Movie Review: “The Disaster Artist”
The Disaster Artist
Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is a struggling, young, aspiring actor in the late 1990s. He wants to move to Hollywood to pursue a career of acting but fears he will never have the funds to do so. As an actor, Greg gets very shy and nervous on stage. He is afraid to put himself out there, but then he watches an in-class performance by one of his classmates, Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). Greg did not know it at the time, but that performance would change his life forever.
Tommy Wiseau is a mysterious social outcast with an extremely unorthodox style, but Greg sees that he is a fearless performer. In the hopes of adopting some of Tommy’s fearlessness, Greg introduces himself to the enigma and learns that they share a very similar dream. This sparks a strong friendship that leads the two to Hollywood where Tommy, ultimately, decides that (if Hollywood does not want to give them a shot) they will simply make their own movie. Little do they realize, their movie would one day be known in the film industry as “the worst movie ever made.” This is the story of how that film came to be.
The Pros and Cons
James Franco (+10pts)
The Setup (-3pts)
Dave Franco (+5pts)
The Climax (-4pts)
Tommy Wiseau (+6pts)
Pro: James Franco (+10pts)
This film’s biggest draw proves to be its biggest strength. James Franco proves, once again, that he has a brilliant comedic mind and is a phenomenal dramatic performer. This guy is very funny, but absolutely transforms into Tommy Wiseau. This is not the first time James Franco has transformed himself into his character but this may be his best work.
Sure, he still looks like James Franco, but audiences will very quickly be able to see (only) Tommy Wiseau. James Franco hits the comedy and the drama flawlessly while giving the character heart and making the audience pity him. Tommy Wiseau is an extraordinary person with so many complex layers, and it takes a uniquely talented actor to pull off this role while making audiences sympathize with this (at times) unlikable character. James Franco is that actor.
Con: The Setup (-3pts)
I, unfortunately, felt like the film rushed through the setup. This is a very fascinating story, but it is a tough one for people to wrap their heads around. Greg is a young, aspiring actor who meets the mysterious Tommy Wiseau. Tommy tells Greg that he has an apartment in Hollywood and the two decide to move in together. As far as the time within the movie, I am guessing that Greg and Tommy had known each other for a few weeks. For the audience, they barely knew each other for thirty minutes.
Now I do not think that the film needed to spend more screentime on the setup, because I appreciate a concise film that does not drag it out, but I did not feel like Tommy and Greg’s friendship was strong enough to justify Greg uprooting his life and moving in with a much older stranger. This was not a major issue, as I got over it pretty quickly, but I felt like there was room for improvement in the film’s setup. If this was given a bit more attention, the filmmakers could have made the setup feel more natural (or as natural as possible when dealing with Tommy Wiseau).
Pro: Dave Franco (+5pts)
Dave Franco is a decent actor but, in my opinion, his is essentially the opposite of his brother. James Franco is able to transform and become the embodiment of his character, while Dave Franco always feels like he is playing himself. This film is no different as he feels like the same person he plays in every movie. This all being said, Dave Franco was a great character for this film.
Dave Franco is relatable and is a talented actor who is able to hit all of the necessary emotions of his character. This film takes place over a long period of time and Dave Franco is able to convey his character’s changing mindset effectively and naturally. He is able to convey his character’s emotion to the audience and allows the audience to share that emotion. There is also the bonus of having great on-screen chemistry his brother. Dave Franco plays Dave Franco, but the film definitely benefits from having the talented actor.
Con: The Climax (-4pts)
I liked a lot about this movie but I felt like the ending of the film was a bit anti-climactic. This film is all about the making of The Room, but the film is also about the friendship between Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau. The structure of the film is the making of the movie. That is the backbone that keeps the characters going, but the film is really about the friendship. All the emotion, comedy, and depth come from these characters. This is a character story where the making of The Room is just the crazy situation that the characters are in.
The reason I say all of this is to explain that the film focuses heavily on the character’s friendship, but the climax assumes that the audience is in on the inside joke, known as The Room. The film is entertaining, but we do not get to see enough of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s film. So when we see the premiere audience‘s hysterical reaction to the film, we (the audience of The Disaster Artist) feel like we are missing something. As a whole, the film works whether or not you have seen The Room. Unfortunately, If you have not seen The Room, the climax of this film could feel like you are on the outside of an inside joke.
Pro: Tommy Wiseau (+6pts)
This is an entertaining movie and most of that is due to the main character, Tommy Wiseau. This film is told from the perspective of Greg Sestero, but make no mistake, the film is about Tommy Wiseau. This man is a fascinating oddball who has a very unique personality with a past that is shrouded in mystery. No one has any idea where this guy came from, where he gets his money, or how old he is. What we do know is that he is a bad actor, has a creative mind, and has been an outcast for a very long time. He is such a complex and mysterious guy which is captivating to watch, but he is also a very lonely man which is something the audience can sympathize with. This is an intriguing and entertaining movie, and Tommy Wiseau (coupled with James Franco’s performance) is the major reason why.
Con: Focus (-5pts)
This film seemed to struggle, a bit, with its focus. On the surface, the film is all about Tommy Wiseau and the making of The Room. However, the film’s weight and emotion come from Greg Sestero and his friendship with Tommy Wiseau. The Disaster Artist seems to struggle with which concept to focus on. The film tries to balance its focus between these two concepts. The problem is, that by doing this, the film tries to do too much with too little time. It tries to make both concepts primary focal points and ended up being unable to give either the focus they deserved.
We, as an audience, are unable to truly appreciate the weight that these characters are feeling, with respect to their friendship. We are also unable to have the same visceral reaction that the characters have when viewing The Room. The film tries to focus on the chatacter’s friendship while equally focusing on the making of their film. Either would have been fine as a primary focal point, but by focusing so heavily on both, they felt a little to shallow for me to be properly invested in either.
Grade: B- (84pts)
This was an entertaining and interesting film from start to finish, but it was far from the amazing film that critics are making it out to be. If you have seen The Room then you will enjoy it more than those who have not, but this film does not ask its audience to have seen The Room so I have reviewed it as such. The film’s issues seem to come from focus issues. The film tries to focus on the making of the film and the main characters‘ friendship equally. This was a problem in the setup because the characters’ new friendship felt rushed as the film was trying to squeeze it in and get to the point where they start making their movie. This also became a problem in the end of the film. The climax of the film occurs when The Room has its premiere. The audience (in the movie) is hysterical while watching the film, but due to the shallow focus that the making of the film got, this reaction was not shared with the audiences of The Disaster Artist. It was amusing, sure, but it was not as impactful as it could have been.
James Franco is this film‘s biggest draw and ends up being way more than deserving of that title. The guy absolutely transforms into Tommy Wiseau and it is very entertaining to watch. He plays Tommy Wiseau in a very entertaining way while also getting the audience to sympathize with this fairly unlikable character. James Franco’s brother, and co-star, plays the same character he always plays, but it works for this film. Dave Franco is relatable and hits all the necessary dramatic emotions which allows the audience to put themselves in his shoes pretty easily. This film has its problems but its strengths make it an entertaining movie nonetheless. It is funny, has an interesting story, and interesting characters.