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The Disaster Artist – Movie Review

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The Disaster Artist – Movie Review

Rating: B+ (Very Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

The Room might be the most infamous of this century’s “bad movies”, but looking beyond the unusual dialogue, it’s an altogether frustrating film. Establishing shots are pointlessly added, scenes have no consequence to later events, subplots are dropped and the director/writer Tommy Wiseau ignores all basic screenwriting rules. However, reading Greg Sestero’s account on what transpired behind the scenes is far more entertaining than watching The Room. Using his book as a source, The Disaster Artist is a frequently funny movie that tries to understand Wiseau’s view of the world, even as he continually proves to be a mysterious figure. This film seems to hold a certain amount of respect for Wiseau’s chutzpah, while also critically looking at what makes The Room such a disaster.

Even before Wiseau, as played with shocking accuracy by director James Franco, steps in front of the camera, The Disaster Artist spends a considerable amount of time building the relationship between him and Sestero. Most of the movie is shown through Sestero’s point-of-view and one can believe his curiousity and frustrations at this strange man. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber’s screenplay finds itself at a humourous crossroads in trying to figure out Wiseau’s past. There is also a degree of sympathy towards Sestero and his quest for success, from one failed audition to another. These early scenes provide the proper context to understand why he would make The Room. They make The Disaster Artist more than a series of in-jokes for the cult crowd who can already quote the film verbatim.

The best sequences come from the making of The Room and the attention to detail with which Franco recreates the scenes. There is a hilarious element to seeing notable, world-class actors saying these lines with the same wooden delivery as the thespians in the original film. Seth Rogen’s script supervisor represents the befuddled audience trying to figure out Wiseau’s vision and lack of filmmaking understanding. One can feel the patience of the entire crew as they go from scene to scene. Franco also doesn’t shy away from Wiseau’s frequent outbursts and egomaniacal behaviour. This is not a rosy portrait of the man and one almost wonders how Sestero stayed friends with him.

The Disaster Artist is peppered with small appearances by well-known actors and comedians, but these expand the world instead of proving a distraction. Megan Mullally gets one of the funniest scenes as Sestero’s mother and Judd Apatow and Bob Odenkirk provide solid obstacles for Wiseau. The decision to have brothers James and Dave Franco play Wiseau and Greg Sestero seems like an odd one, but this heightens their chemistry. It might have been the only way to believe Sestero would stick around for so long. James Franco’s commitment to Wiseau is especially notable. Most people could believably pull off the voice, but Franco finds the proper emotional key that Tommy Wiseau could never pull off.

The Disaster Artist succeeds at showing that other side of Hollywood, the one full of struggling artists making films in alleys and creating things that might not be seen outside of late night cable access programs. Yet only Tommy Wiseau could have taken his terrible, remarkably expensive $5 million independent claptrap and put it in a cinema. The Room probably deserved to be forgotten, but the universe decided that enough people should see it. That we got a film as funny as The Disaster Artist is one good thing to come out of The Room’s existence. Maybe the plan was to turn it into a cult film that would continue to rake in profits for him. The mystery surrounding this figure only makes the creation of his horrendously bad Tennessee Williams rip-off that much more fascinating.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison