THE DISASTER ARTIST:
THE TIM BURTON’S ED WOOD FOR A NEW GENERATION THAT’S FUNNY AND SURPRISINGLY CHARMING!
By Nico Beland
Movie Review: **** out of 4
A24. WARNER BROS. PICTURES, AND NEW LINE CINEMA
James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist
Oh, hai Moviewatchin’ Psychopath blog, anyway James Franco (Spider-Man trilogy, 127 Hours, This is the End) stars and directs The Disaster Artist based on the memoir of the same name written by actor, Greg Sestero who co-starred as Mark with infamous filmmaker, Tommy Wiseau as Johnny in the 2003 cult classic, The Room. Ever since I saw the movie for the first time as well as the Nostalgia Critic review I’ve been a proud supporter of The Room and will introduce the film to as many people as I can, in fact I even went to the Rifftrax Live showing of it a couple years ago.
Naturally I was hyped for this movie when they first announced it and was completely onboard for it when I first saw the trailers. And I can gladly say that The Disaster Artist is exactly the same amount of energy and passion that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp put in to Ed Wood done for Tommy Wiseau.
Not only is it a fascinating biopic on the production of The Room, but it’s also a very funny and inspiring tribute to Wiseau’s and Sestero’s work that doesn’t shy away from the behind-the-scenes drama and shows that success can come in unexpected ways. All thanks to a performance by James Franco as Wiseau that’s on par with Daniel Day-Lewis’ Lincoln, the likable charm of its two leads, and very passionate direction by Franco who brilliantly recaptures Wiseau’s vision on film.
19-year-old aspiring actor, Greg Sestero (David Franco-Superbad, Neighbors, Sausage Party) meets a mysterious man named Tommy Wiseau (Franco) in an acting class in San Francisco 1998 and is inspired by Wiseau’s fearlessness onstage after an awkward attempt at performing a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. Over the coming months Sestero and Wiseau form a strong yet bizarre friendship.
Eventually Tommy suggests that he and Greg move to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams of becoming Hollywood actors. The downside is Wiseau’s not very good and faces several rejections from agencies, casting directors, and Hollywood insiders.
So, one day Tommy gets a brilliant idea, let’s make our own movie and show Hollywood what we got. And thus, the development of The Room begins, a movie that would go down in history as one of the best bad movies of all time.
Over the next three years Tommy writes the film’s script and presents it to Greg and despite recognizing its incoherence he insists that the script is great. Unfortunately, the film undergoes several setbacks such as production delays, falling outs with the production crew, and bad decisions from Wiseau as he attempts to bring his masterpiece to life.
The film also stars Seth Rogen (Superbad, This is the End, Sausage Party) as script supervisor, Sandy Schklair, Alison Brie (Community, Scream 4, The Lego Movie) as Greg Sestero’s girlfriend, Amber, Ari Graynor (Mystic River, The Guilt Trip, I’m Dying Up Here) as Juliette Danielle who portrayed Lisa, Josh Hutcherson (Zathura, Bridge to Terabithia, The Hunger Games franchise) as Phillip Haldiman who portrayed Denny, Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom, The Five-Year Engagement, Silver Linings Playbook) as Carolyn Minnott who portrayed Claudette, Zac Efron (High School Musical trilogy, Hairspray, Neighbors) as Dan Janjigian who portrayed Chris-R, Hannibal Buress (Neighbors, The Nice Guys, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Birns and Sawyer production house owner, Bill Meurer, Andrew Santino (Sin City Saints, Henry Poole is Here, This Is Us) as Scott Holmes who portrayed Mike, June Diane Raphael (Zodiac, Burning Love, New Girl) as Robyn Paris who portrayed Michelle, Nathan Fielder (Bob’s Burgers, Nathan for You, The Night Before) as Kyle Vogt who portrayed Peter, Brian Huskey (Children’s Hospital, Bob’s Burgers, Neighbors) as Teller who portrayed James, Sharon Stone (Total Recall, Basic Instinct, Casino) as Sestero’s agent, Iris Burton, Melanie Griffith (Working Girl, RKO 281, Stuart Little 2) as acting class teacher, Jean Shelton, Paul Scheer (Human Giant, The League, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) as first DP, Raphael Smadja, Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator, Neighbors, The Lego Batman Movie) as Birns and Sawyer rep, Peter Anway, and Megan Mullally (Risky Business, Will & Grace, Ernest & Celestine) as Mrs. Sestero.
Overall, The Disaster Artist is a fascinating journey into the production of The Room as well as a loving tribute to both Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. You can tell that James Franco admires Wiseau as a person and the movie he directed to the point where he transforms into the real Tommy Wiseau with his performance and recreates famous scenes from The Room to a tease, I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t his best performance since 127 Hours.
The chemistry between James and Dave Franco in this movie is amazing and they both represent Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero perfectly. I really like how even after the difficult production process, concerns, and disagreements that occurred Greg and Tommy remain supportive of each other and continue to stay in touch today.
What I appreciate about this movie is that even if you’re not familiar with The Room you can still watch this movie and be just as invested as everyone else. Though it is a lot better if you’ve seen the movie and/or the Nostalgia Critic review prior because you’ll understand the references and laugh as they’re being recreated.
Like Tim Burton’s Ed Wood this is one of those movies that should be mandatory for film study classes and for film enthusiasts in general. It’s a movie about the making of a movie that may have gained recognition as one of the best bad movies of all time but it shows that Tommy Wiseau never lost faith in himself or Greg and was acting, writing, and directing the movie with passion and from his heart.
The Disaster Artist is a loving tribute to two people who deserve all the recognition they received over the years. If you have a passion for movies and filmmaking, this should be a priority (You can wait on Star Wars, go see this first, otherwise you will betray me).