James Franco is known for being a workhorse when it comes to movie projects. He probably has 100 projects in the works and maybe half of those are ready to hit theaters immediately. One of those is THE DISASTER ARTIST, an adaptation Greg Sestero’s non-fiction book of the same name, which tells the story of the author’s friendship with filmmaker and actor (if you want to call him that) Tommy Wiseau, the man responsible for bringing the movie The Room into our lives.
Wiseau’s project has been considered the “worst movie ever made” and has become a cult classic among audiences, with special screenings in hipster theaters across the country where people are either loving it ironically or generally enjoying the unintentional comedy of it all. The film made its premiere this year at SXSW, but it screened as a “work in progress” so giving it a review would be unfair considering it isn’t the final cut — but I will tell you what I thought of the cut festival audiences were treated to.
Franco directs and stars in the film as Wiseau, the eccentric man whose accent and age are indistinguishable. A man who is a bizarre mix of free- spirited and earnest. As much as the movie is about the making of The Room it’s about the relationship between Wiseau, who developed an unlikely friendship with Greg Sestero (Dave Franco). The two moved from San Franciso to Los Angeles to become actors only to find out the hard truth that it isn’t as easy as they thought it would be. That said, Wiseau thought it would be good to make his own movie for them and that’s how the impetus of The Room.
The movie also stars Franco cohort Seth Rogen (who also produced the film) as well as a very interesting mix of talent including Josh Hutcherson, Ari Graynor, Jacki Weaver, Hannibal Buress, Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, Zac Efron, Alison Brie, and Sharon Stone. As funny as it is and as eerie as Franco’s impression of Wiseau is, the film is very frustrating because it is basically championing a horrible garbage movie. The Disaster Artist is essentially The Room on a pedestal and praising it. In turn, after the movie comes out, it will further popularize the poor excuse for a movie and make it more popular therefore pissing off real, hardworking filmmakers — that’s one way to look at it.
Through another lens, The Room may be a genius piece of work exposing the bullsh** cranked out by Hollywood, proving that it doesn’t take any legitimate skill or talent to make in the industry. All you need is money (which Wiseau mysteriously has a lot of) and a very willing audience and you will succeed. It may not be exactly the way you wanted to be admired, but at least people are admiring you.
From what was presented at SXSW, The Disaster Artist was the exact type of comedy you would expect from the Franco-Rogen camp. It was hilarious with laughs every minute and admirable, yet funny moments of heart. But as a film based on a true story about the making of the “worst film ever made,” you can’t help by be frustrated by the fact that we live in a world where people celebrate something because it’s so bad that it’s good.
Dino-Ray Ramos | Staff Writer
SXSW runs from March 10 through 19. For more of the Tracking Board’s coverage of SXSW, click here.