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Ryanair Lost My Baby
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Bring your plastic spoons and come to George Square Theatre to experience the cult phenomenon that is The room! Written, directed, Produced and Starring Tommy Wiseau, this 2003 film is loved by fans worldwide for being so bad that it’s good.
It is an almost impossible task to review this event. If we are looking purely at Tommy Wiseau's cinematic effort as a director, writer, performer and producer then this would possibly be one of the most scathing one-star reviews ever written. But the sheer, horrific awfulness of this 2003 ‘drama’ is what has made it such a cult classic all over the world.
Firstly let's deal with the actual movie. It is diabolical. The script is painfully stilted, unbelievable and makes very little sense. The main storyline follows the love triangle between Wiseau's character Johnny, his fiance Lisa (played by Juliette Danielle) and Johnny's best friend Mark (played by Greg Sestero). There are sub-plots, but every single one of them is touched upon, mentioned once and then entirely ignored throughout the remainder of the film. One of the classic examples of this is Lisa's mother announcing in a very blasé way that she has breast cancer, which is shrugged off and never revisited.
Every scene is worst than the last, important characters are introduced halfway through the film then disappear again without any warning (the actor playing one quit halfway through the shoot and his remaining lines were just passed on to another character who is never introduced or explained). It is also brilliantly misogynistic with Lisa's mother brushing over any hint of her daughter’s unhappiness, and even her accusation of domestic abuse by essentially telling her to shut up and put up because Johnny has a good job and will buy her things.
It isn't just the script that makes this film so unbearably and joyfully bad. The acting, direction, syncing and cinematography are equally incompetent. The action was even shot in high definition and on 35mm film and the final cut features shots in both formats, jumping wildly between the two for no apparent reason.
Wiseau is an acting catastrophe with an expressionless face, soulless eyes and a laugh so lacking in any emotion even an oak tree would get jealous about how much wood he has. And speaking of wood, if you do choose to see this film get ready for some of the most overplayed, overlong and criminally cringeworthy sex scenes. They are not violent or perverse, but the sight of seeing Wiseaus weirdly taut yet bumpy naked body writhing away on the big screen for what can feel like hours will test your ability to swallow your bile – the man looks like a side of ham that has been left out in the sun. He, however, seems to be very proud of his body as he has sadly left very little to the imagination.
His co-stars don't fare much better. Danielle is forced to bare all three times in the first 20 minutes. Wiseau and Sestero constantly refer to her as beautiful as if to play some Derren Brown mind trick on their viewers to convince them they are watching some Hollywood hotty rather than an extra that has hit it lucky with a paid casting. Her character Lisa has been written so badly it is unsurprising that she struggles to deliver any line with conviction or poise.
One of the most mysterious characters is Denny (played by Phillip Haldiman), not because he is dark and brooding, just because his entire backstory is completely unexplained, he seems to serve no point at all in progressing the story and yet he is one of the main players, frequently turning up to ask to borrow sugar or to eat an apple in Johnny and Lisa's company.
I cannot stress enough how bad every single conceivable detail of this film is, and I cannot stress enough how magical it is to watch this amateurish nightmare unfold on a big screen.
And this is where the problems reviewing lie. I am in the privileged position of having seen this movie numerous times in the comfort of a living room, surrounded by like-minded people and several bottles of wine. I am well-read on its back story and have a good knowledge of its cult status and how audiences react when seeing it in a theatre. So when given the chance to attend the screening in Edinburgh I knew exactly how to prepare and what to expect which is almost essential when it comes to attending one of these notorious events.
The only thing I can liken it to is The Rocky Horror Show – minus the writing talent, skilful acting and tongue-in-cheek self-awareness. The Assembly has done its best by giving the movie a midnight timeslot to ensure your average Fringe-goer doesn't stumble upon this mess accidentally, so most of the audience in tonight’s show were well aware of what they were letting themselves in for, and if they weren't, they were too drunk to care. Alcohol is almost imperative, if only to get through the gruesome sex scenes.
Some intoxicating lubrication also comes in handy to remove any inhibitions you may have about screaming abuse or catchphrases at the unfolding drama on screen. It may also help numb the pain if you get his by any of the volley of plastic spoons that are hurled to the front of the theatre whenever a spoon appears in the movie. Yes, this does actually happen often enough to result in a huge pile of cutlery littering the floor.
From the minute the opening credits role the audience is whooping, cheering, whistling and baying for Wiseau. Even the mere appearance of his name in the credits (which happens often) unleashes a new wave of noise from the fans. This rarely abates during the entire screening, with the most famous quotes being chanted along to, audience reaction scripts having been googled and loyally followed and general squeals of delight and disgust as the craziness unfolds before us.
It is almost impossible not to be swept along with the mob and even The Room virgins eventually get into the swing of things and quickly borrow some spoons from their neighbours. There were, inevitably, a couple of walk-outs. Those who genuinely wanted to see the movie and those that felt like they were missing the in-jokes couldn't sit through the screaming and jeering. And that is why these five stars come with a disclaimer.
Before you go to see one of these screenings, it is so important to actually watch the film at home, preferably with a handful of mates and a few beers so you can actually pick it apart and learn to love the sheer audacity of Wiseau for releasing such a tremendously bad attempt at a movie on to the unsuspecting paying public before you become one of those very members of the unsuspecting paying public. The euphoria for The Room in the room may carry you though, but to truly get involved and add to the experience you need to do your groundwork.
But trust me, it is so entirely worth it. This has truly been the highlight of my Fringe.
|Date of live review: Thursday 25th Aug, '11|
Review by Corry Shaw
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