The Disaster Artist Review
"I did not her, it's not true, it's bullshit, I did not her, I did not. Oh, Hi Mark."
2003's The Room
is renounced as a film that is so-bad-its-good, earning a cult following and devoted fans watch it at midnight screenings in major cities around the world. This was achieved by the mysterious Tommy Wiseau and the story behind the film has now been told.
Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is an aspiring actor in San Francisco who struggles with stage fright. Whilst at an acting class Sestero meets Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and is inspired by his fearlessness. The pair become friends and attempt to make it as actors in LA. After much struggle to find work, they decide to make their own film despite their lack of experience and talent.
The Disaster Artist
has been marketed as a comedy about the ineptitude of Wiseau but it's really a drama that had some comedic elements. A moment that is indicative of this was during the filming of the sex scene. The filming of the scene leads to reactions of bemusement as Wiseau tries to penetrate the wrong area of a woman but the during the lead-up Wiseau is shown to berate his cast and crew and afterwards ends up in a shouting match with his senior crew members.
Much of the comedy relies on audiences having some knowledge of The Room
and filmmaking in general. It plays up origins of some of the famous scenes and the reaction to those scenes being filmed. Wiseau's weirdness also played a part in the comedy because he was someone who hadn't quite worked out how this whole social interaction thing works.
The film does feature some famous comedic actors like Seth Rogen, Jason Mantzoukas and Alison Brie and they played their roles straight or at least had a dry delivery. The humor involving someone like Rogen is more reactionary, though he is really giving a more dramatic performance in the disguise of a comedy.
Tommy Wiseau is a marvel because very little is known of him even in this information age. No one knows his real age or where he is from nor where he got his money from. It was rumored he spent $6 million of his own money on the film - a film that should have cost no more than $1 million. The Disaster Artist
does attempt to psychoanalyze Wiseau and his motivations for making The Room
and it comes up with three theories. The first is Wiseau wrote The Room
as an attempt to prove Hollywood wrong because they told him he would never make it or at best, could only play villains. The story of The Room
acted as wish fulfillment for Wiseau because he wrote his character to be a popular, handsome all-American with a beautiful fiancé. The cast also theorizes that The Room
was a autobiographical story about Wiseau.
Before going into The Disaster Artist
I thought it was going to be comparable to Ed Wood
, another film about a notoriously bad filmmaker. They do have a similar start in a theater setting, displaying both Wiseau's and Ed Wood's struggles in Hollywood, and show their passion for filmmaking. Ed Wood wanted to emulate Orson Welles whilst Wisaeu enjoyed the works of Shakespeare and Tennesse Williams. Ed Wood was a
more likable character - someone who found joy in filmmaking even though he was bad at it. Wiseau is a more ambiguous figure, he gets jealous easily and is at times aggressive. When filming The Room
Wiseau shows that there is a fine line between auteur genius and a deluded fool.
The filming of The Room
also leads to a case of life imitating art. As the filming progresses, Wiseau becomes more paranoid and ends up becoming his character. This paranoia even leads the destruction of his friendship with Sestero.
Compared to other so-bad-its-good films like Birdemic
and Manos: The Hands of Fate, The Room
actually had a professional crew and it did actually have discernible visuals and sound. The script supervisor Sandy Schklair (Rogen) ended up working on shows like the American version of Skins
and the horror film The Devil's Rejects
and people like the costume designer and make-up artist actually cared about their jobs. Wiseau's incompetence turns from comedic to draining for the rest of the cast and crew.
The Disaster Artist
was based on Greg Sestero's book and because of this, it aims to put Sestero in the best possible light. The adaptation attempted to manufacture an arc to make a story: Sestero and Wiseau meet up, become friends and try to make it in Hollywood, decide to make a film which leads to their friendship becoming fractious. The film changes some details like having Wiseau originally write The Room
as a novel and as a stage play before turning it into a screenplay. The biggest change involved a plot point where Wiseau ruins Sestero's big break during the filming of The Room
because he was offered a one-off role on a TV show.
In reality, Sestero had bit roles in Gattaca
and Patch Adams
and was in an episode of Days of Our Lives
before starring in The Room
The Disaster Artist
was clearly made by people who have a great love for The Room
and people with knowledge of filmmaking are going to be entertained the most by it. A group of young men and myself were the ones who laughed the most at the film. Yet The Disaster Artist
's humor may be lost on audiences who don't know much about The Room
and it not as revolutionary as some critics have made it out to be.