The Disaster Artist

Posted December 8, 2017 by in

Quick Stats

Genre: comedy
Director: James Franco
MPAA Rating: R
Actors: James Franco, Dave Franco
Length: 1 hour 44 minutes
Release Date: 12/8/2017
Studio: Good Universe, New Line Cinema, Point Grey Pictures, RabbitBandini Productions, Ramona Films, RatPac-Dune Entertainment
What We Thought

Franco is both heartbreaking and hysterical, portraying a man who is so steadfastly different yet seeks broad appeal.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
“I never thought I’d say this, but that was the worst fucking thing I’ve seen—thank you!”  a friend told me after experiencing a midnight screening of The Room, a film is celebrated as “The Citizen Kane of Bad Movies.”  The film gets everything wrong from A to Z, and yet it’s nothing short of hysterical because it is so very bad and so very bizarre.  The Disaster Artist is about how that movie came to be.
     The film is based on Greg Sestero’s 2013 memoir The Disaster Artist:  My Life Inside the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made (that’s no hyperbole, I assure you), which was written with Tom Bissell, who’s seen the film no less than 100 times.  The screenplay by 500 Days of Summer scribes Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter takes liberties with the facts of what actually happened on the set of The Room, but stays faithful to a story about Hollywood dreams, close friendships, and unmitigated disaster.  Whatever you see depicted in The Disaster Artist, the production was much, much worse.
     Dave Franco portrays Greg, an aspiring young actor who’s terrified to be on stage.  Tommy is not.  He’s terrible, he’s weird-looking, and he’s determined to be the next James Dean.  One night, they drive together to the place where Dean died on Route 46, and pledge to each other to become big Movie Stars.  In an ironic way, they succeeded spectacularly.
     James Franco plays Tommy Wiseau, in what is one of the best performances this year.  Franco is both heartbreaking and hysterical, portraying a man who is so steadfastly different yet seeks broad appeal.  Not only does she he perfectly impersonate Wiseau’s off-key manner of speech and oddly timed social laughs, he uses the character as a channel for own his passion for acting.  In that respect, he is very much like Wiseau himself.
     After months of the rejection that thousands of actors go through each year, it becomes clear.  Tommy is not going to make it.  “Why don’t we just make our own movie?” Greg proposes.  “That’s great idea,” Tommy replies in a thick accent, and goes on to write, produce, direct, and star in The Room, a story of love and betrayal, seemingly about a narcissistic Count Dracula impersonator with Asperger’s Syndrome named Johnny who’s “future-wife” Lisa has an affair with his best friend Mark, who’s portrayed by Greg.  A weird and narratively extraneous kid named Denny, who has an Oedipal complex, pops in from time-to-time, as does a drug-dealer named “Chris-R,” as well as a random guy with no name nor explanation as to why he should be there who is portrayed by an actor as wooden as petrified oak who opines on Johnny’s interpersonal relationships (the original actor was replaced halfway through production), among other characters and unresolved subplots, and I haven’t even explained the stock photos of spoons yet.
     The camera is often out-of-focus.  Digital and film cameras are used interchangeably throughout the film, though that is not filmmaking convention.  “I did not hit her, it’s bullshit, I did not hit her, I did nyaat,” is a line that took Tommy over 60 takes to complete, which The Disaster Artist chronicles.  The Room is a case study in how not to make a movie or anything else.
     And I write that with the deepest affection.  A signed autograph DVD copy of The Room is among my most cherished possessions.  I will loan out the DVD, but not the signed cover.  I remember the very day I got up on stage at a 2013 midnight screening with Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau in attendance, who asked that we have a question for each of them.  “I have a stupid comment…what should I do with it?” I asked Greg.  “You should keep it in your pocket,” he replied flatly.  It was his favorite line in the film, and I knew it.  The crowd laughed.
     I loved The Disaster Artist, not just as tribute to that film, but as a fine film unto itself.  Franco exaggerates Wiseau’s peculiarities for comedic effect, but also explores his isolation and loneliness.  “Why didn’t you come here before?” Greg asks Tommy about an L.A. apartment he already owned, yet didn’t inhabit.  “I didn’t have anyone to come with.”  Tommy responds.  “Aw,” The audience at my screening replied, but I don’t think the reaction was just sympathy. It was  empathy.  I think we’ve all been there.  We’re all a little weird.  5 stars.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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