How can Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” become such a cult favorite? That question will never be apparent to me, but the new film directed by and starring James Franco, “The Disaster Artist,” captures the hilarity and ridiculousness with impeccable precision. Seeing “The Room” or at least most of it (I never made it all the way through after three attempts) is a must before seeing “The Disaster Artist.” Hate “The Room” or love it, Franco’s reenactment of how this film was born and who the actors are, what they went through, and the inside scoop from every angle makes this a breakout film of the year.
Screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber adapt the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell. The all-star cast couldn’t more accurately portray and seemingly become the main characters, Tommy (James Franco), Greg (Dave Franco), Juliette (Ari Graynor), Carolyn, the mother (Jacki Weaver), and Dan (Zac Efron). In addition, the behind the scenes actors are just as high profile including Alison Brie, Josh Hutcherson, Megan Mullally, Seth Rogan, and many, many more. It’s obvious that the cult following must include all of these huge names in Hollywood as each of them truly shine in their respective roles.
The film has an actual story-line and narrative arc, unlike what I saw in “The Room.” We meet Tommy (James Franco) and Greg (Dave Franco), both struggling actors who connect in a hilarious acting class lead by none other than Brett Gelman. Greg’s admiration for this bizarre classmate and his lack of inhibitions connect the two and they move to L.A. together in search of making it big. As they get to know each other, Tommy’s exceedingly strange behavior, at times mimicking someone who has had brain trauma, lands him as an outcast in L.A. With an limitless bank account from who knows where and how, Tommy writes a screenplay and casts his best friend Greg in the film. The two embark upon what would be forever loved, for unknown reasons, as “The Room.”
“The Disaster Artist” is an unexpectedly funny and meaningful film as there is insight and discovery about a man who only wants to be loved…no matter how much it costs him. He has found a friend in Greg and to Tommy, that is priceless, but he doesn’t understand relationships and basic interactions which causes more than hurt feelings. James Franco’s portrayal of Tommy gives this unusual man depth and allows us to see the world from his very skewed viewpoint.
It’s also wonderfully entertaining and at times petrifying to see how the filming of “The Room” took place. Rogan as the cameraman Sandy Schklair states the obvious in many situations accentuating the unmistakable errors in filmmaking and ironically idiotic situations at hand. As Tommy becomes volatile, hostile, and unpredictable, the cast and crew band together, seeing with their own eyes a film that will never be seen…or so they hoped.
“The Disaster Artist” is an unexpected treasure, making you laugh out loud constantly while feeling guilty for doing so as the main character obviously is misunderstood, bordering on pathetic at times, and has some issues that perhaps have never been identified. There’s a certain sadness as you find the main point of the film is friendship and a longing to belong without an ability of how to do this. It’s quite obvious that all of the cast of Franco’s film love what they were doing as the performances are captivating and eerily accurate when looking at scenes from the original film. Speaking of, be sure to stick around for the credits where side by side scenes are shown from both films. This, is just the icing on the proverbial cake and allows you to see what I have just described.
There’s not a weak link in this film with great acting and impersonations, remarkable direction, and writing that takes a stranger than fiction story and brings it to living color. Will the real Tommy Wiseau be able to handle what this film shows as he is somehow made an inadvertent comedic success from “The Room?”
Get ready for one of the most fun films of 2017, but remember, you really need to see (at least part of) “The Room” before you go.
3 1/2 Stars (4 possible) (only if you’ve seen “The Room”)