The Disaster Artist
by Hope Madden
There is genuine affection in James Franco’s The Disaster Artist, a behind-the-scenes biopic that gets inside the making of the best bad movie of all time.
Yes, The Room is the best—better than Plan 9 from Outer Space and Trolls 2. They’re in the same league because The Room is what these “classics” are – a simply god-awful movie made with such unpredictable creative vision that you cannot help but be amazed. It’s just that The Room has it in greater abundance.
It’s also a story of Hollywood dreams coming true, as well as a lovely tale of friendship. And, of course, a glimpse at one of the most unusual men in film, Tommy Wiseau.
In 2003, Wiseau released The Room, a film he wrote, produced, directed, financed and starred in. Not particularly well.
Almost fifteen years later, The Room has seen cult adoration the likes few besides Rocky Horror would ever see. Because it is awful. So, so gloriously awful.
Directing his 19th feature (!!), Franco seems to have finally found a subject that suits his sensibilities, filling the screen not with vicious mockery as much as awe.
Jacki Weaver is magnificent as a baffled actor trying to do quality work. Zac Efron also turns in a startlingly solid performance – not because Efron is not usually solid, he is – but because this film doesn’t call for that kind of commitment. And Josh Hutcherson is a hoot in a bad, bad wig.
Franco’s performance as Wiseau is uncanny, and mercifully, his film doesn’t attempt to uncover the mystery behind this genuinely unusual creature. As future bestie (and author of the book on which the film is based) Greg, Dave Franco sets the mood almost immediately.
Recently embarrassed by his own stage fright during an acting class performance, Greg sits mesmerized by Wiseau’s writhing, prop-climbing onstage “Stella!” Where the rest of the class looks away in embarrassment, Greg soaks it in.
It strikes a sweet balance between embarrassment and affection that the film maintains throughout—one that not only allows us to embrace this freakish figure at the center of the film but mirrors the very emotion that has made The Room a lasting cult joy.
If you worry you won’t be able to follow The Disaster Artist without seeing The Room, two things: 1) Franco rolls scenes from both movies side by side to give you context and point out that this movie is no spoof. 2) Go see The Room!