Franco's loving look at bad movie gets high marks
There has never been a movie like Tommy Wiseau's “The Room,” and there probably won't ever be again.
In the annals of “so bad it's good” films, it's the pinnacle. It's not because it's bad, but because it's so incredibly and consistently fascinating. And, yes, bad.
But there's also a pure and ridiculous bravery to its direction. Wiseau's filmmaking decisions are questionable to the world at large, but he makes them with such confidence.
James Franco's “The Disaster Artist” takes the audience inside the making of the worst movie ever, but it also takes us inside the enigma that Wiseau remains to this day.
The film is (loosely) based on the book written by “Room” star Greg Sestero, who met Wiseau in an acting class, leading to an unusual friendship and an even more unusual film.
Franco plays Wiseau and is fittingly also behind the director's chair. (Wiseau served as writer, producer, director and more for “The Room.”)
Franco's younger brother, Dave, plays the fresh-faced Greg, an aspiring actor with leading man good looks and some naivety to the business (but not enough that he doesn't question Wiseau's odd choices during filming).
I first discovered “The Room” around a decade ago when the cult was starting to form. I've attended the midnight screenings we are blessed to have at the Drexel Theatre and can confirm that they're a blast.
So, yes, seeing “The Room” will increase your enjoyment of “The Disaster Artist,” if only because you can appreciate how uncanny the moments recreated here really are.
And it will also prepare you for just how weird things are, from Wiseau's bizarre accent, which he swears is “Cajun,” to a production that seems awash in mystery funding.
But “Disaster Artist” is also a consistently funny film that has enough warmth to make it an ode to both friendship and the artistic spirit, in whatever direction they may take.
The younger Franco is the audience's anchor, as we see things through the eyes of Greg, but James Franco deserves serious Oscar consideration for his embodiment of Wiseau. He befriended Wiseau for the role, and his send-up doesn't feel like mockery.
“The Disaster Artist” does play fast and loose with its source material in the interest of entertainment, though it's hardly the first time that's happened.
And if it does its job, expect to see new faces at those Drexel “Room” screenings.