that characters won’t throw around a football in Tuxedos without reason, and that someone somewhere in the industry would stop such a monstrosity from being made. Watch this movie to set your new bar for low.
Jenni Wright lives in Los Angeles and thankfully does not work in the movie industry.