At the SXSW Film Festival last March, there was plenty of buzz about the “Work in Progress” screening of the James Franco directed feature film, “The Disaster Artist.” I was not able to view the film then and now in retrospect, I am glad I did not. Last spring, I had not viewed the 2003 film “The Room” created by aspiring actor turned filmmaker, Tommy Wiseau, but have now viewed it before viewing “The Disaster Artist” last month. I highly recommend viewing the 2003 film that is reenacted by actor/director Franco in “The Disaster Artist” in order to try to understand what is going on in this crazy, laugh out loud film that Wiseau did not set out to intentionally create as a comedy. James Franco stars as Wiseau and his brother, Dave Franco stars as Greg Sestero, another aspiring actor that becomes friends with Wiseau in their acting class and his life is forever changed – and not necessarily positive at times. Their performances are great, especially Franco’s interpretation of Wiseau, and should not be missed, especially if you are a James Franco fan, or a fan of “The Room” and want to watch Tommy and Greg go to lengths to complete a project many would never dream of attempting without the filmmaking experience.
“The Disaster Artist” script is adapted by writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“500 Days of Summer”) from Sestero’s 2013 memoir, “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made,” co-written with Tom Bissell. I have not read the source material, but after viewing both films, it certainly peaks my interest to read about Sestero’s experience.
Director Franco gets the most from the cast that brilliantly follow his lead, including Ari Graynor who stars as Wiseau’s girlfriend, Lisa. Don’t turn away from the screen, as you may miss stars that have small roles or cameos in the film, including Sharon Stone (Sestero’s agent); Bryan Cranston as himself; Judd Apatow as a Hollywood producer; Zac Efron plays a gangster and Josh Hutcherson is cast as a teen with mental illness. At the onset, there are several actors who endorse Wiseau’s film, including Zach Braff and J.J. Abrams, among others.
Seth Rogen stars as the script supervisor Sandy Schklair and does an adequate job of showing the viewer how flustered he is on set. A favorite actress, Jacki Weaver portrays Lisa’s mother who has plenty of advice for her daughter who has it made while living with Wiseau. She goes on and on about her illness.
A great part of Franco’s film allows viewers to see some re-creations of scenes from the original. I won’t reveal much more, but they are a great way to finish off this fun time at the theater.
Questions arise about who Tommy with an accent is, where is he from and where does his cash flow for the film come from? If you are a fan of “The Room,” then don’t go to see the film expecting answers. If James Franco has the information, well then he is keeping fans and viewers wrapped up in the same web as before. Good for him!
MPAA rating: R (for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity) Running time: 1:45
“The Disaster Artist” opens Friday, December 1st in Austin and other limited theaters, and expands to other cities on December 8th.
Source: A 24