You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!We hope you’ve been emotionally and mentally preparing yourself for this weekend: the awkward and inexplicable tension, the non-stop ill-advised drinking, the flying cutlery. Wait, what? Thanksgiving’s happening this week too? No, no, we didn’t mean that. If you haven’t figured out how to navigate the waters of a family dinner yet, we’ve got no advice for you other than to duck and cover. We mean this weekend’s two-night stand of one man’s greatest gift to cinema (also: culture, humanity, the universe): The Room, which screens midnight Friday and Saturday at The Belcourt.
If you are unfamiliar with The Room, and thus presently a subhuman Morlock, you’re missing out on the kind of cinematic experience that can only happen through insane circumstance and/or delusion. The Room is like Rocky Horror Picture Show for a generation of nerds who are uncomfortable with sexual ambiguity, show tunes, and toothless teen musical co-options. Let’s not get cute here, The Room is an awful movie made by awful people. Led by Tommy Wiseau, a cinematic terrorist if we’ve ever seen one, a cast of non-actors take us through the drama of a lifetime, about a shitty relationship or something. Honestly, we’re not really sure. Unlike Rocky Horror which starts out making sense before going balls out nutso with aliens and whatnot, The Room never makes sense. You just have to roll with it, like leaping from a moving car.
The point is, watching this movie is borderline unbearable by yourself. Thank god for an underground community of bad movie dorks (ourselves included in that mix) who discovered and nurtured this treasure trove of out of focus shots, instantly dropped plot lines and misogyny crystalized in the form of our writer/director/star/hero’s magnum opus. Like Rocky Horror, this movie is way more fun to watch with a crowd and enough units of alcohol to impress the most hardened British drunk. It can also be a little intimidating for newcomers, which is why we’ve taken the initiative to lay out some ground rules for you to follow.
A Note About Participation
Here’s the thing about midnight movie screenings with audience participation: you get out what you put in. Believe us we’re experts. If you wander into the Belcourt with a sadsack, “I’m still fat and bloated from too much Thanksgiving dinner and I hate everybody” attitude, you’re not going to have fun. But, if you’re willing to pick up on the screening shouting and spoon throwing (keep reading for more on that), you’ll probably become one of those people. You know, those people who try to convince other people to see a stupid movie at midnight. Like us. Don’t be that guy sitting with his arms crossed, dozing off during the third sex scene (oh, bt-dubs, there are four terribly awkward sex scenes in this movie. ENJOY). You paid the money, you may as well have a good time.
This is key for a Room newbie. Before heading to the theater, stop off at your local supermarket to buy the biggest box of plastic spoons you can find. The more unwieldy, the better. You know how when you buy a picture frame, there’s usually a paper insert with a smiling family in it to illustrate that yes, this frame will indeed hold your family photos? Usually we toss out the inserts and put in something more appropriate. Whoever dressed the sets for The Room didn’t quite get to that point, resulting in a framed picture of a spoon sitting on a table. We mentioned that this is a bad movie, right?
When you see the spoon, that’s your cue. Yell “Spoon!” and chuck some of your stash at the screen. Don’t question it, just go with it. If you miss the cue the first time, don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of it. Whatever you do, though, don’t hit the screen. It’s expensive and the Belcourt will kick your ass for it. Or, at least, they’ll stop showing these movies and everyone will hate you.
Pro-Tip: If you’re too cheap and/or lazy to pick up plastic spoons from the store, sit in the middle of the theater and collect them as they rain down upon you. Be proactive!
When you’re buying concessions in the lobby, you may notice a small sign advertising the night’s specialty cocktail. You may also notice the warnings against drinking the night’s specialty cocktail. Scotchka is exactly what it sounds like, a vile mixture of scotch and vodka. Let us answer your questions immediately: No, you probably don’t want to drink it. Yes, you will probably puke. We suggest erring on the side of caution when it comes to mixing clear and dark liquors, but if you really want to test fate, then by all means. Be sure to take an aisle seat for a quick escape to the toilet.
Honestly, there isn’t a lot that you need to know about what happens during screenings of The Room. The kinds of insane rituals coalesced over 30 years of Rocky Horror screenings haven’t quite trickled down to the only 7 year old pretender to the crown. Still though, you might want to know about a few of the recurring shouts before your first screening, just so you know what the hell is going on. An incomplete list:
- “Hi, Denny!” – Whenever Denny enters the room.
- “Oh hi, Mark” – See above, except with Mark.
- “Go! Go! Go! Go!” – Chanted during the unnecessarily long pans of the Golden Gate bridge. Cheer if it gets all the way across.
- “MEANWHILE BACK IN SAN FRANCISCO” – Whenever a shot of an iconic San Francisco building pops up, just to make sure you don’t forget where the movie is set.
- “Because you’re a woman!” – Said after whenever Claudette tells Lisa she needs Johnny for something. Or whenever, really. It depends on if you want to mock the film’s blatant misogyny or its bad writing.
- “Wife/Husband… of… the future!” – Whenever someone says “future wife” or “future husband.”
That should give you a decent head start. We strongly advise against making up your own jokes on your first go-round with The Room unless you are a) unbelievably funny or b) unbelievably funny. Seriously, there is no other reason. Just enjoy the movie before trying to add your two cents to it, jeez.
Still not convinced? Behold this gem and get back to us: