“The Disaster Artist” is directed by James Franco and it also stars him as Tommy Wiseau, the director who’s known for making “The Room”, the famed 2003 film which is widely regarded as the single worst film ever made. This movie basically tells the story of Tommy Wiseau in his attempt to make “The Room” alongside his close friend and fellow actor, Greg Sestero, played by James’ brother, Dave. It’s also based off of Sestero’s book “The Disaster Artist”, which also chronicles some of the behind the scenes drama that took place during the making of “The Room”.
I’ve never read the book that this movie is based off of, but I am fortunate (and I use that term loosely) enough to have actually seen “The Room” in its entirety, and I can confirm that it is indeed a masterpiece of bad film-making. It’s a movie that’s completely and utterly disastrous in every facet, including acting, writing, directing, and even something as basic as the lighting of a scene. But I don’t need to discuss anymore than I have to about how poorly made that movie is. If you just want to watch random clips of it on YouTube, then go nuts and have yourself a good time. You’ll get a good understanding of how bad the movie really is. But for now, let’s take a look at Franco’s retelling of Wiseau’s attempts to make his disaster-piece..
If you’ve seen anything of the real Tommy Wiseau, whether it be his acting in “The Room” or an interview of him, you know he’s a bit… different, to say the least. His accent and overall appearance make him stand out for sure and I try to say that in the least asshole-ish way possible. The point is that playing someone like Wiseau is a challenge for any actor, and it’s with great surprise that I say that James Franco is terrific in the role. It’s easy to look at his performance and simply see Franco in a wig doing a funny voice, but you get so lost in how Franco immerses himself in the role that you eventually see a real onscreen depiction of Wiseau. We’re all use to seeing Franco play his usual stoner self in comedies, but here he’s playing someone who’s truly different in not only appearance, but also behavior and mindset. This may be a stretch for some, but I’d really like to see Franco get some awards recognition for his appearance.
The supporting cast also deserves some credit. Dave Franco really nails Greg Sestero as the reluctant yet still sympathetic friend who’s trying to hold himself together as he gets more and more involved with someone of Wiseau’s demeanor. I also really liked Seth Rogen as the script supervisor for “The Room”, AKA one of the competent makers on the set who gets increasingly frustrated with the production. And not only that, but there’s an onslaught of great cameos from other actors. Some are the people you’d expect to be in a movie with Franco, and some who you probably won’t see coming at all. In a movie where the focus is primarily on both Franco brothers in their performances, it’s also a delight to see the supporting actors in their small roles get some time to provide genuinely funny and entertaining moments.
What I’ll say about this movie is that it’s not 100% about the making of “The Room”. In fact, the first half of this movie is focused solely on Wiseau and Sestero’s friendship as well as their attempts to make it big in Hollywood. Some people may be bored and underwhelmed by this part, but I think that applies solely to people who want to see one thing and one thing only: the making of “The Room”. For me personally, I was completely invested in these two people as their friendship blossomed and it made for great buildup to the making of “The Room”.
The best compliment I can give this movie is that it’s not just one giant inside joke for people who have seen “The Room”. Yes, people who know the movie and watch it religiously will end up loving this movie as I did, but this movie is also an open door to people who aren’t familiar with “The Room”. You can simply watch this movie as two close friends in their attempt at making a movie and you’ll be just as entertained, if not informed about what type of movie “The Room” is. Yes, this is Franco’s passion project, but his passion doesn’t go into simply making fun of Wiseau and pandering to people who have seen his movie. His passion goes into giving audiences of all types a look at who Tommy Wiseau is and why he did what he did. Franco is clearly fascinated by the making of “The Room”, but he’s equally fascinated in bringing in a new batch of people and introducing them to such an iconic movie.
In the end, “The Disaster Artist” absolutely payed off and exceeded my expectations. I simply wanted to see an entertaining look at how “The Room” was made, but I ended up getting a drama/comedy that’s funny, informative, well acted, entertaining, and even downright heartfelt and inspiring. This movie was something that James Franco was clearly passionate about and the passion really shines through in what I think is one of the year’s best films.
Rating: Better Than Sex!!