In 2003, the movie The Room was released in an extremely limited run and to terrible reviews. But eventually it became a modern cult “classic” and legitimately successful. I first heard about The Room many years ago from online video reviewer Allison Pregler (under the name Obscurus Lupa), who was known for reviewing weird, obscure and campy movies. I cannot recommend The Room enough — it is a hilarious triumph of terrible, the modern day Plan 9 From Outer Space.
The Disaster Artist comes from director James Franco, adapted from the book of the same name by Greg Sestero (who starred in The Room) and Tom Bissell, which is the behind the scenes tale of the movie and men who created it. James Franco stars as the legendary weirdo Tommy Wiseau, and Dave Franco plays Greg Sestero, a handsome wannabe actor in San Francisco who struggles with “making it.”
The two meet in 1998 at an acting class, forming an instant connection about their shared love of acting. Sure, Greg is a bit stiled and unsure, but he’s got a good heart and a great head of hair. Tommy has a mysterious Eastern European accent and is of unknown age, but he supports Greg in his passion.
After the two become closer, they decide to move to LA — and it turns out Tommy mysteriously has his own place there they can share and plenty of money from mysterious sources. After failure after failure, Tommy gets a crazy idea — make their own movie, funded somehow by him. But Tommy doesn’t have any idea about how to make a movie, and thus, the hilarious, insane process begins.
Tommy acts as the producer, director, screenwriter, and lead actor in magnum opus, a dark drama about All American man Johnny, played by Tommy himself. He gets Greg to join as Johnny’s best friend, and they further hire the whole gang. There’s the script supervisor (Seth Rogen), a competent workhorse who knows how crazy it all is, the DP played by Paul Scheer who has real problems with Tommy’s methods, and Juliette (played by Ari Graynor), the young ingénue with a truly terribly written girlfriend character.
The amazing thing about the movie is that it feels real, and although it’s based on a true story, that doesn’t always mean anything. Tommy has a real passion for filmmaking, but he’s also wildly incompetent. He’s also severely jealous of Greg’s new girlfriend (played by Allison Brie), leading to further friction between the two friends.
Anyone familiar with The Room knows where the story is going, but even if you don’t, the movie is hilarious and at times, actually kind of moving. James Franco is a revelation as Tommy, playing all the verbal and physical tics perfectly with the indecipherable accent. The movie does one of those things I always appreciate, giving us time to figure things out on our own.
It’s a great ensemble of comedic talent in the movie, although the standout other than James Franco is Seth Rogen, who has the perfect dry delivery for his put-upon professional production role. I think that seeing The Room or at least being familiar will help you appreciate this movie more, and you’ll certainly laugh more. There are a lot of references that don’t seem real, that seem impossible, but it’s all true.
Before the credits, a wonderful montage is shown comparing the actors from this film to scenes from the original movie. And although all the guys here are great, James Franco is legitimately doing perhaps his best work ever. Taking the very odd real life character of Tommy Wiseau and making him relatable, that’s a true legendary work of genius.
I think Dave Franco does well here too, although he doesn’t have a role of as much complexity. Greg inherently is a pretty normal guy, so the better parts of his performance are during the more emotional scenes. The guy is a comedy, and it is very funny. I do recommend seeking out The Room first, it will enhance the viewing experience by a lot, but after you do, then check out The Disaster Artist. It’s one of the best of the year.
Want to see The Disaster Artist and judge for yourself? Click on the images below to buy your tickets now, and be sure to come back and tell us what you thought!
The Disaster Artist has a run time of 1 hour 44 minutes and is rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity.