The Disaster Artist (2017)

  • Time: 98 min
  • Genre: Biography | Comedy | Drama
  • Director: James Franco
  • Cast: James Franco, Dave Franco, Zoey Deutch, Eliza Coupe, Alison Brie, Lizzy Caplan


When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

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  • Dubbed the Citizen Kane of bad movies, The Room is a prime example of how everything done wrong can somehow result in most everything going least eventually and not in the way originally intended. The film was the brainchild of one Tommy Wiseau – whose origin, age and source of income remain a complete mystery – who wrote, directed, produced, and starred in a film where continuity barely existed, if at all, dialogue reached new heights of awfulness, acting was cringingly terrible, and was just an absolute mess from its first second to its last. Unsurprisingly, it made $1800 against its reported $6 million budget. Yet, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Room has become a cult hit since its release, selling out midnight screenings and turning in quite the profit.

    The Disaster Artist, based on the memoir by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell, is a loving tribute to the gloriously craptastic film and its Ed Wood-like auteur that also serves as a vehicle for one of James Franco’s best performances. Serving as producer and director, Franco stars as Wiseau, first introduced as he delivers a genuinely bizarro scene in an acting class attended by Sestero (Dave Franco). Sestero, a 19-year-old aspiring actor, is impressed with Wiseau’s fearlessness and the two soon strike up a friendship, vowing to always push each other, believe in each other, and never forget their dream of making it big in Hollywood.

    The mysterious Wiseau, whose appearance is part-vampire, part-Fabio and part-pirate, convinces Sestero to move out to Los Angeles and be his roommate. The pair’s enthusiasm is soon eroded by the endless round of rejections, but they resolve to keep at it. Sestero wishes they could make their own movie, and his offhand remark gives Wiseau an idea – why not make their own movie! Thus he crafts the screenplay for The Room, casts himself and Sestero as leads, and assures Sestero that he has the money to make it. From thereon in, it’s a ceaseless parade of inanity and senselessness. Wiseau buys the equipment of merely renting it like most others do, decides to shoot both on film and on digital even though it means twice the shooting time and twice the crew, creates or green screens sets when actual locations are available. When it comes time to shoot the first scene in which he appears – the infamous “Oh hi, Mark” rooftop moment – he keeps forgetting his lines to the point where every person on set recites the lines back to him.

    Part of the delight of The Disaster Artist, for both hardcore fans of The Room and the totally uninitiated, are Franco’s meticulous recreations of The Room’s best worst moments, whether it be Wiseau’s inexplicable decision to have his character laugh at a story of a girl getting beat up or the unsexy sex scenes where Wiseau’s character is thrusting against his partner’s belly button. Franco couldn’t be more perfect, nailing Wiseau’s weird laugh and placeless accent but also Wiseau’s swerves from childlike enthusiasm to uncaring dictator to spurned lover, the latter occurring when Sestero gently breaks the news that he’s moving out of their apartment to move in with his girlfriend (Alison Brie). There’s a homoerotic undercurrent to Wiseau and Sestero’s relationship – at one point, Wiseau professes that he made the film for Sestero – as well as a hint of Sunset Boulevard, where a young man is swept up in the orbit of an eccentric figure.

    As a making-of account of The Room, The Disaster Artist hits all the right beats, though it doesn’t necessarily offer any details that haven’t already been documented elsewhere. Though it doesn’t exactly offer much insight into the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau, it succeeds as a valentine to a man who most definitely marched to the beat of his own drum.

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