James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” tells the story of how “the worst film ever made” came to be. In 2003, a mysterious man named Tommy Wiseau created the film “The Room,” which quickly became a cult classic as the worst film ever. Years later, Greg Sestero wrote a book about his experience with Wiseau and their creation of the film. “The Disaster Artist” tells Sestero’s hilariously incomprehensible real life story.
The film follows Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), a struggling actor in Northern California. He befriends eccentric oddball Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and they move to Los Angeles, where they attempt to succeed in Hollywood. After realizing doing so is not an easy task, the two decide to make their own movie: “The Room.” Featuring an all-star cast including Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Josh Hutcherson and Zac Efron, the film dives into the disastrous and inane creation of Tommy Wiseau’s vision.
With comedic stars like Franco brothers, Seth Rogen, Jason Mantzoukas, Hannibal Buress and Paul Scheer, the film is often a-laugh-out-loud comedy. The sheer absurdity of the situations and struggles faced by the cast and crew of “The Room” is nothing short of ridiculous, but the fact that it is based on a true story creates another level of comedy. The actors’ comedic timing is perfect. Franco’s direction keeps the pace of the film chugging along.
The movie is much more than a comedy, however. It’s also a film about relationships, triumph, sacrifice and acceptance. Tommy Wiseau is, in a sense, a tragic character. He is never honest about his age, his whereabouts, or the originos of his wealth. To this day, the real-life Wiseau still hasn’t divulged this information. He and refuses to accept he might not be everything he thinks he is. As the film continues and the crew starts to turn on Tommy, it’s easy to sympathize with him. He believes he is doing everything he can to make a real Hollywood movie; he just doesn’t understand what that means.
The characters’ relationships drive home the film’s emotional impact. Greg and Tommy are the stars of the show, and their friendship and move to L.A. paint a picture of how close the two became despite Wiseau’s ridiculousness. As Greg grows and meets more people, such as his girlfriend Amber (Alison Brie), his friendship with Wiseau starts to crumble. The effects are noticeable for Wiseau, whose only friend is Greg. At certain points, it feels like Wiseau is only making “The Room” for Greg.
The film’s most important aspect is Franco’s portrayal of Tommy Wiseau. Franco truly loses himself in the role and adopts a persona that few can replicate. The actual Tommy Wiseau is such an absurd individual in just about every way possible that it’s Franco’s accuracy is impressive. It might seem like Franco is just attempting to be as crazy as possible for laughs, but he’s actually doing Tommy justice as a character. Franco nails small details such as Tommy’s unplaceable accent, the way he grips his Red Bulls with his fist, and his wandering and glazed stare, which are spot-on and create an incredible performance.
“The Disaster Artist” is almost too ridiculous to be believed. Much like its source material, it requires more than one viewing. The performances, direction and accuracy make it one of the better biopics released in recent years. Tommy faces tragedy in his failure and inability to accept himself, but his capacity for self-awareness eventually allows him to come to terms with both his film and himself.