THE DISASTER ARTIST (2017) chronicles the making of one of the worst movies ever made, THE ROOM (2003). Not knowing much about this infamously bad movie, I wasn’t overly eager to see this one.
But you know what? You don’t need to know anything about THE ROOM to enjoy THE DISASTER ARTIST. James Franco’s film stands on its own. And then some.
THE DISASTER ARTIST tells the story of two friends, Greg (Dave Franco) and Tommy (James Franco) who meet in acting class and then move to Hollywood to pursue their dreams. Greg is initially attracted to Tommy because of his confidence on stage, a confidence that Greg lacks. But Tommy is strange beyond belief, as he is tight-lipped about his past, his age, and where he gets all his money. Yet there is an unstoppable drive about him, an unflappable positive attitude, and in spite of his mysterious past, he possesses an innocence and sincerity that Greg finds infectious.
Together, they set out to conquer the world— of acting, that is.
When they realize they’re simply not landing any jobs, they set out to make their own movie, financed by Tommy’s endless funds. THE DISASTER ARTIST is the story behind the making of that movie, which has become a cult classic as the best “bad” movie ever made.
THE DISASTER ARTIST is absolutely hilarious. Sure, the story behind the making of THE ROOM is interesting and amusing, but the driving force behind THE DISASTER ARTIST is James Franco’s performance as Tommy Wiseau. It’s brilliant. Franco becomes Wiseau, from his unusual accent and way of speaking, to his awkward mannerisms, to his unceasing drive to make a movie about “real life.”
Part of the comedy is that Tommy is such an oddball. He’s incredibly funny to watch. He seems to believe that he will be perceived as a great filmmaker even though we the audience see that he’s not even close and that his film is heading towards a disaster. And there’s some sympathy here, because as strange as Tommy is, he’s not a bad guy. He’s extremely likable.
James Franco steals the show, both in front of and behind the camera. THE DISASTER ARTIST is not at all like a typical comedy, yet the audience was howling with laughter at parts, more so than in most comedies I see. Franco is in so many movies, it’s difficult to pick his best roles, but his work here as Tommy Wiseau in THE DISASTER ARTIST certainly ranks up there with his best.
His brother Dave Franco does a fine job as Greg, the character most in the audience will identify with. He likes Tommy a lot, and he enjoys their friendship, and he’s excited about making their movie, but as Tommy becomes more difficult to work with, as his weird behavior puts a huge strain on the cast and crew, their friendship is tested.
The entire cast is a treat, and there are plenty of familiar faces, some in major roles like Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Alison Brie, and others in small roles or cameos, like Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Bob Odenkirk, and Bryan Cranston. Alison Brie, Dave Franco’s real-life wife, plays his girlfriend Amber here, and she is very good as well. I’ve been a fan since her role as Trudy Campbell on the TV show MAD MEN (2007-2015).
The screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, based on the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, is a hoot. The characters are fleshed out— in Tommy’s case a bit too much, as he insists his bare butt be shown on camera or else his movie won’t sell, a scene that produced one of the biggest laugh-out loud moments of the film— the story is fresh and interesting, and the situational humor is nonstop amusing.
The majority of comedies these days bore me, mostly because they follow the same formula. Nowadays, it’s usually a bunch of drunk friends getting into mischief. THE DISASTER ARTIST is anything but formulaic. Sure, it’s a biography of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero on how they made THE ROOM, but it’s a story that is so darn funny, I don’t know how else you would describe it as other than a comedy.
THE DISASTER ARTIST is a completely unconventional movie about an off the wall character and the movie he and his best friend made.
You definitely want to check out THE DISASTER ARTIST. You’re in for a real treat.
It’s no disaster.