The Room NYC Screening, Or The Greatest Night Ever

(Photos by Marshall McDonald and Amy Anstette.)

Oh, MAN. First, I will confess that I exaggerate. In fact, to say that I am prone to exaggeration would be the understatement of the millennium. BUT it is impossible to overstate how much fun, and how memorable, Friday night’s three-theater screening of Tommy Wiseau’s cult film The Room was for hundreds of ecstatic people, both first-timers and fans. In fact, I think the five or so hours (including pre-and-post-movie drinks/excitement) of Room-themed-fun that played out Friday night was a bigger deal than, say, the entire SXSW festival. But, then, I do exaggerate more than any human being who has ever lived. But really, it was the BEST! Here are some highlights.

First off, inspired by David Wain’s introduction of the movie, I have a new policy on describing The Room to people who haven’t seen it. From now on, instead of making any attempt to sell them on it, I’m just going to say: “Just watch this. Just watch.” So much of this movie is the thrill of discovery, and I don’t want to take that away from anyone (though, really, it’s kind of impossible to take anything away.) I’ll also add “But it’s not a horror movie.” (Since the title sounds kind of like a horror movie.)

I attended the screening with ten friends, only three of whom had already seen the movie. The other seven were excited because of what they’d heard, but also understandably a little bit “What am I signing up for, here?” But mostly excited. As we waited in line, we saw a lot of people carrying footballs (probably the least-invested, ice-cool way to geek out in line for this movie) and a couple people with blonde wigs with ties around their heads (a visual reference to “drunk Lisa” in the film.) I didn’t dress up, but I certainly jumped up and down excitedly in line and yelled enough catchphrases at total strangers to appropriately demonstrate what a Room-spaz I am.

Once the audiences filled the three auditoriums, David Wain came in and introduced director/writer/actor Tommy Wiseau to each, and Tommy did a five minute Q&A session. Tipster/audience member/Room-lover Amy Anstette’s Q&A was funnier than the one in my theater and she got great video of Tommy reciting William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 (!), so here is that:

Man, I hope The Room comes to Broadway! (Though it would probably do better off-off — not sure how many Jersey soccer moms would get it.)

We could hear the screams and applause from one of the other theaters as their movie began. And then our theater darkened, and the familiar “Wiseau Films” logo filled the screen. Everyone cheered, and the familiar San Francisco stock-footage (“Full House!”) set the scene for this romantic revenge fantasy “in the style of Tennessee Williams.”

The Room screened in NYC three years ago, but with little fanfare or notice, so for many this was our first chance to enjoy the Rocky Horror-ish crowd participation experience, as well as to see details (a comical reappearing boom-mic, something going on with Lisa’s neck) that just aren’t noticeable on a TV screen. For my theater (Auditorium 6, represent!) participation consisted of the yelling out of familiar observations and, of course, screaming in unison along with famous lines like “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” and “I did not hit her I did noott!” And, of course, people threw plastic spoons when framed spoons appeared on screen (and sometimes when they didn’t, just to throw spoons.) My gang didn’t bring any spoons with us, but enough landed in our laps that we got to re-throw and enjoy that full experience as well. The movie seemed to fly by, with constant audience commentary — and I’d like to single out whoever was sitting in approximately the fourth row stage left for their particularly witty bons mot.

A note on the first sex scene, which occurs about five minutes into the film — five minutes after Tommy Wiseau was standing just a few feet in front of us:

Um, that was a little weird at first. But, somehow, we managed to get through the initial awkwardness and scream “ahhh! whyyyy?” just like we would at home.

Amy was in another auditorium and has this anecdote:

“I don’t know how the crowd was in your theater but we had some “pros” in ours who knew all the things to shout and had all the appropriate props and such (although I did bring blow-up footballs so I’m pretty awesome). The best part though was when someone threw a ton of confetti up at the moment when everyone yells “Surprise!” at Johnny’s party. They threw it up right in front of the projector so it lingered on the screen for a while. They also did it when Johnny [SPOILER]. Probably the best moment of the night. I kind of want to be the person in charge of that.”

Next time, Amy, next time.

Anyway, when the movie ended it was 2:30 AM, but not even the most mature and sane of us could even think of going home, so we went to a nearby bar to savor the experience and its attendant adrenaline rush. This event was such an obvious success that it will surely happen again soon, so if you get the chance, please go! You don’t need to know anything before you go: just be ready to express yourself, to laugh, and to cry, but remember: don’t hurt each other.