Film and TV

Make Room for a Cult Classic at the Angelika. Spoons Optional.

Filmmaker, after a fashion, Tommy Wiseau
Filmmaker, after a fashion, Tommy Wiseau Tommy Wiseau, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
“I did not hit her. It’s not true! It’s bullshit! I did not hit her. I did not. Oh, hi, Mark.”

For nearly 20 years, this iconic monologue has baffled moviegoers. The rooftop conversation is only one of the bonkers conversations that make up Tommy Wiseau’s cult movie masterpiece The Room. Wiseau, fashioning himself as the next Orson Welles, wrote, directed, produced, shot, financed and starred in a “serious drama” so misconceived it continues to court laughing midnight crowds to this day.

Wiseau’s cult celebrity had gone mainstream following the release of The Disaster Artist, a memoir by his best friend and co-star Greg Sestero about the film’s production that detailed the life of a man just as weird as his characters. The bestseller was adapted into an Oscar-nominated film of the same name, in which James Franco earned acclaim for his performance and famously denied Wiseau a chance to speak at the Golden Globes.

The cornerstone of The Room’s success has always been the midnight screenings. Debate rages on as to whether or not Wiseau is in on the joke, but the ritual of seeing The Room with a live crowd involves line repetition, football passing and throwing spoons at the screen. It’s this generation’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show, except there are even more awkward sex scenes (both films have three, but The Room’s are each about 10 minutes long).

The Room returns to Dallas this Friday at the Angelika Film Center in Dallas, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. For newbies, we’ve listed 10 questions you’ll probably have if this is your first journey down Wiseau-lane.

1. What’s with the spoons?
Viewers enjoy throwing spoons at the screen at showings of The Room because of the inordinate number of background paintings of cutlery. No one knows why this is a recurring motif; perhaps Wiseau is a secret devotee to Spoon Theory.

2. Is that dog alive?
The flower shop sequence is one of The Room’s most famous, and we’re still not entirely sure if Wiseau was using a lifelike prop or an actual mutt.

3. What was Denny’s involvement in the drug scene?
A major plot point revolves around the character of Denny, the creepy next-door neighbor kid, who's confronted by drug dealers. Apparently, Denny has connections to the criminal underworld, but they’ve never been fully explained by Wiseau.

4. Did Lisa’s mother recover from breast cancer?
Lisa’s shrewd mother both hates and loves Wiseau’s character Johnny; we don’t know why. We also don’t know if she ever recovered from breast cancer, which she brings up once and never mentions again.

5. Is there a secret vampire deleted scene?
Rumors persist that the original script of The Room revealed that Johnny was secretly a vampire. Perhaps Wiseau has some deleted footage locked away. Is #ReleaseTheWiseauCut coming?

6. What’s the deal with Peter?
Mark nearly throws Peter (a doctor of a vague medical practice) from the rooftop in one scene, but then their casual conversation continues. Is this his form of alternative medicine?

7. What do we focus on?
Literally. The shots are constantly going in and out of focus. Blind incompetence or outsider art?

8. We’re in San Francisco, right?
Outside of the laboriously long sex scenes, some of the longest stretches of The Room are the extensive establishing shots of San Fransisco. They’re so detailed that some have even mapped the film’s events out for a day trip.

9. What planet is Wiseau from?
Wiseau left his origins ambiguous when talking to Jimmy Kimmel in 2016, so we’re still figuring out what corner of the galaxy is his homeworld. His production company is simply titled “Tommy’s Planet.”

10. Is Big Shark the most anticipated movie ever made?
Wiseau has been languishing in his celebrity for 18 years, making only brief acting appearances in low-budget direct-to-VOD films, web shows and sketches. He’s finally returning to his role as actor/writer/director/producer for the monster movie Big Shark, which delayed its release to later this year. Yeah, that’s our most anticipated movie of the year now. Sorry, Dune.
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Liam Gaughan has been covering film and television since before he had a driver's license, and in addition to the Observer has been published in, Schmoes Know, Taste of Cinema and The Dallas Morning News. He enjoys checking classic films off of his watchlist and working on spec scripts.