The Disaster Artist (2017)
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The Disaster Artist is really Greg's account of how crazy the process of making The Room was and how his friendship with Tommy developed. I think you'll get the most out of this movie if you have seen The Room because with all the behind-the-scenes stories, it gives context to how the bizarre choices in the movie happened. This is effective because you can't help but ask yourself who thought making this movie was a good idea? after you've seen The Room. From Tommy's new style of on camera love making to why they replicated the alley from outside of the studio to film in rather than the actual alley, you find out why. I've seen movies that delve in deeper to the process of how to make a movie but I enjoyed this all the same.
The biggest surprise of this movie is they are so heartfelt when they really delve into Tommy's psyche and his relationship with Greg. I have to echo Seth Rogen when he said that it would have been really easy to just relentlessly mock Wiseau and call him a freak. There's a scene with Bob Odenkirk and a room full of acting students where they address that. But Tommy wants to be the hero so badly that you feel sorry for him. Although he isn't always the good guy, he really went for it and that is admirable. His friendship with Greg also is heartwarming. At the beginning of the movie, every time Greg was hanging out with Tommy I wanted to yell STRANGER DANGER! But you can see why these guys would be friends and when Greg consoles Tommy in the end, its a really nice moment and it highlights one of the big strengths of the film.
If you haven't seen The Room, the first thing that's going to grab your attention in the trailer is how wacky James Francos is playing Tommy Wiseau. If you have seen The Room, you know how close he is to Tommy as he nails his accent, his style and his weird mannerisms. Some people have suggested a Best Actor nomination but I don't know if I'd go that far. He gives a funny and engaging lead performance. Dave Franco is just as good as Greg Sistero. He's great at playing a very innocent and starstruck young actor who finds a kindred spirit in Tommy. Dave's a better actor than he's given credit for and he's both funny and sincere in this movie. Past those two lead performances, this movie is a parade of famous actors in supporting roles or cameos. Seth Rogen is really funny as Sandy, he's the one who calls Tommy out on his bizarre behaviour the most. Alison Brie is decent in her small role as Amber. Jacki Weaver and Ari Graynor were both amusing and sweet. My favourites of the cameos were Zac Efron and Josh Hutcherson as a way to intense Chis-R and a completely miscast Denny.
The hype around this movie was enormous and while I am generally a fan of the Franco brothers, Rogen and they're troop of friends, the only negative is that while this movie is funny, it still fell a little short in the comedy department. I got a couple of really big laughs but it was mostly just chuckles throughout. Almost all of the best parts are when they are directly skewering a specifically awful part of The Room so the parts exclusively dealing with Tommy and Greg outside of the movie can drag a little.
The Disaster Artist is a love letter to The Room and all the unintentional laughter it inspires. It gives you some insight into how this movie caught lightening in a bottle in delivering a horrific product that people could still enjoy. To add on that, you get some good performances, a laundry list of funny celebrities making cameos and a nice story of enduring friendship. The Disaster Artist isn't my favourite movie of the year but I enjoyed it enough to give it an 8/10. I'd recommend it to fans of The Room, campy cinema or the Judd Apatow stable of comedians.
This movie has the Franco Brothers and Seth Rogen, and we all know the reputation that comes with them. They make stoner comedies and basically all play the same characters in every movie they're in. That is not the case here. All of those clichés from those movies that we see from these guys are thrown out of the window. It was a nice change of pace and pleasant surprise for all of these guys after watching their work and seeing the same stale comedies delivered to audiences.
I also wouldn't "technically" categorize this movie as a "comedy." It's definitely more of a dramedy with comedic scenes mixed in, but this is because Tommy Wiseau, who is so magnificently played by James Franco in what is probably his best performance to date (yes I went there), is such a weird, mysterious, eccentric, and strange individual that his words and actions and his weird passion to make a movie come off as comedic. It's the more intense drama scenes that really work well within this movie. I will add that the comedic scenes shown the trailer are not the only funny scenes in the movie. There's definitely more humor in the movie aside from those scenes.
My issue with this movie really just comes down to pacing. It took a while for the buildup, and I get it, it's character development and you have to explain the relationship between Tommy and Greg, and that's character development, but it just felt a little too long. There were instances where I was checking my watch and thought to myself "i thought Seth Rogen was in this movie." I would also say that the character of Amber, played by Alison Brie, really didn't move the story forward all that much and I felt like she wasn't needed.
Overall, I enjoyed it. Laughed my ass off in some parts. Both Francos and Seth Rogen for that matter are really good in the movie, it's a behind the scenes type of movie that shows you how not to make a movie. I thought they did a really good job of capturing just how strange and determined Tommy Wiseasu was.
I am going to give "The Disaster Artist" a B+.
Check out my review of "The Disaster Artist" here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT5-PfMK180
So being a fan of both, I had a good idea of what I was in for, approaching the James Franco directed The Disaster Artist, but I'm pleased to say the film ended up meeting my expectations and then some.
First things first: James Franco's performance in this is incredible. His accent and mannerisms are a spot-on imitation of Wiseau's, and he manages to make you feel sympathy towards the character too. It's one thing to so directly portray such a unique individual and make doing so incredibly funny, but it's another thing entirely to make him feel (almost) like a real person, and to make you genuinely care for him. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I truly think this performance is worth an Academy Award nomination (fingers crossed).
Everyone else was good too. Dave Franco had a less flashy role than his brother's, sure, playing Greg Sestero, but he did a good job as the more grounded, 'straight man' type character. And some of the casting was genius too- I could list almost everybody, but special mention should go to Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, and Jacki Weaver.
Also worth mentioning is how well the cast and crew recreated the look of the original The Room- the mannerisms of the actors, the set design, the lighting, the camera-work- it's all perfect. It makes the film an impressive technical achievement in many regards; not simply a funny film with inspired casting and good performances.
As for downsides? There aren't a whole bunch. Perhaps the most significant is that this may not have a great deal of appeal beyond those who've watched and loved The Room already. I'm sure it would still function as a good film, but it might lack something for those who aren't already indoctrinated into the cult of The Room. Other nitpicks I could think of may be that the film is fairly conventional in terms of plot- not a ton of surprises here (other than maybe a few cameos throughout). And it feels a tiny bit longer than just over 100 minutes- but again, that's a nitpick. I am more or less struggling to think of too much that I personally didn't like with this film.
So as a long time fan of The Room, this is about as good as I hoped it could be. I hope I'm wrong in my views that the audience for this will be limited, and that it does have appeal beyond hardcore fans of The Room. And hey, if there's enough buzz behind it to allow for James Franco to earn an Oscar nomination, then that would be fantastic.
And deserved (in my opinion).
This is one of the most pleasant surprises of the film year so far, and second only to Tim Burton's Ed Wood in the (admittedly probably non-existent) sub-genre of films about making terrible movies.
If you've ever watched The Room, or even just watched some of its scenes on Youtube, make sure you don't miss this one.
As Greg started to find some success as an actor in Hollywood, a jealous Tommy decided to make himself a star, pumping six million dollars into a film he wrote, directed, produced and played the male lead. Greg was given a supporting role, and the cult 'best worst movie ever made' The Room was born.
Like many others, my experience with The Room began watching with friends, before cinema screenings and listening to audiobook The Disaster Artist written by Tom Bissell and Greg Sestero himself. This book is revelatory not just for its depiction of the massive tensions on the set of The Room as Tommy's behaviour cost him crew after crew, but in showing the strange, interdependent friendship of Tommy and Greg.
The Disaster Artist film adaptation plays off the ironic success of The Room, now played to packed midnight screenings in a manner akin to The Rocky Picture Show. It is also able to deftly pit the emotional core of the film Greg (Dave Franco), against the force of nature that is Tommy Wiseau (played by James Franco).
James Franco is able to capture some of the bizarreness of Tommy, most memorably in a scene where Tommy prances around naked while bellowing orders at an enraged crew. Franco has finally found the role where he can be as weird as he likes, thanks to Tommy's unplaceable accent, black locks, missing millions, and unwavering narcissism.
The script is a lighter version of the downright madness Greg Sesestro recalled, and while amusing before shooting of The Room starts it could have done with some more of that deranged bent. Seth Rogen also comes into The Disaster Artist at this point, and is a highlight as the bemused script supervisor Sandy.
What is an enjoyable film takes on a whole new level at the premiere, as the loving homages to The Room comes to life. Seeing James Franco do his take on 'you're tearing me apart!' and the many other classics is a reminder of what makes watching The Room so hilarious in the first place.
The Disaster Artist has huge fun imitating scenes of The Room, even showing their recreation side by side with the original (one with HD cameras and the other in 35mm, a nod to Wiseau's inexplicable decision to shoot in both formats simultaneously).
It's clear the Franco brothers love The Room and its cult fans. This film is unashamedly made for them, talking head celebrities opening The Disaster Artist by waxing lyrical about their own obsession with Wiseau's 'masterpiece'. As one of the converted to the 'so bad it's enjoyable' this made the film all the better, though I also questioned how much crossover appeal The Disaster Artist will ever have to those with no previous knowledge of The Room.
The most obvious comparison to The Disaster Artist is Tim Burton's Ed Wood, a biopic of the director who made the notoriously awful Plan 9 From Outer Space. While both are ready to mock their subject's failures, Franco and Burton also have a clear admiration for their subject's tenacity. We can all deride Tommy Wiseau, but what feature film have you made recently?
Couple of comments: this movie is a labor of love primarily by James Franco, who directs, co-produces, and stars as Tommy. His brother Dave co-stars as Greg. The real life story is so beyond anything believable that if this were a work of fiction, it would immediately be dismissed as just that. Let me state upfront that I have not seen "The Room" (although I see it frequently listed as a midnight listing at my local art-house theater). From everything we witness in "The Disaster Artist", Tommy is so incredibly inapt yet convinced of his own talent, it reminds me of those American Idol auditions back in the day where certain contestants think they are super good yet they were horrible. Another similarity is the Meryl Streep movie "Florence Foster Jenkins" (about a real life wealthy NY socialite who thinks she sings well and nobody dares to contradict her, leading to a notorious Carnegie Hall concert). James Franco does an outstanding job in the lead role, and I'm going to predict that he will get a number of nominations in the upcoming awards season. It isn't until the very end of the movie (when scenes from the original "The Room" are played in parallel with the recreated scenes for "The Disaster Artist") that one gets a sense how incredibly meticulous Franco has been in recreating them down to the last detail. Absolutely amazing. Last but certainly not least, the movie features a bunch of other well-known performers, some of them in very noticeable roles (such as Seth Rogen and Alison Brie), and others in "blink and you'll miss it" roles (such as Sharon Stone, Zoey Deutch, Zac Efron, etc.). In an early scene of the movie, when Tommy and Greg become unlikely friends, they head over to Tommy's place, and Greg notices a prominent sign on the apartment's wall: "I Do Not Choose To Be a Common Man". Whatever you think of Tommy, he certainly is not your "common man"!
"The Disaster Artist" opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati on not one, but two screens (a rarity). The Friday evening screening where i saw this at was attended very nicely, I;'m happy to report. The audience roared with laughter on many occasions. The positive word-of-mouth this movie surely will generate makes it likely to have long legs at the box office (at least within the art-house theater circuit). If you are in the mood for something truly different, I encourage you to check out "The Disaster Artist", be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
That presents a problem as well. He makes Tommy too likeable. While he was humanised to a certain extent and some solid insight was given into his motivations and feelings, it has to be acknowledged the real Tommy was far more obnoxious, manipulative and plain nasty. It was hard to present an accurate portrait of him as James Franco focuses more on his quirks and his charm and his tyrannical side was a bit glossed over. Nonetheless I gave him a pass and still loved watching him. And hey, you can't say Tommy isn't sincere. Other changes were made to the story and some plot points fictionalised, but that's the case in nearly every adaptation so that was to be expected. It did capture the spirit of the story and was never boring or slow paced, though it wouldn't have hurt to be a little longer either. Dave Franco does an excellent job as Greg, playing him a little more naive and optimistic than his real life counterpart (the real Greg knew he was not making a good movie, while this Greg seems a little more deluded.) but like the real Greg was so likeable and warm you just wanted him to succeed.
The film's supporting characters are perfectly cast as well, with Seth Rogen playing a straight man role as Sandy the stunned script supervisor along with several comedians and famous actors popping up left right and centre. The making of the movie is the most enjoyable part and is seriously funny. One of the biggest laughs in the cinema was Josh Hutcherson's first appearance as the room's most peculiar character, Denny, goofy haircut and shirt intact. It was also great to see that Ari Graynor and Jacki Weaver, playing Juliette Danielle's Lisa and Carolyn Minnott's Claudette from the movie respectively, are portrayed as strong willed and thick skinned people who nobly put up with some of the worst working conditions for an actor imaginable. No water or air conditioning combined with gratuitous belly button sex would have probably broken others but they soldiered on.
Overall it's a hilarious and genuinely moving account of an insane true story. It softens the darker edges a bit too much and I would have loved it to have included some even crazier parts of the book that didn't make the cut but what we're left with is still an excellent and enjoyable movie. OH HI MARK!
I'd seen The Room countless times and listened to The Disaster Artist audio book twice (which I highly recommend, as Greg Sestero's narration is amazing) so I had a general idea of what to expect from this film.
Compared to the book though, I thought the movie was romanticised a bit too much. There were quite a few differences between the book and movie in regards to how things happened and the dynamic between characters. I guess changes are normally expected with adaptations, but I think here it felt like some things were purposely glossed over particularly in regards to how Tommy was portrayed.
The film makes Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau's relationship look a lot sweeter than how Greg wrote it. In reality, Tommy was extremely jealous of Greg's early successes and was constantly trying to compete with him. In the movie we see Greg give Tommy the idea to make The Room, when in fact Tommy had decided to make it just to one up Greg. On the other hand in the book it felt like Greg really looked down on and resented Tommy; but we get a much warmer, sympathetic portrayal from Dave Franco.
In the movie Tommy is constantly referred to as some kind of a monster, but I just don't think we see enough of that side. We're shown a Tommy that is sensitive, insecure and completely aware that Hollywood doesn't care for him. This isn't so bad because it helps the audience really feel for the guy. However, (again the way Greg wrote him) not only was Tommy delusional, he was also really cheap, pompous, manipulative and just down right mean to everyone. I think I would have loved the movie even more if I had seen more of this mayhem in the film.
The Disaster Artist book was really candid and chaotic and just didn't feel like the film was as much. I've read that Tommy in life tries really, really hard to protect his image and hasn't really accepted the reason why he's so popular (see his boycotting of the 'A Room Full of Spoons' documentary), so I'm guessing he had some kind of heavy input into watering down the intensity of his character and the story in the film. I think if this hadn't been a factor, the movie would have been even more hysterical.
James Franco's portrayal of Tommy was absolutely incredible. His accent was a little muddy at times which made it difficult to understand what he was saying, but other than that he did an amazing job. The bromance between Tommy and Greg on screen was really heartwarming too. I was sad that the movie wasn't longer, because I felt like there was so much more to see and it all went by way too fast.
Overall, The Disaster Artist was a really funny, bittersweet, touching movie and I can't wait to see it again!
With a script adapted from a book based on the experience of Greg Sestero (one of the actors from the original film), the story seems to have all its cards in place. The adaptation was handled by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (Paper Towns (2015)), who worked together since their start. The components to the screenplay that really hit home for many fans of the movie, or to those who were indirectly introduced to it, was the overall message in plot and the story behind the making of The Room (2003). If Tommy Wiseau is quoted as being 99.9% happy with the finished product, then it is safe to say that the events shown on screen are true. And if that is a fact, then as much as people think Wiseau is a strange person, he really does teach a lesson to viewers. For us the audience, that means to never give up on your dreams and to never let anyone tell you otherwise. In life there will always be things that try to stop you from what you want to do. In order to succeed, one must learn how to work around it.
Seeing that notion repeated over and over throughout the running time is something everyone needs to tell themselves. If this is truly what Tommy Wiseau believes in real life, he is a much deeper individual than many people think. As for the actors who play Wiseau and company, the main cast was great. James Franco who plays Wiseau (and directs this feature too) did an amazing job becoming Wiseau. Franco easily grabs the attention of the viewers with his spot on take of Wiseau. One would really have to sit back and remind themselves that it's only Franco and not Wiseau himself. Playing Greg Sestero is James' brother Dave Franco and although it may seem like cheating, that two brothers are playing the starring roles, the two work well together. That goes even for the times where friction occurs. For supporting actors, Seth Rogen as Sandy the script supervisor has a number of funny lines. Ari Graynor who plays the Lisa character does a good job at replicating the infamous scenes from the film as well.
Playing Denny was Josh Hutcherson who plays the character from the original movie accurately too. There also appearances from other actors like Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Paul Scheer, Zac Efron, Judd Apatow and even Bryan Cranston. Seeing all of this happen though is still astounding due to the fact that Tommy Wiseau went from a complete nobody on the Hollywood radar for a decade or so. Later to transform from incompetent filmmaker to glorified genius. This just proves the fact that no matter what you do, if you keep pushing the direction you want to go, you will be recognized for it. Tommy Wiseau wanted to have his shot at being famous back in the early 2000s, and now he really is. Sometimes success, fame or money does not come instantaneously like some think. The same could also be said for Greg Sestero who had a bunch of opportunities pop up. But in the end, he's best known for this feature and has openly welcomed that notoriety as much as he hesitated about it at first.
The one element to this film that was not the best was the camera-work. Brandon Trost was the cinematographer to this feature and it's a mixed bag of visuals. At times the camera lens flows easily over the scene at hand and does capture a number of backgrounds that are appealing to look at. However, there are moments where the camera moves around while filming like it's being held via camcorder. It wobbles and jiggles to the point where it gets frustrating to watch. I understand the usefulness if Trost wants to replicate the quality of technology at the time when The Room (2003) was made, but most of those times are not used to show that. Trost also worked on Crank: High Voltage (2009), Halloween II (2009), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012), Neighbors (2014) and The Interview (2014).The music on the other hand was composed by Dave Porter. Though it did not have a signature theme for the film, it's probably best it did not since this is not a film that really requires it. He also made the music to Smiley (2012).
While the camera-work can be erratic at times, the rest of the movie prevails in being an underdog story about one of the most mysterious underdogs in all of cinema history. The biopic of how Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero met and make The Room (2003) is actually quite an uplifting adventure.
DISASTER starts off promisingly. Franco seems earnest in trying to tell Wiseau and Sestero's off-beat Hollywood wannabe tale. The brothers Franco use their kinship to give their on screen friendship an extra bit of verisimilitude. As a Director, Franco manages to balance the satirical and the sensitive portrayal of the duo pretty nicely. And, then we get to the making of THE ROOM itself.
From there on, DISASTER takes a turn for the worse as the movie shunts aside much of the goodwill towards Wiseau in favor of mockery. Chief among the flaws is Seth Rogan as a fictionalized version of script supervisor Sandy Schklair (the actual Sandy quit during the shoot, and, in a bizarre turn of events actually tried to claim credit for Directing much of THE ROOM). Rogan comes off as a wise-ass who openly mocks Wiseau and the film from the get-go (Schklair has said he has trouble with the portrayal). Rogan's version of Sandy becomes a stand-in for all those who attend THE ROOM's midnight screening in order to hurl wisecracks at the hapless Wiseau. The fact that Wiseau now claims that his is "in" on the joke, doesn't make it any less cruel.
It's unfortunate that Franco lets this aspect take over DISASTER ARTIST. There is much to praise, including Franco's own uncanny mimicry of Wiseau's seemingly inimitable style (Franco's accent does slip a bit during the 'Directing' scenes). Parts of it seem to genuinely have an affinity for Wiseau and his dreams, and the depiction of the making of a low budget feature has a certain ring of truth to it, despite exaggerations.
And, yet... The big premiere scene isn't credible (I've been to many a disastrous screening, and, they don't spontaneously turn into a Rocky Horror style midnight event; my suspicions backed up by first person accounts of attendees). Why the Bryan Cranston scene was invented is never explained (to get in yet another celebrity cameo?). And, why maintain the illusion of a "mystery" surrounding Wiseau's origins? He's from Poland and he was in his late 40s when THE ROOM was made. Franco's brave decision to end the body of the movie with side by side clips of his recreations of scenes from THE ROOM with actual ones is quite meta (as good as they were, I have to say my attention still drifted more to Wiseau's originals than to the Franco ones; There's still something to be said about authenticity - even if incompetent).
A large group of millennials sat in the back row of the screening I attended. They seemed primed to mock Wiseau at every turn. And, on cue, they openly guffawed at every poorly pronounced word out of Franco/Wiseau's mouth. They cheered and jeered at all the infamously poor scenes recreated from THE ROOM. Even as someone who loves 'So Bad It's Good' movies myself, I found much of their reaction unsavory. They weren't just cheerfully playing along with Wiseau's amateurishness, they were ridiculing his accent, his very gall at trying. Unfortunately, I felt some of that crept into Franco's movie, even if semi-inadvertently. Compare that with ED WOOD where Tim Burton and screenwriters Larry Karaszewski and Scott Alexander openly showed great affection for that hapless filmmaker and his cockeyed dream. Franco's performance is deeper than Depp's in that film, but, it still can't save THE DISASTER ARTIST from its failings.