A Viewer's Guide To The Room
[Editor’s note: For those of you lucky enough to see The Room in a theater—or perhaps willing to recreate the experience at home—a group of Room devotees has been kind enough to put together this thorough (but by no means definitive) guide to its communal rituals. Print and save.]
Nearly all of the artwork in the film features spoons. Whenever one of the works appears on screen, you yell “Spoon!” and hurl plastic picnic spoons at the screen. Fourth row from the screen essentially makes the whole project self-replenishing, because most spoons land there. You literally throw a handful and another handful falls in your lap. It’s like being part of a plastic-cutlery salmon migration. As the film trudges on, people start throwing spoons out of boredom, even if the scene doesn’t require it.
You can pretty much yell it any time lost Brawny Quilted Picker-Upper spokesman Greg Sestero is on screen. It is particularly fitting when he’s about to be manly about something.
Lisa’s mother alludes to having it once and then never mentions it again. Also, when she touches Lisa on the nose, some people shout “I put my evil inside you!”
Used to herald the arrival of the tragic kidult. Also, every time Denny leaves the scene, it is proper to shout “Goodbye, Denny!”
• ”One!” “Two!”… (counting bff allusions)
Sestero’s character alludes to being Tommy’s best friend between five and seven times in the movie. The number is uncertain because whenever he alludes to it, everyone yells out which number they think it is. Usually, people are hammered enough that by “Three!” or “Four!”, two-thirds of the theater has no idea, or thinks they have fallen ahead or behind.
• “FOCUS! UNFOCUS!!”
The film is constantly going in and out of focus. (“Damn you Todd Barron!” He’s the director of photography, and that’s what you shout when his credit pops up) Whenever the film goes out of focus, people shout “Focus!” Of course, when it does come back into focus during a sex scene, it is necessary to shout “Oh God. Unfocus!”
• ”Shoot her!”
Yelled during Lisa’s protracted neck-twitch scene. (It’s a reference to the opening of Jurassic Park.) Also appropriate: “Quaid, get to the reactor!”
• Yelling “‘Cause you’re a woman!” after pretty much anything that regards a female character.
Started off as a dig at the film’s casual misogyny (there are half a dozen places where it works and is hilarious), but quickly spiraled into a non sequitur that can be dumped after anything. It is the Room equivalent of adding “in bed” to a fortune-cookie fortune. Every time I watch it, I am forced to ask myself: “Who is the woman that broke Tommy’s heart? Who is the evil bitch responsible for this movie?”
• Various things to yell over B-roll:
For Alcatraz, or anything framed with bars
“Go! Go! Go! Go!”
Used to cheer on tracking shots of the bridge. Celebrate when it makes it all the way across the bridge. Express your disappointment when it doesn’t.
“Everywhere you look, everywhere you look!”
Sung over houses that look like the ones from the opening of Full House.
“Meanwhile, back in San Francisco!”
Whenever a shot uses the iconography of the city to verify that, yes, we have not left San Francisco.
• Saying “Hi” to Tommy when he appears to look down at the corner of the screen during the party scene. This entails running down to the screen and hanging out toward the bottom-right-hand corner and then shouting as his eyes acknowledge you.
• As Denny eats the apple which might be the most heavy-handed and irrelevant action in the film, I enjoy shouting “Oh, shit! Metaphor!” (Seriously, just what the hell is eating the apple supposed to signify? That Denny has given in to temptation? What temptation? What the hell does Denny giving in to temptation have to do with anything?)
• When the characters throw the football back and forth, you do the same thing with your friend(s). Since you are drunk and in a darkened movie theater, this usually goes awry. One of my friends accidentally beaned Tommy this way. Another time, someone hit the screen and the theater ownership got pissed.
• At one point, two characters will show up in Tommy’s apartment. They will be fucking. No one will know who they are, thus it is appropriate to shout “Who the fuck are you?” whenever they appear onscreen.
• It is also appropriate to shout this when the actor playing Peter (the psychologist) disappears (maybe he was looking at the camera too much?), only to be replaced by another actor who looks nothing like him. Yes, just “Who the fuck are you?”
• Tommy’s deranged giggle, which he delivers at inappropriate moments (“He beat her up so bad, she wound up in a hospital on Guerro St.” “HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”) should be mocked mercilessly.
• One of my favorite moments was back in ‘06. Two guys dressed up and acted out the Denny vs. Chris R. scene at the front of the theater while the scene happened onscreen.
• ”The Seventh-Inning Stretch” is what we call the longest of the film’s gratuitous sex scenes. This is where you piss/smoke. Pros know it’s coming and beat the traffic.
• Singing along to “You Are My Rose” and lifting one’s phone/lighter. Let’s not forget that we are all part of the same wave of undeniable good. A friend noted that they should’ve used “You Are My Rose” instead of “Hallelujah” in Watchmen.
• On that note, breaking into the “Yes We Can!” chant sometimes works, especially after Tommy’s speech about “If everybody loved each other, the world would be a better place.” This chant started during the election and has continued since. I like to think that’s it one of those rare moments where irony and sincerity collide, neither quite dominating the other.
• Being open about one’s revulsion during any of the sex scenes. Includes graphically describing the act and hurling the cruelest jokes about the actors’ bodies/movements that one can conceive. Breaking into the Free Willy theme is sometimes done. Notice how it looks like Tommy is fucking her belly button? Yeah, you’re doing it wrong, Wiseau.
• Humming the Mission: Impossible theme when Tommy is hooking the tape deck up to the answering machine. Mind you, this movie was made in 2003 and Tommy (Johnny) was still fucking around with a tape deck, which given the amount of time that passes between this scene and when he plays the recorded conversation, must have been one of those super 72-hour tapes.
• Tommy often does a Q&A before each screening. The questions are usually the same: “How much did the film cost?” “Where did you get the money from?” (He doesn’t ever reveal that.) “Where are you from?” (Also doesn’t answer.) For the longest time, Tommy stopped showing up at screenings, but ever since the write-up in EW, he’s come every month. Usually he drops some reference to a celebrity possibly being in the audience.
• He really is that grotesque in real life, not buff like in the movie. Made entirely of Bionic Christmas Hams, that man is!
• But he also has enough of a sense of naïveté that you kind of root for him. He really did think he was making a masterpiece.
• He also performs a Shakespearean sonnet at the end of each Q&A. This is as awesome as it sounds.
VICES ONE COULD INDULGE IN IF ONE WERE SO INCLINED
• Cisco fortified wine remains the gold standard. It’s cheap (<$5 for eight servings) and the drunk combines the euphoria of a wine drunk with the psychotic edge of cocaine cut with gummi-bear runoff. You will be confident and jacked-up enough to yell your stupid jokes before they even register as thoughts.
• This one actually requires a buddy. I did it last time I went. Basically, you each drink half of one of the huge things of RockStar, then each dump half a fifth of bourbon into the RockStar can and stir it. You’re sacrificing coherency in the end, but it’s a blast.
• The scotch/vodka drink they have in the movie itself is only recommended for people who want to go from grossed-out to fucked-up to sick in the span of 15 minutes. I have seen this made and imbibed during a screening of the film. Do not drink this. Bad things will happen.