Aphrodite in NYC_CC BY 2.0 Actor James Franco directs and stars in The Disaster Artist.
I’m going to start this off by saying that I have never watched The Room and I will never watch The Room. It’s not something that appealed to me in high school, and its prevalence among college students as a “cult classic” has only strengthened my feelings against it. This is the hill I will die on, and nothing will ever change that.
That being said, even the moniker of “Worst Movie of All Time” warrants some form of respect. From financing to filming, there are so many hurdles that come with making a movie. Ask any film student on campus and they’ll agree: Making a film is hard, and making a good film is even harder. So for that — by the off chance that he is reading this review — I applaud Tommy Wiseau for this disastrous attempt to become a star.
If you’re looking for a film that will dive into the life and backstory of Tommy Wiseau, then don’t go see The Disaster Artist. This film isn’t also just about the making of The Room but also about — as James Franco says while playing Tommy Wiseau — “interactions between different human behavior.” Every single character that we are introduced to reacts to Tommy’s behavior in a very similar way, and the way each character tries to work around his behavior and adapt to it complements the rest of the plot. We are introduced to Tommy through the eyes of Dave Franco’s bashful, young Greg. He’s the complete opposite of Tommy.
While Tommy is laughed at because of his lack of inhibitions, Greg is laughed at due to the fact that he has the acting ability of a piece of wood. Because of this, Greg befriends Tommy, wanting to know how he’s so carefree and just does his own thing.
In an early scene, we see them have an acting breakthrough together. This is the moment that really brings Greg out of his shell, justifying his loyalty to Tommy. Early parts of the film showcase the friendship between these two actors and plants the seeds for the frustrations that will later be aired by Greg and other members of the cast.
The cast in this film is, quite frankly, phenomenal. It features Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Ari Graynor and a cameo appearance from Zac Efron. The amount of comedic talent in The Disaster Artist is what lets the frustrations come off as hilarious while also shining a light on Wiseau’s total inability to acknowledge the faults in his script and direction.
Dave Franco is sensational as Greg Sestero, using his natural charisma to win you over in the first few moments of the film. His good looks also remind us of the opportunities that attractive people have in Hollywood when compared to someone less attractive like Tommy.
Speaking of, James Franco completely loses himself in the role of Tommy Wiseau. Where I was expecting a caricature of Wiseau, I saw someone who was instead humanized and given depth. Yes, we don’t get much about Tommy’s personal history, but that’s expected considering that nobody other than Tommy knows where he is from. Franco gives his finest performance since Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and his direction makes The Disaster Artist feel fleshed out.
The film portrays the on-set dysfunction as a result of Tommy’s feelings of betrayal towards the crew and his best friend Greg.The crew’s constant mocking and Greg’s mild success triggers an emotional response that results in Tommy not only becoming the villain of Greg’s story but also the crew’s. In a way, he even becomes the villain of his own story.
Tommy’s stubbornness is a double-edged sword. His conviction to stick to his vision and continue to unapologetically be the person he wants to be is admirable. But when so many people are telling you something isn’t right, odds are that you’re in the wrong. It’s a lesson that it doesn’t seem Tommy learns, due to the way the film ends and the cultural role that the film has in today’s society.
Overall, The Disaster Artist is a film that captures what I can only imagine was a small part of the chaos on the set of The Room. With passionate performances from every cast member, it does feel like a “real Hollywood movie.”