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[Movie Review] The Disaster Artist (2017)

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Plot Summary: When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.

Director: James Franco

Writers: Scott Neustadter (screenplay by), Michael H. Weber (screenplay by)

Runtime: 1h 43min

Main Cast:

  • Zoey Deutch as Bobbi
  • Alison Brie as Amber
  • James Franco as Tommy Wiseau
  • Kristen Bell as Kristen Bell
  • Josh Hutcherson as Philip Haldiman
  • Zac Efron as Dan Janjigian
  • Dave Franco as Greg Sestero

Review by: Chris

The Room is a modern cult classic, a movie so absurd yet earnest it has spawned an insanely loyal and dedicated base. In an almost Rocky Horror Show style fandom, The Room has become the darling of the midnight showing, with people in costumes and the theaters going along with the gag. Its an experience, one just as confusing as the writer/director Tommy Wiseau. An enigma of a man in his boldness and his weirdly mysterious nature.  After the surprising explosion of fan love, Wiseau and "star" actor Greg Sestero became makeshift celebrities.  With their newfound cult fame, Greg co-wrote a book chronicling both the production of the film and his meeting/relationship with its auteur Tommy Wiseau. The book is "The Disaster Artist" and it is an amazing chronicle of an unique man, a story about redemption, about running away from your past, a story about doing whatever to follow whatever dream you have. It was an amazingly tragic, hilarious story and when James Franco read it and decided to make a movie adaption...he forgot all of that.

What I Liked:

James Franco found a sort of muse with Tommy Wiseau. Franco goes all in from the physical appearance from the distinct, unknown accent. He seems to embody the surface level of Mr. Wiseau, when the film shows reshot scenes from The Room film, its often a 1 to 1 match and it can be amazing how accurate they are to the original film. Many famous co-stars sit behind makeup that makes them spot on caricatures of the original cast and its fun discovering a new unexpected cameo. This kind of effort to completely capture the look of the film makes it a treat to the fanbase. I think that’s the best I can say about this film, it’s completely made for the midnight show crowd that are fans of the movie. So much of the fanservice serves the film like winks to the hardcore fans and those looking to laugh at better actors attempting to act badly will have a lot to look forward too. The cast had a ball playing dress up.    

What I Didn’t Like:

The biggest problem with this movie is that for all the effort that went into the look of the actors to mock the cast of the original, there was little to none in terms of actual storytelling or pacing.  It was hard to view this film on its own due to it hinting at and even setting up key moments of the book without any of the emotional lead-in or stakes.  Much of the film feels like a collection of skits based on stories about the film’s production.  Very few characters have real consequence to the overall story, they just get introduced so that the audience can smile at a cameo.  Too many scenes turn into, “OH I know that actor, what was the point of this scene?”. It’s frustrating because while I try to allow this film to stand on its own, it relies too much on the book and the original The Room film for not only its heart but its humor.

The film also does a great disservice to its star, Tommy Wisseau. Though Franco nails the impression of the man, none of the mystery exists in his portrayal. The questions the audience have about the kind of many Tommy is never get answered, instead, we just get Franco going from 0 to 11 of ridiculousness. It makes Tommy less of an enigma and more of a crazy person. Dave Franco also gives a less than alive performance as Greg, also only giving 2 levels of acting, sheepish and pissed off. The movie doesn’t attempt to make sense of their relationship and its the most important part of the film. Unfortunately, we don’t get to know any of these characters, they don’t seem to exist outside of the scenes we see them in.  We meet many of them as they meet each other without any backstory or pathos. For a movie as insane as The Room, one would assume the crew would be full of quirky characters, all with their own reasons and motivations for being in this trainwreck. Nope, nothing, we see them on set, some of them get fired, then show up again. Nobody on the set seems to matter to the filmmakers which put a lot more pressure into making the relationship between Tommy and Greg the focal point. But again, there is no heft or emotion to that conflict. Tommy confuses Greg, makes Greg do a thing, Greg gets angry, Tommy does something weird. That’s it. We get no look at what makes these men need each other, outside of the easily digestible: they share a dream. Coming from the book, it’s odd that this fact which makes the book and the story around this film so compelling get handled so lazily.

Images Courtesy of IMDB

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