"Just because you want it doesn't mean it can happen"
When Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), as aspiring young actor, meets the weird and enigmatic Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and head to Hollywood, chasing their dreams of fame and fortune.
Much has been made of The Room in the 14 years since it was unleashed on the world. It’s risen to the meteoric heights, becoming a beloved cult film and earning the title of “best worst movie ever made”. It’s a title that is well deserved. Tommy Wiseau’s bizarre passion project is not just a bad film; it’s a perfect storm of bad. Everything that can be wrong with the film is, and in the best possible way, making it a truly unique cinematic gem that deserves to be celebrated.
It was only a matter of time Greg Sestero’s book The Disaster Artist was adapted to the big screen, bringing the fabled story of The Room’s production to a more mainstream audience. All that can be said of the recent adaptation is; thank god James Franco was behind it.
Franco could very easily be classified as a misinterpreted artist. He’s crafted projects and expressed himself in pretty much every form of art known to man, and that’s reflected in The Disaster Artist. It’s clear he has a kinship with Wiseau as a fellow misunderstood artist, and that’s what he focuses the film on. It could just as easily been a broad comedy, encouraging the audience to point and laugh at these people and their efforts, but instead it’s a reflection on art and the people who create it, highlighting their struggles and their passion.
Franco is truly wonderful as Tommy. He takes the over the top cult figure (a truly bizarre man who has made himself into a caricature) and brilliantly turns him into a real human being. His drive to create and be accepted is the emotional core of the film, and even after his outrageous outbursts and fights with cast and crew you can’t help but feel a little sorry for the man who just wanted to make something special. The hype behind Franco’s performance is real and justified as he delivers a career best performance. Dave Franco works well to bring a grounded reality to Greg that juxtaposes Tommy’s insanity. The relationship between the real life brothers translates well on screen, with the familial bond between adding to the emotion that drives the narrative.
The casting of the film is truly spectacular, with actors like Jacki Weaver, Ari Graynor and Zac Efron (in a brilliant cameo) appearing as the spitting images of the various cast members of Tommy’s film. However, it’s Seth Rogen and Paul Scheer that deliver two of the more engaging performances as the beleaguered script supervisor and director of photography who continually clash with Tommy on set. It’s in these moments that the laughs begin to fade away and the film begins its trek into more dramatic territory. Scheer and Rogen’s performances help to bring the audience back down to reality after having spent so much time up in the clouds with Tommy.
The Disaster Artist is a film that strikes the perfect balance between a light-hearted comedy and a passionate character drama. At times you’ll find yourself laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation, but the film tries its best to not make Tommy the butt of the joke. There’s a genuine vulnerability to Wiseau that Franco brings to the forefront, which truly makes the film transcend beyond just a film about the “best worst movie”.
Reminiscent of Tim Burton’s 1994 film Ed Wood, The Disaster Artist truly cares about its characters and the creative journey their embarking on. Sure, the film Tommy made was awful, but he it made with integrity and heart. The Disaster Artist is seemingly made with the same passion that drove Wiseau to create his “masterpiece”, which makes it one of the more engaging and interesting films leading the charge into the 2017 award season. Fingers crossed we see Tommy grace the red carpet at this year’s Oscars.
8.5 out of 10.
Reviewed by Chris Swan.