The Disaster Artist is a show biz tale about the making of The Room, which is the worst movie ever made. Its absolute inept storytelling and abysmal acting has earned it with the distinction of being the Citizen Kane of bad movies. Director/actor James Franco turns that seeming dishonor into a much more sublime journey of friendship and perseverance.
Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is a struggling actor who is immediately captivated by Tommy Wiseau’s (James Franco) passionate yet absolutely out there performance during acting class. Wiseau beats to the tune of a different drummer, and Sestero is immediately captivated by his spontaneous friend (the pair drive to the spot where James Dean was killed during the dead of night). This bond eventually leads them to Los Angeles where they pursue their thespian dreams (Sharon Stone has a brief cameo as Sestero’s agent).
Seeing Sestero’s frustration over the lack of opportunities coming his way, Wiseau decides to write a screenplay that will be toplined by both of them, thus leading into the formation of The Room. Armed with an impressively solvent bank account, Wiseau is determined to make a film that spotlights their mutual artistry.
Other filmmakers would have taken this true story (it’s based on Sestero’s book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made) and turned it into a biting satire on the vagaries of movie making. Another storytelling approach would probably focus on Sestero and Wiseau’s lack of talent, humorously mocking them for their failed film.
But Franco has deeper things on his mind, and he turns The Disaster Artist into a surprisingly evocative look at an unlikely friendship that can weather the harshest of storms. A substantial portion of the narrative centers on the making of The Room, and it’s filled with very funny moments with Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, and Josh Hutcherson, just to name a few. Watching the cast and crew try their honest best to make The Room a good film, even with the well meaning but ultimately egomaniacal Wiseau controlling all aspects of production, is must see viewing that will garner its share of attention.
The emotional anchor of the film rests on the chemistry between the Francos, as their affection for each other immediately pulls us into Sestero and Wiseau’s friendship. When their movie finally premieres to an unsuspecting audience, and the laughter unfurls, we hope these buddies find a way out of this ridicule, and without giving too much away, they both learn to appreciate The Room in an entirely different light.
Franco’s diverse talents as a novelist, teacher, director, and actor have also been criticized over the years, and it’s easy to see why he sees a bit of a kinship with Wiseau. Both men are passionate about creating projects with the ones they love, and one would assume he poured his heart and soul into The Disaster Artist. Though it may not be considered the worst movie of all time, The Disaster Room is definitely the Citizen Kane of James Franco movies and one of my favorite films of 2017.
The Disaster Artist, co-staring Alison Brie and Jackie Weaver, opens nationwide today.