‘The Room Celebration’: 20 Years of ‘The Room’

My first visit to see Wiseau Films on the Big Screen.

by Collin Willis
The Room Celebration

The Room  and I

I’m no stranger to Tommy Wiseau’s The Room. Like many people, I first became aware of its existence when caught in the orbit of The Disaster Artist in 2017. This was the first awards season that I was into as “a movie guy”. It also came on the heel of me discovering movies that weren’t studio tentpoles in 2016. The Room came to me as I was redeveloping my sense of cinematic taste and learning more in-depth about filmmaking as a whole. It also came to me as I was settling into the friend group I’ve had for the past seven years. I have a lot of sentiment towards The Room because of the bonds I made while watching it. So, when I saw Tommy Wiseau tweet about The Room Celebration for the film’s 20th anniversary, I bought tickets in an instant.

Theater 8: The Wild West

This was my first theatrical showing of The Room, though I’ve seen it at least ten times before. There was even a week in college where my roommate and I watched it three times because each night a different friend was over and hadn’t seen it. Those ten viewings could not have prepared me for the madness that was the 7 pm showing in theater 8. Here’s a list of the wildest things that happened during the show:

  • Spoons! (but this is common for a The Room showing)
  • A Tommy Wiseau impersonator holding an impromptu Q&A before the show
  • A guy live-streaming 90% of the movie to his Instagram story like it was a concert
  • The entire theater sang Happy Birthday to Johnny during the infamous birthday party scene
  • Everyone yelling “chug” at each establishing shot that droned on
  • Every iconic line being quoted by so many people you couldn’t hear the actual dialogue
  • A guy starting a “clap to the beat” for “You’re My Rose” during the second sex scene. People, myself included, clapped for the entire three-minute song.

Theater etiquette was non-existent during that showing. I recently watched The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – Extended Edition in theaters for its 20th anniversary. It’s a movie with a much larger fanbase, with far more “cheer-able” moments, and it’s actually a coherently made film. Yet it didn’t inspire any of the same revelry, and anyone throwing spoons at Frodo and Sam or recording the four-hour show would have been asked to leave. So what makes The Room Celebration different?

The Room Celebration

The Room is by all accounts a failure of a film. There is no sense of pacing, horrid dialogue, and acting that is simply memeable. It is as nearly universally recognized as being “a bad film” as it can be. It made little to no money on release. Yet twenty years later people are losing their minds to go and see it on the big screen. The theater was rowdy and loud, but they weren’t booing a movie they hated. They were engaging with a movie they loved in a way that only a movie that chaotic and unique can illicit.

The Room Celebration is a testament to the passion both behind and in front of this passion project. It is a movie that Tommy Wiseau poured his heart and soul into, one that he made a success through sheer force of will. As I brushed up on my The Room lore, I was amazed at how a man turned what should have been his biggest disgrace into something more famous than many recent Best Picture titles. Like Ethan Hunt, Tommy Wiseau is a specialist without equal, the living manifestation of destiny.

Not A Drop of Cynicism

Having spent much of my time dwelling on The Room the past few days, I think the thing that created a legacy it quite frankly never should have had is the absolute lack of cynicism in the work of its writer/director/producer/star. The Room fumbles with dark themes of lust, death, betrayal, and failure. Yet, as hard as the subjects it attempts to tackle are, it never has a mean thing to say about them.

Its creator has made it a success by viewing the film the same way. It is flawed, but it is a flawed thing that he was proud of. That pride, even if it is misplaced, has a gravitational pull to it. The audience during The Room Celebration loved that movie because its creator and star loved that movie. They know it’s bad, they know it’s nonsensical, and they do not care because it is infused with an unperturbable passion.

Legacy of The Room

There is a reason that my non-movie friends know about The Room but not Nomadland. One of those movies is a Best Picture winner with acclaimed actors, and I personally think it is very good. Yet that film is not a phenomenon. Those two movies are very unlike things and comparison might not seem fair, but the point is that quality doesn’t matter. The Room has been panned so much that it can no longer be judged. The film and its creator are so open to mockery that it can no longer be mocked. It is impossible not to like it regardless of how awful it is. It simply does not adhere to the rules of moviemaking. Yet it’s more imbued with passion and its director’s misdirected style than any 2023 blockbuster I can think of.

The Room isn’t a product to be sold or an exhibition to be shown, it is an event to be a part of. The very title of The Room Celebration is a testament to that. This is a thing that people adore, a once-in-a-lifetime trainwreck that turned into something beautiful. The Room is something worth engaging with against theatrical convention, and celebrating not for how good it is or how much money it made, but because it exists and continues to persist twenty years on. It is an indie touchstone so unique that no one else could have possibly made it or kept it going for so long.

Follow MovieBabble on Twitter @MovieBabble_ and Collin @IlIestWillis

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1 comment

Aoc July 6, 2023 - 5:53 pm

Truly interesting.


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