Thursday, April 15, 2010 Bad Movie Report, Part 1

Yeah, I miss Dr. Freex's musings, too.

A while back, I posted about my desire to check out The Room, a legendarily bad movie that has developed a fanatical following. Well, I finally caught up with it in February, and it definitely lived up to its reputation. I had to stop watching the movie about halfway in, because I felt the compelling need to inflict it on share it with someone else. The lucky victim was my friend Nicole, who almost asphyxiated with laughter after only ten minutes or so of viewing. Later she did a spit take that would've wiped out my laptop if I hadn't had the foresight to move it out of any potential spew path earlier.

Nicole has become obsessed with the film. Two days after we first watched the movie, she called to breathlessly inform me that The Room was playing at the Music Box Theater that very weekend - and that the director, Tommy Wiseau, would be attending. She insisted that we attend. Insisted. She was very insistent.

It was a weird night. The film is bad enough, and seeing it twice in such a short time did me some serious psychic damage. But what sent things over the edge was the presence of the man himself. Tommy Wiseau was a wizened little thing, oddly dressed and even more oddly behaved. If you told me he was really a thousand-year-old gnome I would have believed it. Adding to Wiseau's personal strangeness was the sense of unreality that always accompanies meeting someone you've only ever seen on the screen before, cranked up to eleven by the bizarre nature of The Room itself. It was mind-blowing to have the person responsible for that cinematic plane crash standing in front of you mangling the English language and copping surreptitious feels off of hipster chicks.

Wiseau worked the line waiting to get in the theater, flirting with the women and high-fiving the men. He was more than happy to pose for pictures with anyone who asked. (I made an unsuccessful to snap a photo of Nicole with Wiseau using her phone's camera. She blames user error, but the phone itself was blatantly at fault.) He signed tons of autographs, as it seems that half the audience brought in DVD's and/or posters to be graced with his signature. Wiseau seemed genuinely appreciative of his fans, no matter what they might really think of his life work.

There was a brief Q&A session before the film. Most of the audience were in on the joke. They praised Wiseau and his film and asked the sort of mildly fawning questions you hear at any personal appearance screening. However, a couple of peeps (both women, for whatever it's worth) weren't having it. They tried to engage with Wiseau on a more serious level, bringing up The Room's various flaws and its negative reputation and generally just being big buzzkills. Wiseau was clearly put off by their attempts. Even with folks who were more attuned to the playful vibe of the audience, he was pretty curt when asked specific questions about the film and its production. "Watch the movie," was his stock response.

It was clear that Wiseau really loves the attention The Room has brought him. It was equally clear that he is really uncomfortable dealing with the reasons why his film has become so popular. The Room is obviously an autobiographical work and a heartfelt attempt at making a great motion picture. So it has to suck for Wiseau to realize that the fame and adulation he craves has come at the cost of his magnum opus being a laughing stock. Or maybe not. Let's face it - anyone who could go through the entire process of writing, rehearsing, filming, editing, and distributing this particular piece of cinematic history has to have some skill at self-delusion. As long as he can keep that going, he can bask in the (in)fam(y) and sell movie tickets and DVD's and posters and freaking bobbleheads and God knows what else.

For those interested in experiencing The Room for themselves, the DVD is available from NetFlix and another midnight screening is scheduled at the Music Box for Saturday, April 24th. As an added bonus, below is the trailer for Tommy Wiseau's latest project, a workplace comedy inexplicably called The Neighbors. Why yes, that's is a cat sleeping on Tommy's head.