Tommy Wiseau’s The Room is a cultural phenomenon. It is an absolutely horrendous movie, from the acting to the writing all the way through the production. This movie should have been forgotten about after it’s original two week run in theaters. Yet here we are seventeen years later, still talking about it. People love this movie. Every year, midnight screenings still sell out. Greg Sestero, one of the actors, wrote a best selling book on the movie. Now, James Franco has made a very well-done movie about the making of the worst movie of all time – The Disaster Artist.
When the young and hopeful Greg Sestero meets the oddly eccentric Tommy Wiseau in acting class, the two form a unqiue bond and travel to Hollywood together to chase their dreams.
If anyone was going to make this movie, it almost had to have been James Franco. His career as an actor and director share a common thread with Wiseau’s. While Franco has found success, some of his indie projects and his painting career have been met with a great deal of criticism. He easily inhabited to the role of a misunderstood artist, and not just because of the strange accent.
Franco’s role is easily the standout quality of the movie. It is eerie how similar to the real life Tommy Franco’s performance is. From the make up to the gait of his walk, Franco convincingly became the man himself. He has had some great roles, but this may be one of the defining performance of his career. It would be almost criminal for him not to get nominated for an Oscar.
Dave Franco also stars in the film as Greg Sestero (the first time the Franco brothers have appeared in a movie together I might add). He plays Greg well, selling the determined and hopeful young actor. However, it’s obvious he didn’t have to get to out of his comfort zone (except maybe when he’s watching his brother strut naked around set). He is pretty much playing Dave here, which starkly contrasts with the vivid performance his brother gives. The rest of the cast features actors like Seth Rogen and Paul Scheer, who plays member of the production crew for The Room, and their performances really sell just how bizarre it must have been to work on this movie.
I will say it’s not totally necessary for anyone who hasn’t seen The Room to watch it before seeing this movie. The story is compelling enough to stand on its own. At its core, the movie is about two friends chasing their dreams together. The heart and humor that journey entails is enough for the movie itself. The added antics of the famed production and all the references to the original movie are just extra. Plus Franco shot a good 30 minutes of recreated footage that is pretty damn spot on to the source material.
I had the luxury of diving down the rabbit hole of information on The Room and Tommy Wiseau the month before I saw this film. After going to a screening of The Room, I immediately bought the book and ate up every bit of information I could find online. This movie does not have every detail from the book, like parts of the beginning of their friendship are glossed over that would have made for some great conflict on screen. However, the movie is a good starting place for anyone who wants to dive in on the craziness behind The Room.
The movie isn’t perfect. James Franco is not a totally seasoned director, but he understands the source material and does it justice. Some have described this as a vanity project, whereas I see it as something only he could properly do. Movies about movie making tend to do well with the Academy, and I think Franco will score a nomination for his performance and maybe one for adapted screenplay. Wouldn’t it be quite the story for the worst movie ever made through some round about way end up winning the Oscar for Best Picture?
The Disaster Artist is a great film. It’s a human story with a lot of humor and heart. While it does it’s service to the fan culture surrounding The Room, it doesn’t rely on the movie to succeed. It’s not a perfect retelling on the accounts of making that movie, but it is entertaining to see some of those scenes play out on screen. The movie is worth seeing for Franco’s performance as the mysterious Tommy Wiseau alone.
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