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The Disaster Artist (2017)

Josh Reviews The Disaster Artist

December 25th, 2017
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James Franco’s The Disaster Artist chronicles the making of The Room, the 2003 film that is widely regarded as one of the worst movies ever made.  The Disaster Artist is based on Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s book of the same name, which depicts the unlikely friendship between the young Sestero and the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, who would up bankrolling, directing, and starring in The Room, in which Mr. Sestero played a lead part.  The Room was a disastrous flop upon release; showing in one single theatre in L.A. for two weeks.  But gradually, word of mouth began to spread (aided, perhaps, by Mr. Wiseau’s decision to continue paying for the film’s one prominent billboard, featuring a now iconic close-up of his face, for five years!), and eventually the film gained a cult following and became beloved among a certain cadre of fans despite, or perhaps because of, its being so bad.

It’s incredible to me that, a decade after The Room was first screened, there is now a big-budget Hollywood movie telling the behind-the-scenes story of that film’s creation!  But here we are.  James Franco and his team have treated Mr. Wiseau and Mr. Sestero and The Room in a similar manner to how Tim Burton treated Ed Wood in his film of the same name.  There’s no doubt that The Disaster Artist presents Tommy Wiseau as something of a punchline.  If I was Mr. Wiseau, I would not be thrilled with this depiction.  But the film also has a lot of tenderness for Mr. Wiseau and Mr. Sestero, and for anyone who sets out to create art.

I suppose it could be argued that Mr. Wiseau and Mr. Sestero were more interested in becoming stars than in making art.  Those two things are quite different from one another.  But I think a large part of why The Disaster Artist works as well as it does is because of the way the film pulls you into rooting for these weirdos, these outsiders.  Anyone who has ever felt the desire to create art, who has ever felt like an outsider looking in, will find a lot to engage with in this film.

The film is also very, very funny.  Mr. Franco has assembled an incredible cast, and he gives everyone room to shine.

Let’s start with Mr. Franco himself, who is wonderful and hilarious as Tommy Wiseau.  Underneath some subtle prosthetics and an amazing wig (at least, I assume it’s a wig!), Mr. Franco has utterly morphed into Mr. Wiseau.  And then he opens his mouth!  Mr. Franco has done a fantastic job at capturing Mr. Wiseau’s bizarre, unique, unidentifiable accent.  This is an incredible transformation.  But as with the … [continued]