- Tristan Shaw
The Disaster Artist (2017)
Title: The Disaster Artist (2017)
Director: James Franco
Stars: Dave Franco, James Franco, Seth Rogen
Bias: I believe The Room (2003) is arguably the best worst movie of the past two decades.
In a Nutshell:
Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is a shy, 19-year-old guy who wants to be an actor. One night, in his acting class, Greg watches a bold classmate named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) perform a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. Tommy’s bizarre performance is ridiculed by the class, but Greg is intrigued by his openness, and soon the two aspiring actors become friends.
Tommy is eccentric, mysterious, and a tad bit creepy. He speaks in a heavy Eastern European accent, but insists that he was born in New Orleans. He refuses to tell anybody his real age, and he’s also (somehow) incredibly rich. When Tommy offers to let Greg stay at his apartment in Los Angeles, Greg jumps at the chance, determined to make it big in Hollywood with his best friend.
Unfortunately, without talent or connections, Greg and Tommy have a hard time breaking into acting. Frustrated, Tommy decides to make his own movie, a tragic drama about a successful banker, his unhappy fiancee, and his best friend. After recruiting a cast and crew, and giving Greg a leading role, Tommy sets out to create what goes on to become one of the worst movies of all-time: The Room.
When I heard James Franco would be directing Greg Sestero’s book about the making of The Room, I have to admit I was worried. Franco’s earlier outings as a director- a painful 2005 “comedy” featuring a talking ape in a Hawaiian shirt, and some lackluster William Faulkner adaptations- had me convinced Franco would make a movie as nearly as awful as its subject matter, though without any of the humor or fun.
I’m happy to report the exact opposite: The Disaster Artist is captivating and hilarious, and very intentionally so. The Franco brothers give excellent performances, and James in particular nails his role as Tommy Wiseau, copying every little detail of the world’s worst auteur right down to his indeterminate accent.
While fans of The Room will probably get the most out of the movie, the acting and script help it stand firmly on its own. It’s a lovely tribute to a cult classic, but also an ode to ambitious outsiders like Wiseau, who, despite the great odds, make their dreams come true. The end product might have been terrible in this case, but as The Disaster Artist points out, Wiseau succeeds in a way, making a whole lot of people happy and appreciative of his art.
Choice Quote: “It’s not true! I did not hit her! It’s bullshit! I did nooooot- Oh, hi, Mark!”
To Go, to Rent, or to Netflix:
The Disaster Artist deserves a trip to the theater, ideally on a double screening with The Room.