"The Disaster Artist" Review
They say James Franco has made too many bad films. While I can partly agree with that statement, I like to look at his filmography as preparation for his role in his new film The Disaster Artist. Being both director and actor, Franco’s film follows the true story behind the making of the worst film ever made, The Room.
If we’re going to learn about the true story about the worst film ever, then we’re first going to have to learn about the people who made it. The main focus of the plot is about the friendship between struggling actors Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. They each have little talent and try to look for work in Los Angeles. After months of auditions and rejections, Tommy decides that in order to get noticed he will need to write and direct his own movie. He finishes his script and with Greg alongside him, shoots his passion project, The Room. Things quickly get out of hand and the quality of the film sinks from really bad to historically bad.
Franco observes Tommy’s life as a sort of biopic and documentary mixed together. At the beginning, we have various real-life celebrities telling us how influential The Room is and how it should inspire everyone. We do get some background on Tommy and Greg, and how their friendship came to be. It’s an almost sweet tale where lovable losers are our protagonists.
The film also has a low quality feel and look to it. It resembles the source material for this story and works well at establishing a happy go lucky tone.
One thing Franco stumbles on is giving us enough material on the making of the film. The first hour is spent on the friendship and then about half an hour is spent on the production of the film. This was a shame because the production was the best part and should have had more time to fully develop.
Franco clearly has a message to tell about this film, and it’s one that closely parallels his career path. Franco has never been afraid of trying different roles and methods. It’s lead to some of his highest points, such as 127 Hours and Spring Breakers, and also his lows, such as Why Him?. Here, Franco uses Wiseau as the embodiment of the artistic spirit to do what you're passionate about. Wiseau has no talent and little outside support, but that doesn’t matter as he won’t let anything stop his movie. It’s a call to arms for artists everywhere that you should do everything you set your mind to no matter your limitations.
The acting in this film is both hit and miss, especially among its two leads. James Franco delivers one of his best performances ever as Wiseau. He goes all in at lampooning Wiseau’s weird European accent all while having the same vampire look. Playing Sestero is James’ real-life brother Dave, who has had a small string of successful parts in the Now You See Me and Neighbors franchise. Dave can’t hold his smile back and doesn’t really pull off the more emotional bits of the film. He has some charm and innocence, but he doesn’t have the look or skills to make himself memorable.
Filling the star-powered supporting cast is Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Alison Brie, Zac Efron, and Hannibal Buress. They all play real people associated with the production of the infamous film. Rogen gets the necessary time for him to flex his comedic chops, but everyone else is subjected to cameo bits that restrict them.
James Franco’s talent as a comedic actor and director has allowed him to make a lighthearted film that tells an uplifting tale that isn’t overplayed. Franco still has much to learn, but he’s quickly growing as a filmmaker and isn’t afraid to tackle a new project. Here’s hoping he can follow up this film with something worthwhile.