The Disaster Artist (2017): Oh Hai, James Franco!
“The Disaster Artist” is directed by James Franco (Spider-Man, 127 Hours), and is based on a true book written by Greg Sestero. This movie also stars James Franco alongside his brother, Dave Franco (Neighbors, Now You See Me), and Seth Rogen (Sausage Party, Pineapple Express). “The Disaster Artist” revolves around the making of the 2003 disasterpiece of a film, “The Room.” The book which this movie is based on is written by a cast member of “The Room” who played the character of Mark (played by Dave Franco here). So, essentially Greg is one of the main characters, and he meets Tommy Wiseau (played by James Franco) in an acting class. The two form a bond as time passes, which leads them to try tackling their dreams in Hollywood together.
I just want to get two things out of the way. I’ve never read “The Disaster Artist.” I almost picked it up once, but I put it back before taking it. However I did watch “The Room.” I managed to find it on YouTube and someone had a post showing the movie from beginning to end. I watched it recently and I TOTALLY see what everyone is talking about. From the cheesy and poorly written dialogue, the so-called acting, and the establishing shots of San Francisco that feel like something out of say, “The Golden Girls,” this movie is a mess, but it was so f*cking fun. The movie itself, is capable of having most of its viewers say it’s terrible, but at the same time, it kind of has a feeling that other bad movies don’t give you. This is more along the lines of a movie like “Batman & Robin,” where it’s bad, but you can also have some fun watching it because of all the cheese. It’s not like watching “The Emoji Movie.” For the record, that movie did not suck ass, it sucked EVERY ass. “The Disaster Artist” is like neither of those films. This is because “The Disaster Artist” is definitely one of 2017’s best films! Not only that, but it also has to be one of the most ironic films I’ve ever seen! “The Room” is in a word, abominable. “The Disaster Artist” is in a word, admirable. It’s amazing how “The Disaster Artist,” a movie based on the making of one of the worst movies ever made, specifically the kind where it’s so bad that you have to experience it, became one of this year’s best movies, a film so good that you have to experience it. And I did. I’m just gonna warn you, I’m gonna be digressing here, and it’ll be a matter of time before my actual review of the movie appears on here. And I know a reason why a lot of people are here is to read my thoughts on “The Disaster Artist,” not to hear about my personal life. So if this bores you, makes you want to stab yourself with a knife, encourages you to go on a killing spree, or makes you want to jump out a window, DON’T DO THOSE THINGS, and instead, either stop reading the post and rethink what you’re doing in life, or just skip ahead to the next paragraph where I get back on track. So let’s move on.
I’m a high school student currently living in eastern Massachusetts. It took me three weeks to see this movie. I wanted to see it right away, but I had other things going on at the time. Then “winter break” came, note the quotation marks, stating sarcasm of how my winter break lacked any time to sit down and relax. Due to a complicated schedule, I was somewhat worried that I wouldn’t get to see this. I did however once time was on my side, not to mention my father’s. There were barely any times available and the closest town I could go see the movie was Somerville. I don’t usually go to Somerville to see a movie, I’ve only done it twice. In fact, I barely go to Somerville period! But I did it, because I was committed. That and I had gift cards to AMC Theatres that I felt would be useful for an occasion such as this. Somerville is nearby as far as I’m concerned but I barely go anywhere that’s urban, I’m usually in the suburbs when I go to movie theaters. It’s easier parking-wise, it’s easier in terms of traffic, not to mention there are theaters that are closer in terms of distance and time. I like the AMC in Somerville better than some theaters I go to (except price-wise), but I think the auditoriums are nice and the sound’s amazing. Traffic and time to get to the theater weren’t an issue for my father and I. Parking almost did however. My father’s vehicle can’t fit in garages, and admittedly, I didn’t mention to him that Assembly Row, the plaza where the theater happened to be located, was mainly garage based. There is parking available in non-garage areas, but it’s a busy place, not to mention it was a Saturday night and the following day was New Year’s Eve. The unusual trip to Somerville, was worth it from the quality of the movie alone.
Out of all the films I’ve seen this year, this one is BY FAR the funniest. Not only that, but it also managed to be rather serious. One thing that I imagine some people who know about “The Room” might have expected walking into this film was the possibility that it might mock Tommy Wiseau to the tenth degree. The movie, in terms of its screenplay, makes almost anything Tommy does on screen hysterical, but I wouldn’t say it makes fun of him. Tommy, at the time which this movie takes place, is a mystery man. He goes on saying to Greg Sestero that he can’t talk about his interactions with Tommy to anyone. We as viewers don’t even know that much about his background. We don’t know how the money that went into the making of “The Room” appeared. It’s explained that this movie took $5 million to make. That’s what I recall the film’s screenplay suggesting, but according to IMDb it cost an estimated total of $6 million to make the flick. Speaking of IMDb, if you look at Tommy Wiseau’s page, it says he was born on October 3rd, 1955 in Poznag, Poland. According to the Wikipedia page dedicated to Tommy Wiseau, it says he gave an age in interviews after the release of “The Room” that would suggest he’s either born in 1968 or 1969. He claimed to have lived in France a long time ago, he grew up in New Orleans, and he had an entire family in Chalmette, Louisiana. Greg Sestero’s identically titled book, which James Franco suggested in an interview based on the words of Tommy is “40% true,” suggested that his brother’s girlfriend obtained copies of Wiseau’s immigration papers, which said Tommy was born earlier than he claimed. Rick Harper, AKA the creator of “Room Full of Spoons,” a recent documentary based on the making of “The Room,” did research on Tommy Wiseau’s background, coming to the conclusion that Tommy is Polish and originally from the city of Poznan. In November 2017, Tommy confirmed in an interview he was originally from Europe. The following month, he was interviewed by Howard Stern. He mentioned he speaks French and happens to be Catholic. While we may be progressively getting more and more information, the man’s still a mystery, and the movie does a very good job at telling that to its viewers.
Just for your information, the earliest this film actually released was on March 12th, 2017. According to IMDb, it was a work-in-progress at the time. I can’t say how much of the film was released to the public, if it wrapped it’s filming entirely, how much editing got done, none of that, but it was a work-in-progress. This was shown at the time to those who went to “South by Southwest.” The next release was on September 11th at the Toronto International Film Festival, and IMDb doesn’t have it labeled as a work-in-progress unlike the release for South by Southwest. The movie for what I recall, never mentions Poznan, or Poland in general for that matter. Despite the film lacking that detail, it does a fantastic job of explaining the total mystery that is Tommy Wiseau.
Speaking of Tommy Wiseau, let’s talk about him as a character, not to mention the guy who plays him. Tommy’s played by James Franco, who also directed this film. This is without a doubt, one of the best performances ever given by James Franco. As mentioned, Tommy Wiseau is mysterious, and Franco captured that quite well. Franco also had an accent that Tommy gave all the time, and he didn’t sound like James Franco like you’d hear in content such as “Freaks and Geeks” and “Spider-Man,” where does give passable performances, nothing groundbreaking, but you can still see that shred of Franco. Here, he turns into Tommy, giving perhaps my favorite performance of the year. There are a number of performances I admired in 2017. Some of my favorites include Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard in “Blade Runner 2049,” Ryan Gosling as K in “Blade Runner 2049,” Ansel Elgort as Baby in “Baby Driver,” Gal Gadot as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in “Wonder Woman,” Tom Glynn-Carney as Peter in “Dunkirk,” Fionn Whitehead as Tommy in “Dunkirk,” Jayma Mays as Dana Sibota in “American Made,” and Holly Hunter as Beth in “The Big Sick.” I just saw this film, so this could change, but James Franco as Tommy Wiseau might be better than just about every single one of these performances I’ve listed. Am I overhyping this? I really don’t think so! It might be a tie between this and the recently mentioned performances by Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, and Mark Hamill until further notice. The future will probably provide more certainty.
In fact, in terms of direction, James Franco outdone himself as well! “Spider-Man 2” may be my favorite film with James Franco in it, but out of all the films he’s worked on, this may be the one which James as an individual worked the hardest on. All of the actors seemed like they had no problems on set while they played people who had problems on set. The film is well shot and well lit. In fact, towards the end of the movie, it actually shows “The Room” during its premiere, and not long after that’s over, we cut to two side-by-side moving images. One is actual footage from “The Room” and another is recreated footage, which was specific for this movie. That footage contained actors playing the characters originally played by other actors. Some examples include Josh Hutcherson (The Hunger Games, Journey to the Center of the Earth) as Denny (originally played by Philip Haldiman), Zac Efron (Neighbors, High School Musical), who played Chris-R (originally played by Dan Janjigian), Ari Graynor (Bad Teacher, I’m Dying Up Here), who played Lisa (originally played by Juliette Danielle), Dave Franco who played Mark (originally played by Greg Sestero), and let’s not forget James freaking Franco, who played Johnny (originally played by Tommy f*cking Wiseau). Is this my favorite film of the year in terms of direction? I wouldn’t say that, but it is close however.
Going into this film, I knew a lot about “The Room,” but based on various scenes, I picked up on some things I didn’t expect to pick up on involving “The Room” as a movie. You know how you notice an extended amount of the movie’s runtime, the characters are playing football? This movie kind of goes into that.
This movie is more than just something that’s telling the story of the production behind another movie. It’s also a story about friendship. As mentioned, Tommy Wiseau isn’t being mocked throughout this picture, and I really appreciate the film going in that direction because it made you understand Tommy as a person. Not only that, but this movie also has a major focus on Dave Franco’s character of Greg Sestero. This is almost a lot like “Lord of the Rings” in ways. Think of Tommy Wiseau as Frodo and Greg Sestero as Sam. Tell me that comparison is terrible. They’re there for each other, they respect each other, they even do a pinkie swear in the film, which occurs more than once to be accurate. As friends, they decide to make a movie together.
As Tommy and Greg make “The Room,” it’s clear that they don’t do know s*it on how to make a movie. When the two are trying to get cameras to shoot the movie, they decide to buy them, not rent them. While buying cameras isn’t exactly something that hasn’t been done for movies before, it’s traditional for people to rent them. Not to mention, when they’re asked if they want 35mm or HD, they respond saying they want both types of cameras. They’re lit differently, they work non-identically, and it might result in a weird final product depending on how things go. Overall, their friendship is shown in this film to the tenth degree and I love it.
In the end, “The Disaster Artist” takes an absolutely horrible film, and incorporates it into a different, astoundingly incredible film. The story behind “The Room” is honestly, a movie I never asked for, but once I heard about it, and saw the teaser trailer for it back in July, I was instantly in anticipation mode. On paper, this idea sounded amazing. As a final product, this idea is even better. Before I give my final verdict, I’m gonna let you in on a little fact. My dad and I saw this movie together, he went to see this film without watching, or even knowing all that much about “The Room.” He walked out of the theater alongside me, saying he enjoyed the film. So ultimately, you don’t need to watch “The Room” to appreciate this film. You can do it if you want to, which I must say if you do, is an experience, but it’s not necessary. However, I imagine at least knowing about “The Room” or watching it might add it a bit to the movie. With that being said, I loved this movie and it’s undoubtedly one of the best of the year. I’m going to give “The Disaster Artist” a 10/10. One last thing before I go on with a wrap-up, this movie has an end credit scene, so stick around after the credits if you don’t want to miss that. Anyway, thanks for reading this review, this is one of my favorite movies of the year, and speaking of that, once 2018 starts, one of the earliest published posts on this blog will be a countdown of my top 10 BEST movies of 2017. This movie will have a spot on the list for sure. I won’t say which, because it could change, plus I might go see one more 2017 movie in the theater and review it. That potential movie by the way, is “Downsizing.” One list I assure you this movie won’t be on, is my top 10 WORST movies of 2017, which I plan on releasing after I reveal my top 10 BEST list. Stay tuned for more reviews, and also stay tuned for those upcoming countdowns! I can’t wait to finally release them, because I have so much fun making them! I want to know, did you see “The Disaster Artist?” What do you think about it? Did you see “The Room?” What are your thoughts on that? Or, what are some movies that you personally think are so bad that they are actually good? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!
(FROM THE ROOM)
JOHNNY: I did not her, it’s not true! It’s bulls*it! I did not hit her! (throws water bottle) I did *not*. Oh hi, Mark.
You can laugh, you can cry, you can express yourself, but please don’t hurt each other. –Tommy Wiseau