- James Franco Has Made A Wickedly Funny & Good Movie Off The Ruins Of One Of The Worst Ever Made.
Grade A+ Jan , 10 2018
Based on the book of the same name, The Disaster Artist chronicles the making of Tommy Wiseau’s famous cult classic The Room, which is widely considered the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Originally released in 2003, The Room became a film that transcended its own awfulness and rose to the ranks of “so bad it’s good” thanks to its well-meaning (but inherently flawed) aspirations and the enigmatic personality of Wiseau himself. In the years since, it earned a widespread cult following and is now a staple of the midnight circuit, providing entertainment to we cinephiles everywhere. We fandom of The Room will tell you it’s an experience, and the same can be said for the story behind it. The Disaster Artist is an endearing tale of friendship and chasing your dreams that packs a surprisingly poignant punch.
Having fairly recent emotional ties to the original subject matter my brother & I were looking all the way forward to this charming, true-story tribute. Franco not only directs, but also stars in “The Disaster Artist” as Tommy Wiseau, the mysterious mastermind behind “The Room”. And his real-life brother Dave plays Tommy’s friend and filmmaking partner Greg.
The two meet in acting school in San Francisco. They move out to Hollywood together in 1998 in hopes of becoming big-time movie stars. But when constant rejection hits them hard, they decide to make and star in their own movie instead. They hire actors and a crew and buy all the equipment they need (with Tommy insisting on shooting in both 35mm and digital.
Wiseau provides all the funding, though no one has a clue where he’s getting the money from. He also wrote the script and is both director and lead actor. The script is barely passable and he knows just enough to get scenes shot. But Tommy can’t act. None of those facts stop him from plowing forward to get his vision realized. “The Room” isn’t a comedy, but the making of it is.
While The Disaster Artist is clearly the James and Dave show, their costars are more or less pushed to the background in order to focus more on Tommy and Greg. Seth Rogen plays the script supervisor (though Tommy won’t allow him to alter his vision one iota). A who’s who of familiar faces (from Zac Efron to Josh Hutcherson and Jacki Weaver) have minor roles as characters in “The Room”, while other big names appear in memorable cameos, including Judd Apatow and Bryan Cranston.
Franco has made a fun look at filmmaking done wrong. And he’s simply mesmerizing as Wiseau, an unpredictable presence and cinematic trailblazer (in his own mind). He’s both dreamer and realist. At times ridiculous, but always fearless. Franco’s surprisingly restrained, and at times moving performance, has you rooting for Tommy to succeed, even though you know the finished product is destined to be a trainwreck.
The script by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber paints the Tommy Wiseau story as a gonzo La La Land, where the primary theme is never giving up on your dreams. In a way, The Disaster Artist is quite inspirational, due to a powerful message that’s sure to speak to anyone (not just a filmmaker/artist) who’s been in a position where all seemed lost. It would have been exceptionally easy for those involved to just point their fingers at Wiseau and laugh, but it’s clear Franco and his collaborators truly admire the auteur’s unique vision and did the best they could to respect it. That passion for the material comes across onscreen, and whether one is familiar with The Room or not, it’s hard to not get swept up along this incredible journey.
Somehow what is arguably great but the worst movie ever made has spawned one of 2017’s finest offerings. A labor of love by Franco, The Disaster Artist is a must-see for fans of Wiseau’s bizarro masterpiece and lovers of film in general. Though it’s not getting the Best Picture buzz some other dramas are this season, fellow cinephiles should still be inclined to check it out if it’s playing in their area. James Franco’s performance is one for the ages, and it’s just undeniably entertaining from start to finish. For those who are planning on checking this one out in theaters, be sure to stay through the credits for a fun surprise.