Making a movie about the making of the “worst movie ever made” (aka “The Room” aka “the Citizen Kane of bad movies”), it could be easy to just spend the time making fun of everything and magnifying the weakness. But director-star James Franco obviously has a soft spot for Room writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau and the Disaster Artist is really a paean to the struggling wannabe actor and his friendship between Wiseau and Room co-star Greg Sestero.
James Franco stars as the mysterious mumbly-accented Wiseau and he presents such a well-rounded complicated person that it’s rather surprising. Franco’s Wiseau is an endearing, sweet, jealous, spiteful, mean, sad, inexperienced, dim, and weird man of indeterminate age and origin. The film balances this with Wiseau’s friendship with Sestero, played by Franco’s brother Dave. Dave is a joy of aw-shucks enthusiasm and in some cases, has the more difficult part in terms of forming an interesting fully-realized character without the ability to rely on the character tics that Wiseau has. But really, both Francos are amazing and their obvious enjoyment of each other comes through in their best friend characters even as they argue and fight.
The movie faithfully recreates a lot of scenes from The Room, even going so far as playing them side by side. Most of the stories that followed the making of the room are on display here, with everyone you’ve ever seen in that thing that one time popping up for small roles (Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor, Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Paul Scheer, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, June Diane Raphael, Megan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Nathan Fielder, Joe Mande, Charline Yi, Randall Park, Casey Wilson, Jerrod Carmichael, Hannibal Burress, Sharon Stone, John Ealy, Melanie Griffith, Bob Odenkirk, Kristen Bell, Adam Scott, Kevin Smith, Ike Barinholtz, Keegan Michael Key, Lizzy Caplan, JJ Abrams, even Angelyne herself).
For billing itself as a celebration of a bad movie, the Disaster Artist is more of a treatise on friendship and the lengths we go to in order to realize our dreams. It’s surprisingly tender amidst all the ridiculousness, and quite an accomplishment for both Francos.
My Grade – A-