In the grand scheme of things, I haven’t been a fan of The Room (2003) for long. The first time I saw it was at the Tribeca Film Festival about 3 years ago and Rifftrax was doing a live show to commemorate the cult following that The Room has attained. Since then I’ve watched the film maybe two or three other times because let’s be honest, it’s a little difficult to get through because it is THAT bad. However, I do enjoy how much of a cult classic it’s become and I’m incredibly fascinated with the mastermind behind it, Tommy Wiseau. Fast-forward to a year after my first viewing and my boyfriend informs me that there is a book titled “The Disaster Artist” that I have to read, and man oh man, what a glorious vortex of insanity that book is.
THE DISASTER ARTIST, both the book and the new film from James Franco, is brought to us from the perspective of Greg Sestero, the lead actor in The Room. In the book, and subsequently the film, Greg shares his experiences of meeting Tommy Wiseau for the first time, moving to Hollywood with him to follow their dreams of becoming actors, and eventually the crazy and deranged antics that happened both on the set of The Room and off the set. When I read the book, I flew through it as the stories he shared were some of the most bat-shit, insane, accounts I’ve heard, so when it was announced that there would be a film based off the book, I was 100000% on board.
As I mentioned, THE DISASTER ARTIST is directed by James Franco, who also stars in the film as Tommy Wiseau, and also helped produce the film. The movie also stars Dave Franco as Greg Sestero, Seth Rogan, Alison Brie and Paul Scheer. While I did end up liking the book much more than the film, I still enjoyed the re-enactments of some of my favorite moments in the story as well as James Franco’s complete embodiment of Tommy Wiseau. My critique of the film had to do with the fact that I wish they had delved deeper into the psychosis of Wiseau, because honestly, the book really pinpoints some unsavory aspects of his personality.
In regards to the film, I can’t say enough good things about James Franco’s performance. Not only does he make himself look like Wiseau, but he acts like him, and has mannerisms that match Wiseau’s perfectly. Even the whole production matches that of what Wiseau did in regards to him starring, directing, and producing the entire thing. It goes without saying that James Franco goes to the absolute limits in his authenticity of his portrayal of Tommy Wiseau and he knocks it out of the park. The same can be said for Dave Franco, James Franco’s younger brother, who does a superb job of portraying Greg Sestero. Though James is receiving the majority of the acclaim, it would be a shame not to give Dave hefty portion of that praise as well since he did such a fantastic job of bringing Greg Sestero’s experiences to life.
The only concern I have for this film is for people who haven’t ever witnessed the glorious train wreck of The Room or are not familiar with “The Disaster Artist” book. I’m not sure what someone would expect going into this had they not experienced at least The Room as I feel like all contexts would be lost (I could try to explain what The Room is but that would be a whole ‘nother review). With that said, I would HIGHLY suggest watching The Room (with or without Rifftrax) prior to going to see this. THE DISASTER ARTIST does a great job of showcasing the insanity that befell the set of The Room and I definitely recommend staying during the credits so you can see just how precise James Franco made certain scenes from the movie. It’s pretty apparent that all those involved in THE DISASTER ARTIST were huge fans of The Room because of just how much work went into the production of this film. Even Wiseau himself gave the film his blessing, of course done in the most Tommy Wiseau way. Speaking of the enigmatic Wiseau, he does make a cameo but you have to make it through the credits to see it (it’s definitely worth the wait).
Overall, I was thoroughly entertained with THE DISASTER ARTIST. Though I’m being that person that says, “the book was better” I still think the film was able to encapsulate a large portion of what the book was about. Tommy Wiseau is not from this planet, I swear, and though the mystery of who is he is, where he’s from, or where he gets his money from, are never answered, you do get to see just how passionate and intense he is about his craft. A part of my heart breaks for him but I also know, from the book, that he’s not the greatest guy, so my feelings towards him still remain conflicted. With all that said, if you are a huge fan of The Room and/or you love “The Disaster Artist” book, than I would say without a doubt, that you need to see THE DISASTER ARTIST.
THE DISASTER ARTIST opens in limited theaters December 1st and everywhere December 8th