“At this point it would be fucking weird if he didn’t do something fucking weird”
No one sets out to make a bad movie. Making films is a very difficult process with a lot of moving elements occurring at the same time. And although it’s easy for us critics to sit behind our laptops and sneer, we do it with with little to no knowledge of how many people worked their arses off to bring us the opportunity. The criteria for what makes a movie bad is complex, personal and ever-changing. If a film doesn’t work it’s usually due to some pieces not quite fitting together or because the basis of the film was ill thought out. Maybe the idea doesn’t translate to the language of the screen or maybe the intent didn’t match the execution. Or in rare cases it can be all these things and more – which brings us to what many have called ‘the Citizen Kane of bad films’, Tommy Wiseau’s 2001 disasterpiece The Room.
Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is an aspiring actor living in San Francisco who meets the bonkers Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in an acting class. He’s one of the strangest people imaginable; no one knows where he comes from and he seems like a malfunctioning robot that was sent to this planet with insufficient data, unable to speak, interact or think in any way within the realms of normality. The pair both have dreams of success in Hollywood, so they pack up and make the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with hopes of being big name stars. Things don’t go their way, until Wiseau decides that he’s going to write, direct, produce, star and finance a film of his own, and thus begins the making of a uniquely baffling cult classic.
Directed by James Franco, who uses his unique talents perfectly in the role, and based loosely on the book by Greg Sestero, The Disaster Artist is a deceptively interesting take on the material. A piece of art as distinctly crazy as The Room is ripe for parody, but the Franco brothers aren’t here for the sole purpose of making fun of Wiseau or the unbridled insanity he created. This is actually made with respect for someone who could create something so fascinatingly awful. It is not only about the making of one of the worst films ever made but is an insight into both the creative process and the often self-parodying levels of Hollywood narcissism.
It’s a valid point to make. As much as Hollywood likes to think it knows what people want, almost 15 years after it came out The Room is still able to sell out entire theatres. Most people can quote entire sections of dialogue and the staying power of its famous scenes is unparalleled. For reference: How many people are still watching Best Picture winners a year or two after they come out? Does anyone even know what won the Oscar in 2003? (It’s Chicago, I had to google it though)
James Franco is a perfect fit for Wiseau. His performance is more than just an imitation; it brings its own depths and nuances to a role that a lot of actors couldn’t have done justice to. This is the first time that both Franco brothers have acted together and their chemistry together is amazing. There are mountains of cameos by the usual frat pack and some who will come as a surprise.
The future double features of The Room and The Disaster Artist will be amazing. A strong contender for funniest film of the year, this is a triumph as a film-about-films and cultural artefact of something that is almost the dictionary definition of ‘so bad it’s good’.
The Disaster Artist is in cinemas from 30th November through Roadshow Films.