The Room is one of the most well-known “so bad its good films”, maybe the most famous of all. It was written, directed, produced, and stars Tommy Wiseau and co-stars his friend Greg Sestero. It’s an incompetently made, but very sincere, melodrama about the downfall of a man and deterioration of his relationships. After it’s 2003 release the film became a cult hit. In 2013 Sestero helped write a book that chronicled the production of The Room called The Disaster Artist. Now in 2017 James Franco has directed, produced and starred in an adaption of that book.
The Disaster Artist is told from the perspective of Greg, a nervous young actor hopping to someday make it in Hollywood. He is taking acting classes in San Francisco where he meets Tommy. Tommy is not a skilled actor, but has loads of confidence, which Greg admires. Greg approaches Tommy to do a scene together for their class, after which they quickly become friends. Tommy’s confidence inspires Greg to be more comfortable with his acting. But Greg is also forced to deal with Tommy’s eccentric behavior. They form a pact to become big stars together and move to Tommy’s apartment in Los Angeles.
Tommy is a very mysterious figure. He has a nice car, an apartment in San Francisco and LA, but doesn’t have a job. His accent is thick and strange, European sounding, but he insists he is from New Orleans. He also never settles for anything less than exactly what he wants, and is especially attached to Greg.
After moving to LA the movie covers Tommy and Greg’s lives as they attempt to become stars through agents and auditions. When this doesn’t work out they decided to make their own film. From here we witness the trials and tribulations of the cast as they deal with Tommy’s awkward behavior and ineptitude at film-making.
The Disaster Artist is a comedy but it lacks traditional jokes. Most of the humor stems from Tommy’s various eccentricities in behavior and language. This is highlighted by the large number of cameo appearances of famous comedians, who take on the roles of various members of the production staff. None of these cameo’s come with any funny lines or jokes, they are just the normal people who fell into the weird world of Tommy Wiseau.
Despite Tommy’s antics being the primary source of humor, I don’t feel like the film was making fun of him. His behavior is presented as is, with no judgement from the film. Watch any interview with the real man and you will see that Franco’s portrayal is not exaggerated. Characters tend to react with either bewilderment, shock, or they try to ignore his weirdness if they are used to him. It isn’t until his actions become harmful that people start to confront him.
The Disaster Artist is not the first dramatization of the creation of a famous bad film. This film is preceded by Tim Burton’s Ed Wood as the portrait of a misguided director and his film. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen that film, but it would be interesting to compare the two.
I really enjoyed The Disaster Artist. Franco’s portrayal is spot on in mannerisms and especially appearance. It’s a very funny film, but it relies on the audience having seen The Room. There are a lot of references to that film, and The Disaster Artist even ends with comparisons of the original and remade scenes. This sends a clear message that The Disaster Artist was made by fans of The Room for fans of The Room. If you’re a fan of the cult classic you will enjoy this new film. If you’ve seen The Room and don’t get all the hubbub, avoid the new film. For those of you who haven’t seen The Room, check it out, they didn’t make a movie about a movie for no reason.