The-Room-Loft-Cinema-Web-01The Room, renowned for being the worst movie ever made, plays once a month at midnight at San Francisco’s Clay Theatre.  I’ve been aware of this showing for some time, but the thought of a long line of hipsters bickering about the etymology of the term “irony” and its rampant misusage, frankly, turned me off.  Nevertheless, I caved because none other than Tommy Wiseau himself, the quasimoto-esque, enigmatic director and star of The Room, was hosting his movie for Clay’s November showing in celebration of its tenth anniversary.  I became intrigued.  Does this guy realize that he made one of the most laughingly horrible movies ever, and thus, is he a mere good sport?  Or, is he delusional?

The night started out rocky as I was surrounded in a long line by several drunken frat boys parroting their favorite lines from the film.  Annoying.  Once inside, though, I proceeded to have the most rip-roaring fun I’ve had in a while.

The cinema landscape is littered with bad movies.  There’s Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus, Pootie Tang, The Trailer Park Boys, and Basket Case, but each film is intended to be bad, and each belongs to a fringe genre: grind house, exploitation, psychotronic, mockumentary… .  But, none of these genres can proudly claim The Room as its own.  The Room is a unicorn of cinematic history.

The film portrays the everyday struggles of a bleeding heart investment banker, Johnny, his fiancé Lisa, their ‘hot’ friend Mark, and a bunch of superfluous characters who waltz in and out of the frames yet do not, in any way, drive the film’s plot.  Tommy Wiseau plays Johnny, who is being “torn apart” by his manipulative and treacherous strumpet of a fiancee.  Sex scenes are plentiful, yet anatomically confusing and awkward; each actor’s delivery seems to have no connection to the script; and, in addition to Wiseau’s wealth of pointless characters, there are a number of scenes that beg the plea, “Can someone throw me a lifeline here?”  One scene in particular still has me scratching my head: Johnny holds a tuxedo party in which he invites his male cronies.  Once they have all arrived, they proceed to a nearby alley to engage in a game of catch with a football.

As a consummate film buff, I can attest that there is something to be said for consistency.  The Room is more consistently bad than the great and revered movies are consistently good.  It’s amazing actually.

Wiseau manages to break all the rules from Film 101 for…I don’t know…infants?  But, if someone set out to make a movie this bad, it would be impossible to achieve the same level of sincere awfulness.  There was no irony in the making of this film.

Ten years old, The Room still draws long lines for its midnight showing at the Clay Theatre and at various theaters in New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere. The film’s legacy rests in its dualistic relationship with its audience: The Room cannot exist without its audience, and its audience cannot exist without the film.

The Room is The Rocky Horror Picture Show of the Millennium.  The audience celebrates the film’s poor taste, uproariously calling out the film’s inconsistencies while throwing a ton of plastic spoons (the reason for which I will not divulge).

As for Tommy Wiseau, well, even after watching his antics live on the Clay’s stage during a pre-show Q & A, I still have no idea what kind fuel runs this man.  So, bring plenty of plastic spoons and a jug of Carlo Rossi’s Red Sangria—that is, if you can find it.

Upon deciding that I must marry The Room with Carlo Rossi’s Sangria, for intuitive reasons, I set out to buy it.  After two Safeways and a few corner stores failed to provide me my Carlo, I concluded that in certain urban settings, Carlo Rossi, which I thought to be ubiquitous, has also become a unicorn.  Carlo Rossi is bad; but, as with The Room, does it have any redeemable qualities?  Sure.  It tastes like baby aspirin, and it reminds you of a time in your life when you didn’t care about such things as nuanced taste in wine and coherent character development in film.

Just as Carlo Rossi intends to make serious wines, Tommy Wiseau set out to make a serious drama about the entropy that is our lives.  Both movie and wine fall short of their intended goals; however, experiencing such spectacular shortcomings, in both cases, is where the fun lies.

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