The Disaster Artist (2017) Movie Review
Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
If you’ve forced yourself to see writer/director/producer Tommy Wiseau’s truly awful cult classic (for whatever reason) The Room (2003), you know that sooner or later you or your friends are going to start quoting its most famous lines like no one has ever done it before…
“Frankly my dear, I don’t give a – oh Hai Mahhhhrk”.
“You had me at Cheep, Cheep, Cheep…”
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner. She had a dozen guys. One of them found out about it... beat her up so bad she ended up at a hospital on Guerrero Street”.
And something about Lisa tearing someone else apart. Ask your hipster friends. They’ll know.
It’s kismet that someone like James Franco would be the one to tell the story of how The Room got made since he seems like a very peculiar artist himself and ever since his Oscar nomination for 127 Hours in 2010, 4 out of every 5 movies he makes has been a disaster. Franco has reached NicCagean/MarkWahlberian/SamJacksonian levels of output in terms of projects released in a short amount of time. None of his 128 movies since 127 Hours have reached the level of quality Franco achieves with The Disaster Artist.
The Disaster Artist is very good, but the story feels a little too familiar and hits too many predictable beats to really qualify as great. Fortunately, whenever the storytelling flags a little you’re treated to a recreation of scenes from The Room, which never fails to get a laugh. Anyway, how’s your sex life?
TDA begins San Francisco circa 1998. Roy Moore is stalking the preteen who squeezes the lemons at Hot Dog on A Stick. Awful actor Greg Sestero (played by James Franco’s brother Dave Franco lest you think it’s coincidence they have the same last name) is at an acting class being self-conscious, one thing you’re not supposed to do if you want to be an actor.
Greg’s classmate Tommy (Dave Franco’s brother James Franco, lest you think it’s coincidence they have the same last name) has no self-consciousness whatsoever. He also has no discernible talent, but that’s never really stopped people from becoming actors.
Greg gathers up the courage to ask Tommy to be his scene partner. Tommy agrees. In one of the movie’s best scenes set in a diner, Tommy helps Greg break out of his shell just a little.
A friendship is struck. Soon Greg and Tommy are moving to LA to become for-really-reals Hollywood actors.
Greg quickly gets an agent, but no jobs or money. Tommy has no agent, but he (inexplicably) has endless amounts of cash. They soon realize, as 99.98% of actors do in LA, that they are unemployable talentless hacks.
If they’re going to make it in Hollywood, they’re going to have to do unspeakable things with the Weinsteins or pony up the dough for their own vanity project.
(Un)Fortunately, Tommy has spent the past weeks/months writing a screenplay (“like Tennessee William”) called The Room. We all know what happened and the world is worse off for it.
What Works With The Disaster Artist Other Than "I Did Not Hit Her"
- No matter who you are, the first time you see The Room, you’re going to try Tommy Wiseau’s uh, distinct accent. Wiseau-ing is the new Christopher Walken-ing in that everyone tries it, but very few people are good at it. James Franco is good at it as playing Wiseau is Franco’s best individual performance in years after a string of perfs where all he does is look bored and his monotone line deliveries are mistaken for “intensity” (2015’s True Story). Wiseau’s accent seems to have freed Franco, as he also shows Wiseau’s vulnerability beneath the bravado Wiseau realizes that The Room may be the worst thing ever made. Chewing scenery never felt or looked so fun.
- Again, the recreations of The Room’s most indelible scenes are the closest you’ll come to seeing pure joy on the screen. From “Hai Doggie” to the oddest Breast Cancer line ever, it’s magnetic seeing good actors playing terrible actors.
- Of the near dozen Franco’s famous friends cameos, only Seth Rogen (unsurprisingly) manages to create a character with what little he’s given on the page. He gets the funniest non-Wiseau lines of the movie.
- The funniest credit cookies of the year. So much fan service in 5-7 minutes.
What Tears You Apart About This Movie Lisa?
- Dave Franco’s real-life wife Alison Brie barely registers as a character playing “the Girl” as her part seems to have been cut drastically. It’s mostly a series of cutaways and disapproving looks.
- You actually have to sit through The Room to see The Disaster Artist. There’s no escaping it…and I’m sorry.
- That dog in the flower shop is probably dead by now.
The Disaster Artist is far from a disaster and is James Franco’s best film in years. It teaches you to follow your dreams no matter how stupid and pointless they are. Unless you suck and have no talent. Then you should give up.
See The Disaster Artist and treat it like a party. Invite all your friends. Good Thinking!