THE DISASTER ARTIST (9 out of 10) Directed by James France; Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber; Starring James France, Dave Franco, Alison Brie and Seth Rogen; Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity; Running time 105 minutes; In wide release December 1.
In the world of cinema there are many types of bad movies. Some just aren’t any good, others are cringe-worthy bad, some are so bad they’re good, and then there’s The Room. Written and directed by and starring the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, The Room has rivaled Plan Nine from Outer Space as the worst film of all time and has garnered a cult following, complete with midnight screenings, since its release in 2003. And of course, there had to be an interesting and entertaining story as to how it got made, so enter James Franco’s The Disaster Artist which hilariously explains how something so bad came to be.
Based on the book of the same name, The Disaster Artist introduces us to Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) a wannabe actor taking acting classes and failing at them. He becomes intrigued with the eccentricity of one of his classmates, Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), and the two become fast friends and decide to move to LA to pursue their dreams of becoming movie stars. Tommy makes it clear that he likes his anonymity and requests that Greg never ask where he’s from or where he got his money, and it becomes clear that Tommy somehow has a lot of it. Unable to make any headway with the Hollywood bigwigs, Tommy decides to write, direct and star in a self-financed film that will finally give him and Greg the break they’ve been looking for – The Room.
There is one prerequisite to seeing The Disaster Artist; it is vitally important that everyone going in has recently seen The Room. Yes, that is quite a task considering how difficult it can be to get through, but there are so many in-jokes and references to it that anyone not familiar will miss out on half the comedy in this story. But as much as it enjoys poking fun at the movie it’s making, it never turns into farce or tries to belittle the people or process that went into the creative process behind The Room. In fact, the final scene where the movie is screened for the first time and Tommy is absolutely devastated as the audience laughs and makes fun of his passion project was incredibly hard to watch at first. Yes, he made a horrible movie, but he honestly did think he had something moving and important on his hands despite the fact he had absolutely no idea what he was doing or how to do it.
James Franco is fantastic as Tommy Wiseau and completely nails his mannerisms and accent down to the smallest detail. It’s quite the sight to behold to watch him recreate some of the best/worst scenes from The Room as the resemblance is nearly uncanny and will be earning him some acting nods as we enter the heart of awards season. In fact, make sure to stay through the first half of the credits as they show scenes from The Room and Disaster Artist side by side via split screen. It’s almost enough to make one wonder just how much of the original film they had to reshoot for this one and if there is enough footage for an actual remake to be released. Something that would be fun to watch and would be a great special feature when it finally comes out on Blu-ray.
The Disaster Artist gives us everything we could hope for and more. It’s incredibly funny, well-acted and moving in parts. James Franco’s performance as Wiseau is worth the price of admission alone, and “fans” of The Room will have a blast discovering all the Easter eggs and references to the original. And again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to suffer through The Room to fully enjoy this one. Tommy Wiseau thought he had something special on his hands, and in the end, it kind of turned out that he did. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, and to have a movie as fantastic as The Disaster Artist rise from the ashes of The Room means that it and Wiseau will live on in infamy.