Directed by James Franco
Starring James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen
Film Review by Hannah Sayer
The making of one of the worst films ever made transforms into one of the best comedies of the year in James Franco’s The Disaster Artist. Based on Greg Sestero’s novel The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Film Ever Made, James Franco directs himself as the bizarre and mysterious Tommy Wiseau. Greg Sestero, played by Dave Franco, is nineteen years old and an aspiring actor when he meets Tommy Wiseau during an acting class in San Francisco. They become friends and Greg decides to move to Los Angeles with Tommy where they begin looking for acting jobs. When both of their careers in Hollywood are failing to take off, Tommy takes matters into his own hands and decides to write, direct and star in his own movie: The Room. The Disaster Artist follows the chaotic production of the film which has since become a cult hit fourteen years since its initial release.
It is not necessary to have seen The Room to be thoroughly entertained by The Disaster Artist yet it’s worth being aware of the story to appreciate how James Franco expertly captures the character of Tommy Wiseau in his performance. His comedic timing as Tommy is excellent and the film perfectly captures a balanced tone which doesn’t allow the film to verge too closely to ridiculing Tommy. The script and the direction maintain a balance which encourages laughter constantly but it is not aimed too much at the character. It is more concerned with laughing at the events of the bizarre making of the film and the odd experiences that take place behind the scenes.
It seems like the production of The Disaster Artist would have been a lot of fun for all involved as it reunites friends and collaborators. This is the first time that James and Dave Franco have worked together and their bond works well in establishing the friendship between Tommy and Greg. They recreated up to twenty five minutes of footage of the original film and it is a wonder that the cast and crew managed to get used to James Franco directing them when putting on Tommy’s voice, as he reportedly kept this up throughout the shoot. Seth Rogen is hilarious in his role as the script supervisor and the film is a star studded affair with a supporting cast which includes Alison Brie, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson and Jacki Weaver. The film also boasts a tremendous array of celebrity cameos including Bryan Cranston, Judd Apatow and Sharon Stone.
This is James Franco’s best performance since his Academy Award nominated role in Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours (2011) and there’s a strong chance he could make his way into the Best Actor race again for the second time. He has previously directed film adaptations of John Steinbeck and William Faulkner, as well as directed for television including two episodes of this year’s critically acclaimed HBO series The Deuce. However, The Disaster Artist is his first real triumph as a director. He succeeds in making the film accessible for both cinemagoers that are new to the story as well as fans of the original film. The comedy and the story itself is enough to surprise and be entertaining for general cinemagoers but the intricate details and references to The Room which are included will delight fans of the original film.
The Disaster Artist received a well deserved standing ovation after its premiere at the South by Southwest film festival in March 2017. It could have been a making of story which only served to ridicule the bizarre character that is Tommy Wiseau, yet The Disaster Artist is a real crowd-pleaser as well as being a genuinely heartfelt and affectionate film about artistic endeavour and creative ambition which remains infectiously hilarious throughout. It is an oddly inspirational and poignant story about an outsider with a crazy ambition which became a reality.