Review: ‘The Disaster Artist’ Is the Triumph That ‘The Room’ Hoped to Be
In 2001, a man named Tommy Wiseau set his sights on Hollywood, dreaming of becoming a famous movie star. Rejected by agents and the establishment, he took matters into his own hands and wrote his own film, The Room. It went on to become an underground classic — but not in a good way. Wiseau completely funded the flop, which ran for a week, cost $6 millon to make, and grossed $1,800 when it opened in July 2003.
Chances are you’ve never seen The Room, and there’s no need to put yourself through the agony of watching it to thoroughly enjoy The Disaster Artist. Based on the book The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, by Greg Sistero, the screenwriting team Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter (The Fault In Our Stars) take you behind the scenes of an unlikely friendship between Wiseau and Sistero, and how it led to the making of The Room.
James Franco, who plays Wiseau, was inspired by the book, which rang a familiar bell about the pitfalls of making it on the big screen.
The Disaster Artist is keenly directed by Franco who also does double duty, effectively portraying the odd Wiseau from the inside out. Wiseau claims he’s from Louisiana and in his 20s, with a bottomless wallet and no apparent employment to show for it. However, he looks more like he’s 40 — with long, dyed, jet black hair — donning a rock star wardrobe a la Steven Tyler circa 1982. His speaking voice is unique, to say the least: It’s a cross between a valley guy, a 4-year-old, and Yoda. Wiseau takes some getting used to, but Franco plays it for the laughs — and gets plenty of them.
Dave Franco – James’ younger brother – was a natural choice to play Greg Sistero. He easily falls into the character of the naïve, aspiring actor — Home Alone changed his life — who meets Wiseau in acting class in San Francisco. It is clear Wiseau doesn’t have the chops to make it, as we see in a monologue in which he gyrates on the floor screaming, “Stellaaaaa!” when prompted by the coach (Melanie Griffith) to “expose himself.” Sistero’s talents remain to be seen, but the duo forges a bond and pinky swears to never forget their dreams.
The two friends set out to Los Angeles in the hopes of making their dreams come true, but are consistently turned down. Sharon Stone plays an eerie, predatory agent sniffing around Sistero when he comes into the office for representation.
Judd Apatow makes a cameo as a producer. In an all-too-familiar Hollywood scene, Wiseau boldly and badly auditions for him while he’s eating in a fancy restaurant. “It won’t happen for you in a million years,” Apatow hisses, putting the last nail in Wiseau’s casting coffin.
The cast in The Room — the movie within the movie — features a few who’s who picks from the comedy world, namely Ari Graynor (I’m Dying Up Here) as the ingenue and Seth Rogen as the script supervisor.
The ongoing bromance between Rogen and Franco makes a nice real-life parallel to the movie’s story of friendship; the two friends met on the set of Freaks and Geeks in 1999, which also was produced by Apatow.
The Disaster Artist is the triumph that Wiseau always hoped The Room would be.