Last Friday Coral, Jordan, Atlas, and I went to see one of the worst movies ever made.
In the process, we got to experience one of Portland’s (arguably) coolest local offerings: Cinema 21. The movie theater, located on 21st street, always offers more small-screen, carefully curated fare than other large blockbuster theaters. Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to see a few amazing films there that I couldn’t catch anywhere else; The Red Shoes, The Illusionist, and Tarkovsky’s Stalker to name a few. That night, we went to see The Room, Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 drama—a movie many film critics have called “the worst film of all time.” The theater was offering an interactive viewing, a la Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Not only was I pumped to go to an interactive viewing of one of the most terrible movies ever, I had actually already gone to see an interactive viewing for The Room at Cinema 21 a few years previous. To be fair, Tommy himself was at this viewing, and his strange behavior during the Q&A proceeding the film will definitely go down as one of my most cherished high school memories. Safe to say that I’d enjoyed myself at this viewing so much that as soon as tickets were available for last Friday, I was already asking my MISC classmates if they wanted to come.
Even without Tommy, The Room didn’t disappoint during a second public viewing. As the four of us queued up at the front of a line that wrapped all the way around the block, we started seeing people dressed in khaki pants, blazers, and dark sunglasses. Some even wore dark curly-haired wigs; their transformation into Johnny, the main character of The Room, was uncanny. Portlanders were going all out for this movie. I knew this was gonna be good.
I was also nervous, and excited, to bring along Atlas and Jordan, neither of whom had seen the film before; interactive viewings are intense. In the lobby of theater used to stand a giant, poster board sized sign that delineated when and how audiences of The Room are ‘suggested’ to interact with the masterpiece. In practice, things are a little less organized: over the course of the film, lines are screamed, sound effects are enthusiastically improvised, and there are intermittent cries of “SPOONS!” followed by hail storms of—you guessed it-- plastic spoons, prompted by onscreen setpieces.
However, despite the barrage of utensils, we all got through the movie intact and I think I speak for all of us when I say I had a fantastic time. Normally, I’m one for keeping quiet in the movie theater and letting the film wash over you, drawing you into its narrative. With that in mind, I can safely say that the interactive viewing of The Room is possibly the best way to enjoy the film—there’s something about watching adults scream “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!!” in a crowded theater, complete with hand gestures, that smacks of community, or even something uniquely Portland.
But who knows; maybe it’s the nonsensical cuts, the random football tossing, or Wiseau’s brilliant line delivery that just makes for a plain fantastic time.