Comedy / Films / Reviews

The Disaster Artist: come for the laughs, stay for its heart

The Disaster Artist is great in two ways: It made me laugh a ton, so the film succeeded on the surface. This point, however, put it over the top: By the end, I cared about what happened behind the scenes of The Room, a film I thought everybody gave way too much credit for being “the best worst film ever.” But James Franco, director and star of A24’s latest, created intrigue around a film I really struggled to care for.

Truth be told, I still can live without giving Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic a second watch, but The Disaster Artist made that one viewing much more valuable.

The Disaster Artist is based on a true story and novel written by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell. Sestero played Greg in The Room, and Dave Franco takes on the role of Greg in Disaster Artist. Greg is enamored with Tommy (James Franco) after seeing his carefree — and less-than-perfect — acting during a class. From that moment on, Greg vows to make a promise with Tommy that they’d never split and always pursue their dream of making it in Hollywood. They move to Los Angeles, and thus the makings of The Room unfold.

The first half of this film presents many side-splitting moments that wonderfully display James Franco’s comedic expertise. He’s masterful as Tommy Wiseau, a person so mysterious that he’s almost impossible to emulate. But — and hear me out on this — Franco makes a strong case for a Best Actor nod come Oscar season. Why? I mean, for starters he almost disappears as Wiseau, with his hours of studying The Room clearly paying off.

disaster artist

(Sharon Stone, Dave Franco) Photo: A24

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(Dave Franco, James Franco) Photo: A24

Also, he genuinely brought acting to the table. Yes, heartfelt emotion. During the second half of this film, there’s a tonal shift that’s very apparent. Once production begins on The Room, there’s dissension among the cast and crew, worriment that this film will never be made and even a fork-in-the-road situation with a main character’s career. Who in the world would’ve guessed The Disaster Artist, a film marketed as a comedy, would have such heart?

Another pleasant surprise was how natural Dave Franco was in his role. His big brother’s shadow wasn’t lingering over him throughout the film, and he meshed well in some of the more intense sequences. There wasn’t a moment where his comedic timing was off, either. The Franco brothers seemingly did no wrong.

The conclusion is no secret, as we all know The Room was completed. Although, this film is a gem because it succeeds in not rushing to its end. The journey is so intriguing, so gripping that I almost forget this is truly a comedy in nature. I was subjected to real plot development that avoided clichés (let’s be real, there’s nothing cliché about Wiseau and Co.). Other major players, like actor Seth Rogan, took a step back, but that isn’t a negative, either. Rogan may have been ponied up as one of the main characters prior to watching this film, but his role is just right. With a runtime under two hours, everyone got their share of the pie, including some fun cameos along the way.

I’m raving about The Disaster Artist, I know, but it’s tough to draw a negative outside of my worry that this won’t hold up as well outside of a large crowd. The theater was full to the brim with laughter and different personalities. But that’s the thing: it was full of people. At home, it’s just a TV and a couple of people for most households. Comedies outside the classics most times lack enjoyment when you’re only listening to yourself laugh. Franco’s antics are enough to get by in most sequences, however. Another takeaway is exactly how blind someone can come into this film. My girlfriend hadn’t seen The Room prior to Disaster Artist, but she reviewed some key scenes and listened to/watched interviews with Franco and Wiseau. Others may miss key laugh-out-moments without knowing the source material, sadly. However, these are just small detractors in light of so many positives.

I am still quoting this film weeks after seeing it, so James Franco did his job as director and actor. The Disaster Artist takes the tale of one man’s ambition and weaves it into a comedic journey with a sprinkle of emotion. This is a film that stays the course and accomplishes its goal of pleasing both the avid and casual moviegoer, while paying off for those who both loathe and love The Room. A24 has another ace on its hands.

I’m getting used to saying that this year.


I attended a press screening for The Disaster Artist thanks in large part to A24 and Allied Integrated Marketing. ❤

The Disaster Artist is rated R, runs 1 hour and 43 minutes and opens in theaters on Dec. 8, 2017.

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