There’s a distinct atmosphere that’s noticeable every time one walks into the front doors of the Garneau theatre. From the brightly lit concession stand (that hosts a couple of tired looking employees) to the stale smell of ratty old red carpeting, the Garneau is a destination of great character.
On this particular evening, Feb. 3, a group of my friends and I stopped by to check out the theatre’s monthly screening of Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic The Room. If you happen to be unfamiliar with the film, you’re probably not alone. Largely cited as “one of the worst films ever made,” it has gained a great deal of cult fame due to its comedically terrible acting, nonsensical plot line, awkward dialogue, and set design ill-fit for a middle school play (never mind a feature-length film).
Originally marketed as a romance-drama, producer-director Tommy Wiseau has retrospectively changed his description of the film as being a dark comedy. But no amount of remarketing has managed to save face when it comes to this gem.
Interestingly, the embarrassing reputation of The Room has managed to amass a substantial following among cinema buffs, and now the cinematic disaster can be found playing on a monthly basis on the silver screens of the Garneau.
It’s difficult to perfectly describe how hilariously bad every scene of The Room manages to be. The opening scene depicts the character Johnny (Wiseau) as he rides the San Francisco tramline on his way home from work.
Following this introduction, he encounters his fiancée, Lisa, and gifts her with a red dress that eventually becomes a (not so subtle) metaphor for their relationship. We are then introduced to Johnny’s kid friend, Benny, who becomes a primary figure throughout the film. Hilarity only begins to ensue as Johnny and Lisa make uncomfortable attempts to kick Denny out of their apartment in order to enact the first of many awkward sexual encounters.
Throughout these first few scenes, the crowd yells out various obscenities and goofy remarks related to the characters and set. Another way the audience participates is by greeting of Denny every time he enters a scene. The phrases, “Hi, Denny,” and “Bye, Denny,” are humourous mimics of the strange delivery Johnny uses to greet this character.
The most important tradition present within this film culture can be seen in the large bags of plastic spoons that the audience members bring to throw at the screen. This mass bringing inside of spoons is a nod to the various pieces of artwork scattered throughout the apartment — all of which contain spoons for some reason.
We are eventually taken through a maze of redundant scenes that have little relation to one another, though these scenes somehow manage to maintain the fragile framework of this romantic drama.
The film’s big reveal is that Lisa and Mark (Johnny’s best friend) are engaged in a love affair. Most of Lisa’s actions following this event revolve around the fact that she’d rather be with Mark instead of Johnny (for some reason, it takes the entire film’s length to convey this).
The audience replies to Lisa’s infidelity with screams and hateful remarks.While, at times, the shouting from the audience becomes extremely vulgar, the crowd maintains a light and fun vibe. As we move closer to the date of Johnny and Lisa’s wedding, the degradation of their relationship becomes more and more prominent — eventually leading to catastrophe.
I don’t wish to reveal too much more of the film’s plot, as seeing it for yourself is part of the magic that is The Room. Between the confusing cinematic choices used in the movie and the silly hive mind of the theatre-goers, you’re bound to have a fun experience.
The Garneau does an excellent job of catering to the culture this film has established, and if you’re looking for something to do the first Friday of the month, check it out … and don’t forget your spoons!
Cover photo courtesy of theroommovie.com .