The Disaster Artist

Cult Figure

         
 

01 December 2017| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

 

I was worried it would be too goofy and irreverent, but I was surprised by the depth of what was told. The Disaster Artist is an offbeat biopic on Tommy Wiseau, an infamous director of a legendary awful movie for our time whose 15-minutes of fame has been stretched out much longer than that. The movie in question was “The Room” which made $1,800 in box office sales in 2003, but since then, has gone onto make a gradual profit. I discovered the movie in 2011 when its cult status was just too voluble to ignore. It was a staggeringly awful movie with Wiseau playing a jilted boyfriend who exacts revenge, getting back at his tramp girlfriend and backstabbing friend – by hurting himself! The real intrigue for me began after I saw the movie, when I decided to look up every article on the internet on Wiseau (I couldn’t stop reading interviews on him multiple times), and I quickly surmised how strange this mystery guy was. The movie and internet material on Wiseau and “The Room” itself made for a heck of two days’ worth of entertainment at the time.

The movie does justice in filling in the extra blanks of stuff I didn’t know about Wiseau.

“The Disaster Artist,” with its wry, affectionate yet critical and self-deprecating tone, probably became possible because of Tim Burton’s classic “Ed Wood” which was also about a bad director with zeal who made the worst movie ever made, “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” Certainly “The Room” was the worst movie as in worst inept movie since then. “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” is the worst movie since “The Room,” but it’s probably a less interesting story.

James Franco, who has directed “The Disaster Artist,” has gone full Hollyweird and stars as Wiseau. I doubted his abilities to fill Wiseau’s shoes for about a minute, and then it became uncanny: the eastern European warble of language that comes out of his month, the foppish hair, the stinging staring eyes. James Franco is Tommy Wiseau, in a way that’s beautiful and hideous. If anything, Franco should have worn sunglasses more often since the real Wiseau worse his sunglasses to everything, even inside movie theaters.

Residing in San Francisco at first, Wiseau has a mysterious bottomless bank account. He befriends an actor workshop classmate in Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), who is something of a flat actor missing the kind of life experience that molds great actors. The two of them work up the gusto to move to Los Angeles where they can make it as actors. Instead, Sestero gets all the auditions and an actors’ agency signing, and Wiseau is shut-out. Telling moment that Wiseau just doesn’t mesh well with most human beings: he is jealous within fifteen seconds that Sestero is talking to another girl. That girl is played by the thoroughly charming Alison Brie, who is underused in this movie and underused in movies in general.

Since Wiseau can’t break into movies, he decides to make his own. Lacking the understanding he can just rent movie set equipment, he decides to buy everything. “The Disaster Artist” has plenty of on-set incidents remembered (you almost wish this movie as an hour longer to include everything). Wiseau also disowns everybody, and gets sometimes abusive on the set mainly with his script supervisor, his assistant director and his actresses. “The Disaster Artist” is a comedy, but it has some uncompromising dramatic moments about a loser chasing stardom who doesn’t seem to belong in this universe. (Everyone else are the ones betraying him.) The movie is sometimes a tad ambivalent about how Sestero feels about Wiseau, because there’s a vague suggestion that he stays friends with Wiseau out of pity.

Dave gets an offer to appear on a hit TV show while he is making “The Room,” but it is part of Wiseau’s dictatorship mindset to disallow Sestero from going. Wiseau refuses to change the shooting schedule. This leads to a fallout, and that should have given an excuse for Sestero to end the friendship. Dave Franco in no way gives a great performance, he’s too boyish and not man-ish enough, he’s a little too gee whiz about everything, but he’s got the kindness and patience of the real guy down pat. We comprehend that Sestero was a devoted fellow who doesn’t give up on anyone.

There’s no denying the ultimate deliciousness of “The Room” premiere and its first audience reaction dramatized. It was a laff riot for them, and we share in on that laff riot. In an affectionate yet sincere way, I was convinced that “The Disaster Artist” was a story worth telling. If you can, see “The Room” right away and then go see “The Disaster Artist.”

105 Minutes. Rated R.

BIOGRAPHICAL DRAMA / OLDER TEENS / WEIRDNESS 

Film Cousins: “Plan 9 From Outer Space” (1959); “Ed Wood” (1994); “The Room” (2003); “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” (2010).

Disaster_Artist_2017 FlickMinute_review _Comedy-Drama_ James_Franco

Summary
Reviewer
Sean Chavel
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Reviewed Item
The Disaster Artist
Author Rating
3
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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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