The Disaster Artist, 2017.
Directed by James Franco.
Starring Dave Franco, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch, Josh Hutcherson, Sharon Stone, Ari Graynor, Dylan Minnette, Jacki Weaver, Megan Mullally, Eliza Coupe, Jason Mantzoukas, Hannibal Buress, Jason Mitchell, Kristen Bell, Bryan Cranston, Jerrod Carmichael, Sugar Lyn Beard, J.J. Abrams, John Early, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott, Angelyne, Paul Scheer, Melanie Griffith, Zach Braff, June Diane Raphael, Judd Apatow, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bob Odenkirk, Randall Park, Erin Cummings, Nathan Fielder, Tom Franco, Casey Wilson, Greg Sestero, and Tommy Wiseau.
Aspiring actor, Greg Sestero, meets the mysterious Tommy Wiseau at an acting class and they strike up an immediate friendship. It’s one that takes them to California and the chance to make a movie together – one that will go down in cinematic history.
If you’ve never seen The Room, you’ve probably at least heard of it – the cult movie often described as “the best worst film ever made”. It cost £6 million dollars to make, was a box office disaster but, since its release in 2003, has turned the tables on all its detractors and now has legions of loyal fans who simply worship it. And if you’ve never seen it, it’s time you did. That way you’ll fully appreciate The Disaster Artist.
Director and star James Franco is a fan – he and brother Dave reckon they’ve watched it as many as 30 times – and he’s made it for everybody who loves the film, complete with masses of affection for both Wiseau himself and his unique movie. But it’s no documentary, nor a mockumentary: it’s an out and out comedy, one that overflowed with so much material that Franco had to leave out at least half an hour’s worth of reconstructed scenes from The Room from the final cut.
Wiseau (James Franco) makes a spectacular first entrance. Aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) has delivered a lacklustre interpretation of Waiting For Godot in his acting class, but it’s nothing compared to the next student on stage, Wiseau, with an unbridled – or should that be un-hinged? – impersonation of a drunken Stanley Kowalski from A Streetcar Named Desire. It’s nothing short of a meltdown – and rib-achingly hilarious.
It’s the start of their friendship – and more. They swear to support each other in their ambitions and end up going to LA to pursue their dreams. Staying in Wiseau’s apartment – don’t ask where his money comes from because you won’t get a straight answer – they sign up with talent agencies, but with no work coming in he decides to make his own movie. And pay for it. The rest of the film follows the making of The Room, from its rollercoaster ride of a shoot to what followed when it was eventually released.
Not seen The Room? You should. It’s dreadful, irresistible and wonderful all at the same time. But, even if you haven’t, you’ll still come out of The Disaster Artist with a Dave Franco size grin on your face – and the irresistible urge to go right back in and watch it all over again. It’s packed with familiar faces – alongside the Franco brothers, there’s Seth Rogan, Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, even Brian Cranston as himself – so there’s even more fun to be had spotting all the cameos. It also boasts an uncanny performance from James Franco, whose re-creation of Wiseau is totally on the button. The award nominations have already started ……
There is a serious side to the movie, all about following your dream. Despite clearly not having the talent – and being told so in public by no less than Judd Apatow – what Wiseau has is the money and that’s all he needs. It’s too easy to write him off as an exhibitionist: he was smart enough to turn a disaster into a cult success – even though when The Room was first released, he paid for it to stay in cinemas for a fortnight so that it would qualify for an Oscar nomination. Confidence or arrogance? You decide.
The acid test for The Disaster Artist was a screening in a cinema full of fans of The Room. They were going to be its toughest critics by far: the slightest slip would have provoked howls of derision. The enormous cheer at the end said it all. They loved it. And so did I.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Freda Cooper. Follow me on Twitter.