January 23, 2018

Movie Review: The Disaster Artist

The Room is, hands down, one of the worst movies ever made. The funny thing is that we are here talking about it years after its release, which was really no more than a blip. Why? Why are we still talking about this awful movie? Let’s take that a step further, why are theaters having midnight screenings? Why do these screenings sell out? Why? Why? Why? The only thing that I can surmise is that we, as a collective, are attracted to crap. Seriously. I admit it, I have seen The Room and would likely watch it again. I must be some sort of masochist. Now, we have reached the ultimate in our collective love for bad filmmaking, a movie made by bi Hollywood names attempting to find the source of enjoyment of this terrible movie and deeper than that, an understanding the enigmatic figure at the center of it all.

The Disaster Artist is the movie tha centers on the mystery that is Tommy Wiseau and the making of the infamous The Room. Based on the book by Wiseau’s friend, partner, and costar, Greg Sestero, the tale has been championed to the big screen by James Franco, who not only directs, but stars as Tommy Wiseau, alongside his brother, Dave Franco, playing Greg Sestero. Not only that, but I have heard rumors that he directed the film in character as Tommy. Honestly, and I have not looked, but I seriously hope there is footage of this, that has to be incredible.

Not having done any research into the man myself, going merely by what was onscreen in The Room, I had no idea of what to expect from this film. On one hand, it would be really easy to dismiss it, ot treat it as a joke. The source movie is so incredibly bad that I am not sure anyone would blame you for treating it as a joke. Fortunately, that is not what is done here. It is not a particularly deep or wide ranging film, and for the most part you are left with a lot of the same questions at the outset that you had going in. The thing of it is, the movie actually paints a fascinating image of the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau.

The movie is a comedy, you cannot help but laugh at much of what is going on, but at the same time, you see a great, and very unlikely, friendship develop between Tommy and Greg. In Tommy you will see a driven man who has a dream and never lets anything get in his way. He is always happy about something, a student of human behavior, but as if he had no idea of what humans were. It is as if Tommy were an alien muddling his way through life, attempting to create a fascimile of a human being.

It is somewhat inspiring to watch Tommy go after his dream with such gusto. Never one to be afraid of making a fool of himself. In a strange way, he becomes the ideal, both sympathetic and empathetic. He goes about his dream with Greg always at his side. Taking inspiration from what he sees and believing in what he is doing. You have to admire the fact that he put himself out there and was able to create something. It may not have turned out the way he expected, bt he got it made, and that is something.

Clearly, The Disaster Artist is a better movie than The Room. It dances the fine lines between comedy
and parody, the idea of laughing at and laughing with. I give Franco and his team a lot of credit for not letting the project run off the rails. It could have been very easy for this to to turn into joke, but it never does, instead giving us glimpse at the very strange, totally enigmatic, and oddly likable Tommy Wiseau. We may never know where he is from, how old he is, or where he got his money, but we have the results of his dream and this tale of his ambition and drive to make his dream a reality.

Is this one of the best movies of the year? Maybe. I am not so sure. It is definitely engrossing and well made, but it seems to hang completely on James Franco’s ability to mimic and exaggerate the Tommy-isms we have come to know from watching The Room. This is not a bad thing, but I am not sure it lifts the movie up to greatness. It is very good, no doubt. I also enjoyed watching how well Franco could mimic Wiseau and simultaneously not make him a joke or parody. I am not one to lift acting mimicry above character creation, but this seems to succeed at a bit of both.

The Disaster Artist is an excellent film that is worth seeing, especially if you have endured The Room. It truly is fascinating how we are attracted to bad films and want to know more about them. This is the perfect pairing of bad filmmaking and good filmmaking. Make it a double feature, it is genuinely worth the effort. And bravo to Tommy Wiseau on making the movie and his dream a reality and to Franco for giving us this fascinating look behind the curtain. One final note, I cannot attest to this being accurate, I am sure there is a bit of Hollywood exaggeration. So be it, still worth it.


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