The Disaster Artist - 2017
Director(s): James Franco
Writer(s): Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (screenplay) / Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell (book)
Cinematography by: Brandon Trost
Editor(s): Stacey Schroeder
Cast: Dave Franco, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Paul Scheer and the rest of Hollywood.
Synopsis: Based on the book "The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made", we follow Greg and Tommy and how they, against all odds, made their dreams of starring in a movie come true.
If this movie wasn’t based on a true story my suspension of disbelief would’ve caved-in on itself about 10 minutes in. If I hadn’t seen, heard and experienced Tommy Wiseau, I would’ve dismissed James Franco’s performance as terrible. If I hadn’t seen the movie, The Room, I would’ve walked away thinking that it was impossible that a movie like that could exist. But I knew, I experienced and I watched The Room before walking into my screening and it still managed to feel unreal. While this movie is at times funny, at times cringe-worthy and at times sad, my main takeaway was feeling inspired. Tommy Wiseau had a dream and even with everyone closing their doors on his face, he decided to build his own door to his own world wherein he was a writer, director, producer and star of the greatest movie of all time.
James Franco as Tommy Wiseau gave his best performance of his entire career. I have always enjoyed James to a certain extent - never been blown away by him, but also never walked away from one of his movies thinking he was the problem. James as Tommy felt as if he completely embodied the character and became that person. Everything from the way he talked to his body language let me know he took his time studying his subject and understanding how and why Tommy talked and moved that way. I know it’s a bit cliché and it didn’t happen for the entire runtime but at times I forgot I was watching James and bought that I was watching Tommy. That’s until his co-lead came on screen I was jolted out of the submersion, because Dave Franco just played Dave Franco.
I don’t want to bash or talk crap about the guy. Dave Franco, from everything I have seen about him, is a perfectly nice guy. But with James giving the greatest performance of his career, Dave just sticks out like a sore thumb since they share so much screen time. There was no nuance, no distinct characteristic or even a scene where he gives the audience anything to show that he is Greg Sestero and not Dave Franco. It feels a little unfair to single him out since the rest of the cast falls in the same trap of playing themselves, but I guess I wanted more from the co-lead.
Quick note: I made a joke in the cast as “the rest of Hollywood”, but it definitely feels that way. In a weird way, this movie feels like a spiritual sequel to 2013’s This Is the End, with cameo after cameo throughout the runtime. Not a critique, just an observation.
The screenplay Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber wrote is stellar. It has the right balance of comedy and drama, never fully favoring one or the other. Despite me walking away with more questions than I walked in with - Where did he get his money? Where is his family? Where is he from? - I feel Tommy was fully fleshed out and I completely identified with him. I know what it is to have a goal nobody understands or sees. I know what it feels like to be dismissed as just another one in a line to “success”. Tommy, despite his flaws and his insecurities, always stayed true to his dreams and goals. He even took Greg under his wing and helped him achieve his dreams as well. Honestly, this is the last thing I expected from this film: to be inspired.
The Disaster Artist is a good movie. It’s far from perfect and I can’t help to think of what it would be in the hands of a more seasoned director, but I had a blast. An unbelievable story on top of a stellar performance by its lead, elevates this movie above the rest of the comedies that came out this year. I walked away laughing and inspired and that’s why I love movies.
The Disaster Artist is currently playing in theaters. If you don’t watch it you will tear me apart.
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