The Disaster Artist (R)

Based on Greg Sestero’s book of the same title which tells the true story of the making of the movie, The Room (2003) and his relationship with The Room’s writer, director, producer, and star, Tommy Wiseau, The Disaster Artist is directed by and stars James Franco and costars his brother Dave (who plays Greg Sestero). Wiseau is a flailing aspiring actor who moves to Hollywood with his best (and only) friend and fellow aspiring actor (Greg) in pursuit of fame, despite the fact that Wiseau is truly, truly untalented. Wiseau is a man with delusions of grandeur. What he lacked in talent and common sense, he more than made up for in disposable funds. He spent an estimated $6 million to finance his “masterwork”; known in the industry as the best bad movie ever made (26% on the tomatometer; 3.6 out of 10 stars on imdb. Not that I put any stock into ratings such as these, but just to give you an idea of what we are dealing with here). The Room grossed less than $2,000 its opening weekend, but has since become somewhat of a cult classic with the legend of the movie outshining the movie itself.

Along with his talent-free status, Wiseau is portrayed as a socially and emotionally (and perhaps developmentally) challenged, self-indulgent, ego driven individual who surrounds himself with “yes men” and appears to have no true friends. His only “true” friend is Greg (Dave Franco) but, due to whatever Wiseau’s shortcomings may be (it is mentioned he was involved in a very serious car accident) he lacks the social capabilities to maintain a “normal” friendship.

James Franco does some of the best acting I’ve ever seen him do here. Don’t get me wrong. He’s no “Brando” all of a sudden – nor does he have to be. And I’m no great fan so I’ve not seen every piece of work he’s ever done. The last thing I reviewed with him in it is Why Him, which was painfully unfunny (see my review in the link if you care to). He found a role that fits him perfectly as he plays this truly talentless, oddball with this terribly thick European-sounding accent (I say European-sounding because there was so much that was unknown about Tommy it could have all very well been a put-on.  Who knows?). Tommy is exhaustively full of energy and one of those people who feels the need to be “on” all the time. He is easily offended and wounded. He is difficult to relate to and understand (not only because of his thick accent, but the meaning of his actual words are difficult to decipher; his affect is flat and his reactions are not congruent to those around him). He is truly a caricature of himself. I grew tired just watching him and couldn’t imagine having to deal with such a person on a regular basis (unless he were my own child, and honestly, even then it would be challenging, to be completely honest with you all); much less working for or with such a person. Franco does a great job carrying this film with Wiseau’s wackiness; as it is Wiseau’s wackiness that on the one hand endears the character to the audience, and on the other hand, makes it difficult for the audience to garner sympathy for him, at times.

The story is well written. It is truly beyond comical at times, and I laughed through much of this movie because this character and the circumstances surrounding him are all just so ridiculous it’s hard to accept that all of this, or some version of this, really happened. The movie, The Room, is the proof that it actually happened! When the gravity sinks in that this man has a real problem relating to others, is somewhat of a power hungry control freak, a bit of an a-hole, and is immature in that he has unrealistic expectations of others and the world, it’s not so funny anymore. It gets kind of sad – but sad in a good way. Sad in a way that makes the story more interesting and shows many sides of this flawed, rich, arrogant, kind of crazy, sometimes lovable, mysterious, kind of slow but only manipulatively so, demanding, sometimes generous person. This character is fleshed out well and the viewer gets the full magnitude of what working with Wiseau must have been like for everyone involved in this terrible film of his.

The Disaster Artist earned  8 out of 10 bloops. It is not a movie without flaws, but it is a solidly funny and interesting movie based on one man’s original, true story, that is absolutely worth seeing. If you’re a Franco fan, it should not be missed. Franco’s performance earns 8.5 out of 10 bloops. He really did well. I’ve never seen The Room but I have to admit that now I want to, if only to see how laughably terrible it is. If you are interested in seeing The Room on the big screen there will be an 11:55 p.m. show at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema on Houston Street in NYC this upcoming Friday.

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1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

What I’m reviewing next…

Lady Bird

I still have to see Coco, Wonder, Wonder Wheel, 1945, I Tonya, and The Florida Project. Whew! I am behind.

What I’m absolutely seeing this week

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – I’m going to see this one for you all, not for myself.  I’m not expecting much but will go in with an open mind.
The Greatest Showman – I have passes to see a preview on 12/18!

Other Reviews

The Greatest Showman
Call Me By Your Name
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul
Thor: Ragnarok
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Kong: Skull Island
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out
Hidden Figures
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

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