A humorous yet poignant film that successfully tells an interesting story in part thanks to a fantastic leading actor
After being in production for over three years, James Franco’s The Disaster Artist will finally hit cinemas this December. Based on the revealing book co-written by the star of The Room, Greg Sestero, the film is both hilarious and heartfelt with a touching story about friendship at its core.
The film follows aspiring actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) as he befriends the enigmatic yet passionate Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) who shares his dream of making it big in Los Angeles. After moving out to Hollywood and finding themselves down on their luck though, Tommy decides to write his own movie, The Room, that he will also direct, edit, produce and star in. However, as production begins, it soon becomes clear to all involved that The Room is destined to fail and as filming becomes more intense, so too does Tommy and Greg’s already strained relationship.
Condensing as much from Sestero and Tom Bissell’s book as possible, The Disaster Artist successfully recounts the key events from Tommy and Greg’s past that, not only led to The Room’s conception, but that also give some of the reasons as to why the final film was so bad. The pacing is slightly rushed at the beginning with the story of Greg and Tommy’s initial friendship told very quickly, but once the two move out to L.A the film begins to settle down and really gets stuck into the centrepiece that is The Room‘s production.
The Disaster Artist is very much a comedy first with laugh out loud moments throughout. Thankfully, the film doesn’t take the easy route of simply recreating the most well-known parts of The Room, such as “oh hi mark”, but instead finds humour in everything before, during and after the film’s production. Such moments include Tommy’s lack of social awareness, his over the top antics and those around him reacting to all of it. Some of the film’s funniest moments have nothing to do with The Room itself but are instead purely down to the excellent writing and comedic timing of the actors.
Despite not relying on the original film though, where the film does mimic The Room is nothing short of fantastic. These recreated scenes are almost identical to the original with everything from Tommy’s hair flicks to the poor camera framing being painstakingly remade.
James Franco is nothing short of perfect as Tommy with his transformative performance carrying the movie from start to finish. Brother Dave is also great as the unsure yet supportive Greg and the two actors have great chemistry throughout. The rest of the cast also put in great performances with Seth Rogen convincingly pulling off The Room’s frustrated script supervisor, Sandy Schklair, and Ari Graynor also stands out as actor Juliette Danielle. What’s most impressive about the performances is that a lot of the cast take on both the actors who starred in The Room as well as the characters they played in it. For example, Josh Hutcherson embodies both Phillip Haldiman the actor, and Denny the character; convincingly pulling off both.
For all its humour, though, the film also tells a heartfelt story that covers friendship, loneliness and the drive to succeed. A lot of what Wiseau tried to include in The Room reflected many of his own dreams and insecurities and The Disaster Artist does an excellent job of reminding the audience that Tommy is also a person, and not just a figure to be laughed at. There are some truly touching moments between Tommy and Greg throughout the film and just as equally there are scenes where the former’s angry outbursts are difficult to stomach. It’s this balance between the humour and tragedy of Wiseau as a person that really makes The Disaster Artist such a surprisingly touching movie.
So, as many have predicted, The Disaster Artist is one of the surprise hits of the year. This is a well-written, brilliantly acted and truly funny movie that is driven by the clear love for the cult classic that is The Room. It tells an interesting story that says as much about the value of friendship and chasing your dreams as it does about bad filmmaking and is definitely worth seeing this December.
The Disaster Artist (2017), directed by James Franco, is distributed in the UK by Warner Bros and will be released on December 6th, certificate 15.