REVIEW — “The Disaster Artist”
Every joke you can make about The Room has already been made more times than you can imagine. The way the film has excelled cult status and become a household name for the standard of shitty movies is genuinely remarkable. However, I never wondered what the production of The Room must have been like other than the casual “how did this ever happen?” thought while watching the film. Based on the novel by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, The Disaster Artist recounts the forming of the friendship between aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and the now-infamous Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), and how their friendship and misadventures in L.A. spawned the insane production of the film we know as The Room.
One of the most admirable qualities about The Disaster Artist is how it never feels as if it’s mocking Tommy Wiseau’s vision for The Room or the “disaster” it turned out to be. Being genuine is hard, but it’s even more difficult when you’re trying to tell the story of one of the most beloved-bad films of all time. James Franco, who is also behind the camera of the director here, understands the necessity to be laughing alongside these characters and not directly at them. At its core, the film is about friendship and the unity of making a film and the power it has to bring people together. It’s not a message you’d suspect to get when telling a story about The Room, but when you think about the millions of midnight screenings and cult followings the film has, it truly is a beautiful thing to have so many people experience joy and laughter together – even if it isn’t in the way that Tommy intended.
Just as the tone and script of the film don’t set out to mock The Room or Tommy Wiseau as a person, James Franco’s performance as Wiseau is one of the most strikingly balanced acts I’ve seen on film in a few years. He walks a very fine line between visually and cartoonishly exhibiting the craziness of Tommy Wiseau and why he is such a polarizing figure, but he also somehow finds the space to make Tommy a sympathetic character who feels real and dynamic opposed to a Saturday Night Live-esque impression of Tommy. Dave Franco leads a lot of this film, and he works wonderfully as Sestero. Their chemistry with one another is what sells the core friendship and gives the heart of the film a true meaning by the end. It’s also very entertaining to see side characters on the production be played by familiar faces like Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Paul Scheer, Alison Brie, Josh Hutcherson, etc; it wouldn’t be a Franco/Rogen production without a ton of cameos!
My only real gripe with the film is truly a nitpick, but I do wish they would’ve shown Tommy’s understanding and acceptance of the cult status of The Room played out over time (as it did in real life) opposed to just an overnight resolution. I also would’ve loved to see them tackle the terrible dubbing and use that for comedic effect instead of trying to sell that everything terrible was actually shot/spoken. These are just nitpicks from a guy who grew up in the internet culture and has laughed at the history of The Room for many years. Aside from those slight faults, The Disaster Artist is unabashedly entertaining from beginning to end and one of the most consistently hilarious yet oddly heartwarming comedies that I’ve seen in many years. 4.5/5.