By: Luke Parker, Columnist
Featured image courtesy of forgetfulfilmcritic.com
Say what you will about “The Room;” say what you will about its sub-bland performances, its unhuman dialogue, its spoons, its mysterious $6 million budget, or its drastically more mysterious auteur, Tommy Wiseau, but you cannot deny this disasterpiece of the passion that went into its creation. As the world underprepares itself to experience “The Room” for the first time towards the end of “The Disaster Artist,” James Franco’s own passion project that banks off of Wiseau’s, Tommy (Franco) takes to the stage for a brief introduction, which sums up the oddly encompassing appeal behind both projects in six words: “this my movie, this my life.”
Sure, “The Room” is not a great film – gaining an illustrious cult status, it has since been dubbed the “Citizen Kane of bad movies” – and in no way does “The Disaster Artist” suggest that it is; many of Franco’s funniest scenes are simply reenactments of the hilariously awful scenes the real Wiseau never intended on being funny. This great film is rather based on the dreams behind and the accomplishment of filmmaking.
It’s an accomplishment which doesn’t come easy to Wiseau or to Greg Sestero (David Franco) who first meet in a San Francisco acting class. Greg, who has a tough time with stage fright, is instantly drawn to Tommy, who on the other hand, with his long black locks and three or four belts, bombards his audience with an amplified Stanley Kowalski while tossing and turning about as if demonically possessed.
An odd friendship brews between them, and soon Greg and Tommy are on their way to Los Angeles, where Wiseau has a second apartment on hand; his pockets run waydeep. There, they try and fail to break into the movie business. Though Greg takes tiny steps, going as far as landing an agent, Tommy hilariously verifies his lack of talent time and time again. Hope quickly fades, but Tommy is at last inspired by Greg to direct and star in his own movie, with Sestero in the supporting role.
“The Disaster Artist” hones in on Greg and Tommy’s friendship, consistently citing it as the driving force behind The Room. The real life Sestero did the same, shedding additional light in his “tell all” book upon which the film is based. Combined with the increasingly frantic and desperate production process, their friendship is placed at the heart of the movie, which is surprisingly large.
“The Room” may not have turned out exactly the way Tommy or Greg wanted, but at least it turned out, and there are a select few in their position who can say that. But there are plenty who wish they could. This is a love letter to those who dream so big only to fail so masterfully, and a reminder that in any capacity, the fulfillment of a dream is a gift.
Franco as the eccentric creator sweeps through “The Disaster Artist” with an unreal commanding presence. In a show stealing and Golden Globe-winning performance, the director and star embodies the distinct Wiseau in near method fashion. He captures the quirks – the peculiar “New Orleans” accent, the graceful clumsiness, and even the laugh – and humorously guides us through the story, even as Wiseau’s mind depresses and turns vile.
But what is probably the most endearing part about “The Disaster Artist” – and the one members of the cult will surely value the most –is that there is an obvious appreciation for “The Room” and its creator. It’s not like the laughs directed at Tommy here are done with a ten-foot pole like many have been in the past. Through Franco, dimensionality and personality other than foolishness is finally added to Wiseau and his picture, though the film points out that there are still plenty of unanswered questions.
To call “The Room” art would be a stretch, but a sequence at the beginning of this film in which real celebrities speak of its impact, and another at the end that exhibits the attention to detail which Franco and his costars took in their recreations of its obsessed-over scenes each prove that the creator is exactly what many “Disaster Artist’s” viewers are, myself included: a fan.