When a small movie called “The Room” hit two theaters in the Los Angeles area in 2003, no one knew what to do with the film and Tommy Wiseau, its mysterious director, writer, producer and star. Advertised as a drama, the movie seemed to ignore every fundamental rule of film-making, turning it into a hilarious reel of unrelated, chaotic and overacted scenes full of continuity errors. Nevertheless or even because of this, “The Room” gained a cult following over the years and is now on par with “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” as one of the most popular midnight screenings across the country.
In 2013, Greg Sestero, the co-star and line producer of Wiseau’s movie, wrote a book detailing his experience on the set titled “The Disaster Artist — My life inside The Room” in which James Franco has adapted into his newest film. Like Wiseau, Franco is the film’s director, producer and main actor. However, unlike “The Room,” “The Disaster Artist“ is said to create enough buzz for this year’s award season culminating in the Oscars 2018.
The talent involved had a great time filming this movie. Everyone involved was a big enthusiast of “The Room,” a fact revealed in the introduction where stars like Kristen Bell, Adam Scott and Danny McBride tell us why they are members of “The Room” cult. The film then begins, in a 1998 San Francisco where an inexperienced but ambitious actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) meets the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) at an acting class. Impressed at how blatantly ignorant Wiseau is about his acting abilities, Sestero befriends him, and eventually they move to Los Angeles to boost their non-existent careers. Since Wiseau has a bottomless bank account — also one of the mysteries around the real counterpart — he and Sestero decide to make their own movie after continuously failing their auditions. Eventually, Wiseau’s decisions as producer and director become more erratic, straining the production’s completion and the duo’s relationship.
Entirely based on real events, James Franco captures a story on celluloid that couldn’t be more fantastic. Wiseau’s denial of reality is almost impressive to behold, and Franco plays the role with an amazing precision. With a mysterious accent (the real Wiseau claims to be from New Orleans), quirky gestures and a sleepy eye, Franco practically becomes Tommy Wiseau. As a method actor, he stayed in character throughout production: Franco, playing Wiseau, is directing a film about Wiseau trying to helm a film that he will also star in, that he will also star in. You can’t get any more meta than “The Disaster Artist.”
Another example of the movie intertwining with the real world is that one of Franco’s first big movie roles was to portray James Dean in the eponymous movie. Wiseau and Sestero are obsessed with Dean and the famous “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” line is directly inspired from Dean’s line in “Rebel without a cause” and Franco is even directly mentioned in Sestero’s book.
Along the Franco brothers “The Disaster Artist” stars Seth Rogen, who backed the film as a producer. It also includes Zac Efron, Jacki Weaver, Hannibal Buress, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Alison Brie, with cameos from Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Bryan Cranston and the real Wiseau-Sestero pair. Franco leads the phenomenal cast with his best performance since “127 Hours” for which he was nominated for an Oscar. As a director he makes it look so easy in making his cast channel the level of acting in “The Room.” Only at the end of the film, when scenes from the original and “The Disaster Artist” are juxtaposed side by side, do viewers get to see the degree of precision that Franco exhibits and demands from his cast. The film also received some glorious finishing touches from the set designers, who have rebuilt the original’s green-screen sets, and the makeup and costume departments, which have recreated the original’s silly work and accurately turned Franco into the long-haired, self-proclaimed vampire Wiseau.
This movie is perfect — an unbelievable-yet-true story about film-making and friendship. Franco delivered a career-best performance on both sides of the camera. It is the funniest movie that I’ve seen in quite a while, and I can only recommend you watching this as soon as it comes out, it’s worth it!
P.S. Stay in your seats for the credits, because James Franco added a funny post-credit-scene, don’t miss it!
Overall Rating: 11/10
The Disaster Artist (2017)
directed by James Franco
written by Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
with James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Allison Brie, Jackie Weaver, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Zoey Deutch, Hanniball Buress, Josh Hutcherson, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Brian Cranston
cinematography by Brandon Trost
98 minutes, rated R