When you love a book as much as I love ‘The Disaster Artist’, finally seeing its big screen incarnation after months (if not years) of anticipation can be harrowing, to say the least. It’s funny - I’ve never had an issue with it before. The best example I can give is the ‘Harry Potter’ series. Despite possessing such a vivid image of this incredible world in my head, I was still open to interpretation. In fact, I welcomed it. The idea that multiple people can read the exact same thing yet come up with completely different ideas fascinated me. I embraced it. What if their idea was better? What if I took a little bit of theirs and mine to create something far exceeding anyone's expectations? It goes a little bit differently when a tale is anything but fantasy - it’s real life.
The movie ‘The Room’ defines infamy. It’s a movie that has taken on a life and a fandom of its own that nobody saw coming. In 2013, ‘The Room’s’ co-star, “fixer” and BFF to its auteur Tommy Wiseau dared put pen to paper to answer the questions long asked, like: Why? How? No seriously, why and how? It’s quite the page-turner. Wiseau himself has been noted as saying that he wanted James Franco to play him should the opportunity ever arise. Well, it comes as absolutely no surprise that someone like Franco could find himself so drawn to such a character as Tommy Wiseau. The pull so strong Franco optioned the book himself and decided to produce, star and direct the adaptation. And now here we are today.
‘The Disaster Artist’ starts with a terrified 19-year-old Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) performing in front of his acting class, paralysed by fear. Up next is his enigmatic classmate Tommy (James Franco), who butchers a Brando impersonation in ‘A Street Car Named Desire’ - but boy, you can’t look away. A shared dream of becoming Hollywood stars and believing they can learn something from one another, Greg and Tommy become fast friends, eventually moving from San Francisco to LA together to pursue said dream. When Hollywood rejects Tommy - hard - he sets about making his own movie for the pair to star in. This is their story. What follows is the epic and disaster-laden film shoot controlled by megalomaniac Tommy who knows nothing about filmmaking and cannot act to save himself. But what is to become of the final product?
I love that this story has been told, and I think the casting is spot-on with James Franco turning in an amazing portrayal of Wiseau. I just feel that the story misses the mark just that little bit. In the film, Greg Sestero champions the film the entire time, even helping to usher the final product into its new concept as a ridiculous comedy of errors. In reality, every single person - especially Greg - except Tommy knew ‘The Room’ was a pile of crap. Only Tommy could see his vision and only Tommy could make it happen. And he did; one of the many reasons that makes him so unique. I also felt that they made Tommy too sympathetic. As portrayed in the book, he’s a compulsive lair, manipulator, suffers from serial jealousy, is seriously paranoid, and has some anger issues. ‘The Disaster Artist’ tends to gloss over most of these things and end on the note that he’s just a man chasing his dream after Hollywood rejects him. Tear. Now everyone can relate, right?
I don’t want to put this movie down. I really enjoyed it - but this story doesn’t fit the Hollywood narrative it’s forcing itself into.
I don’t want to put this movie down. I really enjoyed it. I think the cast looks like they're having the time of their lives on that screen; they have a lot to work with. But there are too many superstar cameos - Bryan Cranston! What the hell are you doing here? You didn’t feature in the real-life story, nor does Judd Apatow - each one exciting and hilarious, but each one also distracting you from the fact that this story doesn’t fit the Hollywood narrative it’s forcing itself into. There is so much more than what Franco decides to put on the screen. It needed to be more about the people and the "how’ instead of the "what".
Funnily enough, the best part of the movie comes from the side-by-side recreations of the real film to alarming precision, right down to the physical gestures and uncanny line deliveries. And can someone please give Ari Graynor her own damn movie already, she’s magnificent!
RUN TIME: 01h 44m
|June Diane Raphael|
|Michael H. Weber|