A GOOD FILM ABOUT A BAD FILM.
“The Disaster Artist” seems to exist to answer the one question that is asked about all bad movies: “How did this film get made?” To its credit, the movie does try to answer this question by diving headfirst into the minds and personal dynamics of the two main characters of this film.
The two main characters, aspiring actors Greg Sestero (played by Dave Franco) and Tommy Wiseau (played by James Franco), are delightful together and one can immediately understand how these two people could end up as friends despite Wiseau’s strange behavior.
After being rejected by the Hollywood system, Sestero and Wiseau band together to create their own movie, with Wiseau operating as the writer, the director, the producer and the main star. The duo embark on this endeavor along with a cast of unfortunate souls who are along for the ride. Rifts form, friendships are questioned and the infamous cult classic “The Room” is born from the wreckage.
The film explores the minds behind the notorious flick and the drama that came from its production. It’s a competently put together film with cinematography and editing that accomodate the film’s large cast by allowing each character some time for the audience to get to know them. And the movie is funny at parts, such as Wiseau’s entrance scene, and at others emotionally conflicting, particularly when showing the inner turmoil of Dave Franco’s character as he is torn between his loyalty to his friend and his own aspirations.
The film takes place in the part of LA we don’t see often, the less successful, mundane area, where a majority of actors spend their lives. We get to know the characters here, and so when they inevitably enter the film’s hellish production, they are not cartoonish, but relatable, real people. It is on the movie set that the cast gets to shine with delightful performances from James Franco, Dave Franco and Seth Rogen, who plays the hapless script supervisor and defacto film director.
For me, however, it falls short with the performance of James Franco as the titular artist. While Franco is able to nail the strange accent, his body language and physicality is off. Tommy Wiseau is a strange man both inside and out, something an older actor could have captured but which completely eluded the statuesque sex symbol. At one point in the film an acting teacher describes Tommy as having a “malevolent presence,” comparing him to Frankenstein, which is an accurate description of Tommy Wiseau, but a stretch of the imagination when applied to James Franco.
With that being said, James Franco is able to portray the thoughts and inner workings of such a perplexing figure. Through the strange wardrobe and even stranger hair, we can see a hopelessly bizarre yet relatable character of Wiseau even at his worst moments. Like “The Room” itself, “The Disaster Artist” is a delight for fans of the source material and leaves even the curious newcomer entertained.