Nick has a deep interest in film and cinema, dreaming of one day being a successful film pundit.
I Did Naht Hit Her. It’s Not True!
Oh hi, readers! The Disaster Artist is a biographical comedy directed by James Franco, also starring James Franco, Dave Franco and Seth Rogen. The film is based on the true story of writer/director/actor/producer Tommy Wiseau (played by James Franco), the man behind what most people consider the worst movie ever made: The Room. The Room has gained a cult following since its 2003 release, and is hailed as one of the best worst movies of all time for being so bad that it’s actually hilarious. In The Disaster Artist, a young man named Greg (Dave Franco) has dreams of being a successful Hollywood actor, and, upon meeting the mysterious Tommy Wiseau, decides to move to Los Angeles with him to pursue his dream. Greg ends up being Tommy’s roommate and co-lead in their own movie, The Room, where film takes us on a journey behind the scenes, through all the drama, laughs and ‘WTF’s, as this legendarily bad movie is being produced.
Coming off very positive reviews since its premiere at the SXSW Film Festival, The Disaster Artist marks the first time brothers James and Dave Franco appear in a movie together. With a distributor like A24, known for the unique slate of films under their banner, as well as frequent James Franco collaborator Seth Rogen on board as script supervisor Sandy Schklair, there’s a lot to be excited about here. With all the signs pointing toward a great moviegoing experience, is The Disaster Artist really the comedy we were all hoping for? Or does it need to “get out, get out, get out of our lives?!”
We got the results of the test back. Unlike The Room, The Disaster Artist succeeds in being funny while also being executed with precision and skill. Telling the story of Tommy and Greg’s first encounter all the way up to the night of The Room’s premiere, the film is filled with tons of laughs, mostly involving the seemingly over-the-top (but almost accurate) performance of James Franco as Tommy Wiseau. But in addition to the laughs, the film surprisingly has a lot of heart, and is really a buddy story about two individuals trying to lift themselves (and each other) up in a saturated movie industry. The film astoundingly recreates many of the iconic scenes from The Room, but though it’s an amazing feeling to see familiar actors acting as other real-life actors in a good movie about a bad movie, I can’t help but feel that the experience was significantly enhanced by having already seen The Room. Thus, I’d recommend this film to anyone who has already seen The Room, or anyone who doesn’t mind good comedies with strong references to its source material.
What A Story, Mark!
Let’s talk about James Franco, who is easily the most noticeable actor in The Disaster Artist. At risk of sounding very offensive to Tommy Wiseau himself, Franco nails Wiseau’s unusual accent and reported demeanour. Already well-known for his comedic roles, Franco takes it a step further in this film, enveloping himself into Wiseau’s unique personality, while also juggling his directing duties fairly well. It’s easy to tell that a lot of Franco’s care and passion was behind the camera as well as in front of it, and the director deserves big props for holding the film itself back from a point of being ridiculous and disrespectful. Dave Franco’s performance as Greg Sestero is also good, but his lead performance (the film is based on the real Greg Sestero’s book of the same name) is unfortunately overshadowed by his brother’s. The film is filled with great cameos and supporting roles, the funniest of which is probably Josh Hutcherson’s, as he plays the innocent but blissfully ignorant actor who portrayed Denny in The Room.
The hilarity of The Disaster Artist stems from a combination of smart writing as well as the face-palming ridiculousness of Tommy Wiseau, both of which had the audience laughing hard and often. Part of the film’s amusing novelty is its hybrid documentary-comedy-biopic style, which keeps viewers engaged as well as entertained. But the film also does a spectacular job of humanising the people involved with making The Room. The film doesn’t want you to see a bunch of people who are terrible at their jobs, resulting in the schadenfreude that we all expect to come from their movie-making. It asks the viewer to empathise with the workers, dreamers and believers who have goals and meaningful relationships. People who value loyalty, ambition, and just the very prospect of being involved in filmmaking. Yes, Tommy Wiseau’s misguided direction was never going to make The Room great. But the story behind this cult favourite is so intriguing because of it, and the writers did well to give the film a light and optimistic tone, in line with the brighter-side-of-life mentality the characters adopt.
Everybody Betrayed Me. I Fed Up With This World!
One inherent flaw with The Disaster Artist is that it borrows so much from The Room, such that one really needs to watch The Room first in order to truly appreciate the genius behind The Disaster Artist. This doesn’t mean that The Disaster Artist can’t stand on its own and be enjoyed as a film, but it’s just one of those movies that would be much better when seen after watching The Room, as opposed to the other way round. The cast for this film is also quite large, and the bulk focus on the Franco brothers' characters mean that not as much time can be spent developing the other supporting characters, who I would have liked to see more of. Still, this is a more of a nitpick, and other than one slightly heavy-handed scene, the rest of the film has a sound footing on what it wants to be.
A good film from a brilliant idea. It’s not the kind of comedy that pulls on the heartstrings, but the kind that balances the right kind of funny with the right amount of character. A passionate team, good writers and an Academy-level performance from James Franco did the project a lot of favours, and I can see The Disaster Artist being rewatched multiple times by members of The Room cult. For maximum effect, treat yourself and watch The Room (not family-friendly) before you watch The Disaster Artist. Otherwise, sit back and just enjoy real-life comedy being recreated on the big screen. The movie deserves all the plaudits it’s getting, and though we can only leave our stupid comments in our pockets for now, one can only fantasise about the prospect of Tommy Wiseau one day standing on the Oscars stage, presenting an award or even receiving one, his big Hollywood dream fulfilled.
Overall Score: 8.4/10