Oh hai Mark!
Guys and gals, after a two-month absence, I’m back!
This is my review of The Disaster Artist!
Based on the book “The Disaster Artist,” the making of “The Room” is chronicled through the tumultuous friendship between Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) as they meet in an acting class, form a bond and travel to LA together to prove all the naysayers wrong. The end result is “The Room,” a film both infamously terrible and an instant classic. Before I go on, yes, I have seen The Room and will be reviewing it soon.
The heart of the story is the relationship between Wiseau and Sestero, mostly shown through Sestero’s perspective. Experiencing Wiseau’s strange nature through Sestero’s eyes was a smart choice since it balances out the weirdness of the story. Speaking of Tommy Wiseau, James Franco’s performance is amazing! The accuracy and attention to detail is noteworthy. Everything from the off-putting accent to the hair, his mannerisms; James Franco transforms into Tommy Wiseau. I appreciate how the film never makes Wiseau into a joke, rather it humanizes him and works around his eccentricities, preventing him from coming off as a caricature. As for Dave Franco, while his performance isn’t anything remarkable, he is the grounded and sensible friend who keeps Wiseau’s oddities in check. The fact that brothers James and Dave Franco star as Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero heightens the chemistry between the protagonists, making their relationship believable and natural.
Having never read “The Disaster Artist” book, I didn’t realize until halfway through the film how one-sided and toxic Wiseau and Sestero’s relationship is. He doesn’t try to break up Sestero and his new girlfriend, but his disapproval of the romance is loud and clear. His mistreatment of the cast and crew of “The Room” is not sugarcoated at all; we see him humiliate Juliette Danielle during the awkward sex scene by pointing out a zit on her shoulder, he refuses to turn on the air conditioning, causing a cast member to faint and getting into shouting matches with the cameraman and producer. Wiseau himself could range between codependent and emotionally abusive, but both James Franco’s performance and the film make it very clear that he only has the propensity for being difficult and not abusive by intent. Due to minimal emotional intelligence and a lack of social skills, Wiseau is portrayed as a man who does have a good heart, but chooses self over others more often than not.
The big question with this movie is does it work on its own in spite of “The Room” being the backdrop? As someone who has seen the original “The Room,” but is not a mega-fan, I say YES! The first hour is an underdog story that humanizes the relationship between Wiseau and Sestero, while the second hour continues to develop their troubled friendship all while successfully recreating iconic scenes from “The Room.” The underdog aspect of the story remains front and center even as the making-of comes into play.
Honestly my only complaint would be that the third act feels somewhat rushed. SPOILER: So Sestero and Wiseau have a big confrontation and then Sestero walks off the set of “The Room.” One fade to black later, Sestero looks up while driving and sees a movie poster for “The Room.” Sestero and Wiseau meet again (after an unspecified amount of time) and they make up pretty quickly. Given how much Wiseau has taken advantage of him, I kind of wish we had see Sestero resist forgiving Wiseau, even just a brief look of consternation on his face before realizing what brought him and Wiseau together in the first place. Granted, having never read the book, I don’t know if this is how it happens in the novel, but it felt very rushed to me.
Guys and gals, The Disaster Artist is anything but a disaster. This is a fantastic biopic of how the best-worst movie of all time came to be. A well-crafted script, an endearing love for “The Room” permeating from every actor involve, and the chemistry between James and Dave Franco bring Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero to life, enabling we the audience to empathize with their wild journey towards turning a crazy dream into a cult classic reality.
Saint John Bosco, pray for us.