If there's anyone out there that knows a thing or two about about terrible movies (“The Adderall Diaries,” “Your Highness”), it's James Franco.
So, perhaps it's only fitting then that when it came time to make a movie about the making of the “Citizen Kane of bad movies,” that Franco would be the man for the job.
Paul Scheer, Seth Rogen and James Franco in “The Disaster Artist.” (Photo by Justina Mintz, courtesy of A24)
In “The Disaster Artist,” Franco stars as Tommy Wiseau the real life “actor” and “filmmaker” responsible for the 2003 theatrical abomination, “The Room.”
Tommy is a mysterious, and utterly ridiculous, actor that is befriended by young actor Greg (Dave Franco), who wants to overcome his shyness and believes Tommy can help him do so. The two become fast friends and move together to Hollywood, where they set out to conquer the movie industry.
Success, however, eludes the duo as, well, they're actually pretty awful at their craft.
In order to find the success they feel they deserve, they decide to make their own movie … even though they might be even more clueless about filmmaking than they are about acting.
Dave Franco as Greg and James Franco as Tommy in “The Disaster Artist.” (Photo by Justina Mintz, courtesy of A24)
The first thing you should know about “The Disaster Artist” is that while certain things will make more sense if you've seen “The Room,” it isn't a prerequisite. Franco, who also directs, does an incredible job of not only bringing Tommy (and his “Room” character, Johnny) to life, but he also paints a wonderfully entertaining look into the ineptitude that it took to create a movie so incredibly bad that the only way it's worth watching is in a room full of strangers armed with plastic spoons and miniature footballs … I'm not even close to joking.
And don't worry, if you do happen see “The Disaster Artist” beforehand the plot won't be spoiled because “The Room” is completely devoid of anything resembling plot. Somehow, despite that fact, “The Room” is immensely popular in some circles.
Which leads nicely into what I think two of the biggest takeaways from Wiseau's story are: following your dreams and remaining true to your friends.
If Franco's take on the events are to be believed, Tommy was told repeatedly that the he had no chance of making it in the movies and he had even less business making his own movie. However, he followed his dream, kept his word to Greg, and they made their movie. And, despite the overwhelming disaster it initially proved to be, here we are more than a decade later and people are still talking about him and his movie. There has to be a lesson in there somewhere.
James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in “The Disaster Artist.” (Photo by Justina Mintz, courtesy of A24)
The second thing to know about the film is that it's some of Franco's best work to date. The guy's prolific (I mean, seriously, look at his IMDB credits), but recently that hasn't translated into quality. This time, though, he's funny, he's accurate (watch dual interviews with him and Tommy), and he took this unbelievable story and not only made it entertaining, but he made it interesting.
Tommy Wiseau is a an interesting and/or really weird character, and his rise to semi-prominence is even more interesting and/or weird. And if anyone was born to tell this story, it's James Franco … who might actually be a modern-day Tommy Wiseau.
★★★★ of ★★★★★