THE DISASTER ARTIST review by Rahul Vedantam – James Franco makes “The Room” as Tommy Wiseau

THE DISASTER ARTIST review by Rahul Vedantam – James Franco makes “The Room” as Tommy Wiseau

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THE DISASTER ARTIST is this year’s LA LA LAND… and I’m only half joking about that. For while it is not a jazz musical, it is a fantastic love letter to The City of Angels, and the creators it hosts. This film is more than another James Franco/Seth Rogen gag fest. Director and star James Franco imbues the film with a surprising reverence for THE ROOM, the film it is thought to be lambasting. Make no mistake, the ridiculousness with the circumstances of this film’s creation are played for plenty laughs, it’s almost hard to believe if you haven’t seen the source film and done your own research. And everyone thinking about watching THE DISASTER ARTIST should absolutely watch THE ROOM first, and preferably with a friend.

THE ROOM has absolutely earned its moniker or “the best worst movie of all time.” Seeing all the terrible decisions for yourself with the ridiculous acting, directing, writing, set design, editing, and truly everything… well, it’s an experience. It will also make your viewing of THE DISASTER ARTIST so much better, as you can mentally compare everything you are seeing to real scenes in the movie, the absurdity of which may go over the head of someone going in blind. Seeing someone take 60+ takes to deliver “Oh hi Mark” is funnier when you’ve seen Tommy Wiseau do it first. THE ROOM is nearly 15 years old, and everything
hilariously bad about it has been milked to death by its fans. Which is why if this new film had only been those jokes it might have been a failure, merely a high production enactment of the laughs made in hundreds of theater rooms across America.

However, this production is carried by James Franco’s fantastic performance as the infamous Tommy Wiseau. Absolutely nailing the man’s unique accent and strange mannerisms, he is the center of attention the entire time. Much of the film is based on the book by Greg Sestero (the actor who played Mark in THE ROOM) which likely informed the decision to tell the story from his perspective (played by Dave Franco). With this pair playing off each other, the two characters become sympathetic dreamers, doing their best to fight the man and create their own art in independence. Even Wiseau, who’s craziness is destroying is own film, is sympathetic in his childlike hope to be a heroic figure. The Francos sympathize with these two dreams, and use that to create real weight to their lives. There is a real dramatic fear as you know Wiseau is going to see his film bomb at the premiere. This is what makes the movie so great, along with the fantastic shot for shot remakes of scenes from the original film.

As a director, James Franco doesn’t doing anything special, sticking with the standard cinematography most comedies seem to have nowadays. No stand out music or editing; it likely isn’t going to be in the Oscar race. But it is a fantastic love letter two the pulled-up-by-the-bootstraps story that happens to also be that of the best worst film ever made.

THE DISASTER ARTIST opens December 1, 2017 from A24 Films

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