(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) – In 1994, Tim Burton directed a movie called “Ed Wood” about a director behind some of the worst movies of all time. The film received widespread critical acclaim. In 2017, another good movie about the making of a terrible one was released, “The Disaster Artist.”
The film was adapted from the nonfiction book of the same name, which provided a look of “The Room” from behind the scenes. The film follows the making of cult-internet favorite “The Room,” a movie so bad, it’s great.
It’s directed by James Franco, who stars also as Tommy Wiseau, the director of “The Room.”
“The Disaster Artist” mainly focuses on Greg Sestero, played by Dave Franco, who is James’ younger brother. Greg Sestero actually co-wrote the book; both it and the film are from his perspective. As a struggling actor, Sestero comes across Wiseau, who has the same dream.
Together they take off for Hollywood to try to become famous, but after be unable to find success. Wiseau has the idea of the two of them making their own movie. From then on, Sestero follows Wiseau along as he makes “The Room,” showing the madness that occurred behind the scenes.
It’s worth noting that being siblings doesn’t affect the Franco brothers’ acting. Their relationship as friends on screen is completely believable.
Now before I go any further, I need to be honest, I haven’t read the book, so I have no idea how closely the movie followed it. All I really know is what I looked up online.
“No adaptation of a book is ever totally complete, of course, and while Franco and the screenwriters left some big things out, their movie is certainly faithful to the spirit of ‘The Disaster Artist’,” according to Screenrant.com.
It’s ironic that James Franco, who is the director and plays one of the main characters of “The Disaster Artist,” portrays Tommy Wiseau, who was the director and played one of the main characters of “The Room.” Granted, it might be fitting instead, because unlike Wiseau, James Franco made it work.
He is almost unrecognizable as Tommy Wiseau. While he may not physically look like him, he completely talks and acts like him. The film also portrays Wiseau as ambiguous. He’s shown to be selfish, manipulative and even cruel, but also as sympathetic and naive. I’ll go into more detail about Wiseau’s portrayal later on.
In addition, the film brings up real questions about Tommy Wiseau that to this day haven’t been answered.
Where’s he from? he claims he’s from New Orleans, but he has a European accent? How old is he? He won’t give a straight answer. Where did he get his massive fortune? He paid for the film himself, and it cost millions to make.
The beginning is a little slow, but once Wiseau and Sestero start working on “The Room,” it gets interesting. Some of the deviations from the book to film are a little puzzling though.
Again from screenrant.com, “The movie somewhat soft-pedals just how tyrannical, bordering on abusive, Tommy Wiseau was, both on set and in his everyday dealings with Sestero.”
“The Disaster Artist” doesn’t completely make a parody of “The Room.” Much like “Ed Wood,” it instead shows a heartfelt story about artists trying to pursue their Hollywood dreams. While there’s plenty of comedy, most of the film could be described as a drama.
Because it’s a movie about Hollywood, you can be sure there are plenty of celebrity cameos. Some playing minor roles included Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, and Josh Hutcherson. Others play a character that may appear only once, like Bob Odenkirk, and some celebrities, of course, played themselves such as Judd Apatow and Bryan Cranston. These cameos make the movie a fun game of “Hey, I know that person.”
The crew did a great job of recreating “The Room” almost shot-for-shot. During the end credits, a montage is shown that compares the original footage of the film to the recreated material – they came really close. Some of the acting is also spot-on to “The Room.” The actors did a great job of giving believably bad performances.
Do you need to watch “The Room” before watching “The Disaster Artist?” Not really. In fact, you might be more baffled by the making of this unbelievably bad movie if you know nothing about it. Watching “The Room” first and then “The Disaster Artist” was a very enjoyable experience for me, but I wonder what it would be like to watch “The Disaster Artist” then “The Room” instead.
Oddly enough, if I was given the option between re-watching one of the two, I’d actually choose “The Room.” Despite it probably being the worst movie ever made and “The Disaster Artist” being a thousand times better, “The Room” is such a fun film to watch. “The Disaster Artist,” is still a really good film. Its very well-acted, well-directed and tells a satisfying story about history that is so strange, you couldn’t make it up.