In the same vain as Tim Burton’s 1994 film Ed Wood, The Disaster Artist documents the making of what is widely considered one of the worst films of all time, The Room. Written and directed by Hollywood outsider Tommy Wiseau, The Room is an absurd and perplexing piece of cinema full of unintentionally humorous scenes, bizarre writing, and atrocious acting. Despite the film’s irrationality, The Room maintains a massive cult following, with frequent midnight showings across the U.S. still a popular occasion. And with so much mystery and fascination surrounding The Room, it was only a matter of time before we got a feature film about the topic.
It becomes evident within the first few minutes that The Disaster Artist was a passion project for Franco, and that he (like many of us) loved The Room with the same level of comedic fervor.
Franco as Tommy Wiseau is as hilarious as it is uncanny. His performance as the eccentric actor/director is hard to get a grasp on, as his character remains quite idiosyncratic and secretive throughout the entire film. Wiseau, for example, speaks with a slurred but strong Eastern European accent, yet adamantly asserts he’s from Louisiana. Wiseau also miraculously funded The Room entirely on his own, spending more than five million dollars to produce it. Only, nobody ever understood where and how he got the money to do so.
And from interviews I’ve seen with the real Wiseau, Franco captured this awkward demeanor incredibly well; pulling off what I consider to be my favorite role of his yet.
The rest of the cast, featuring such talent as Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, and Josh Hutcherson, all give wonderful performances as well, elevating The Disaster Artist in numerous ways. Seth Rogen as Sandy Schklair (the script supervisor) acts as the main form of comic relief, as film continuity proves to be less than useful in Wiseau’s production. Dave Franco as Greg Sestero (an actor who befriends Tommy and stars in The Room) allows the audience to see a more sensitive side to the usually unpleasant Tommy Wiseau.
The Disaster Artist documents the mysterious and baffling nature behind the making of The Room, however it sadly doesn’t say much about it. The one key feature that this film desperately lacks is a central point of focus. More specifically, The Disaster Artist needed more of a purpose. Sure, the film details the making of The Room with a brilliantly keen sense of self -awareness, but what does have to say about Wiseau and his big Hollywood movie? What does the mere existence of The Room mean for filmmaking and aspiring filmmakers? Is it possible that any blindly passionate individual with enough conceit can rise to infamous Hollywood stardom?
Those with a vehement love of The Room will have the most to gain from watching The Disaster Artist, while others with no frame of reference will likely find themselves bored. Already having extensive knowledge on the subject allowed me to enjoy watching The Disaster Artist with a heightened sense of awareness and understanding for the strange events that unfolded. I more than enjoyed watching it, and I hope that others will respect the enthusiasm and love Franco put into his tribute to one of the most bizarre films ever made.
The Verdict: A-