In 2003, aspiring actor and producer Tommy Wiseau, along with his best friend Greg Sestero, released a dramatic film called The Room that quickly became known as the worst film ever made. With just a six-million-dollar budget, the film’s editing, locations and acting are amateur at best. Critic and author Tom Bissell describes the film perfectly when he says “it is like a movie made by an alien who has never seen a movie but has had movies thoroughly explained to him.” Despite the terrible quality and reviews, The Room became a cult classic within months and it is still played at theaters today, where fans dress up as the iconic characters and interact with the movie, much like the Rocky Horror fan base. Needless to say, I often turn to The Room when I’m having a bad day and need a laugh; yes, it’s that horribly funny. So when Sestero and Bissell published the memoir The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made, celebrated comedians James Franco and Seth Rogen jumped at the opportunity to recreate the production of one of their favorite movies of all time.
Before I get into the review, I feel the need to emphasize that you have to see The Room to fully appreciate The Disaster Artist. I watched it with my roommates who had not seen The Room, and they hardly laughed, let alone understood the meanings behind some of the most iconic scenes in the movie, like the random and pointless game of football the men play outside. They didn’t understand the comedy behind the elusive Tommy Wiseau, who never reveals his age, his country of origin or how he acquired an apparently bottomless bank account. Whenever confronted about his personal life, he either changes the subject or becomes very frustrated, lashing out at the production team and the actors. To a stranger of the original movie, The Disaster Artist will be much less entertaining.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the film is how closely James Franco resembles his character, Tommy Wiseau. Franco is hardly recognizable, wearing a wig, artificial facial parts and blue contacts. He effortlessly mimics the producer’s bizarre accent and his odd mannerisms, including exaggerated hand movements and eye rolls. Wiseau himself is a very mysterious person, but James Franco successfully encapsulates everything about the man and more. At times I felt like I was watching a documentary instead of a satirical film (and I mean that in a good way). Of course, there are many non-comedic aspects of the movie that were necessary to include. I learned that Wiseau was a very frustrated person. He felt like he had the most remarkable artistic vision of all time, and anyone who questioned his techniques was either fired or removed from the set for a day. He refused to turn the air conditioning on in the studio, prompting an elderly actor to faint, and even forced Sestero to turn down an extra role in Malcolm in the Middle because he felt like he was being betrayed. The filming process was such a disaster that the movie was barely finished. Sestero, played by Dave Franco, quit filming before the production ended, temporarily cutting off all ties with Wiseau. Having mentioned Dave Franco, I was thoroughly impressed with his portrayal of Sestero. Another complicated character, Sestero is evidently a sloppy actor at best despite taking many classes. I’ve seen plenty of Dave Franco films, but his role in The Disaster Artist is without a doubt his best performance yet.
Last but not least, I was extremely impressed with how accurate Franco’s depictions of The Room’s scenes were during the production process. The Disaster Artist’s actors obviously spent an immense amount of time studying iconic moments like the love scene between Wiseau and his female counterpart (which is hysterical), in order to get every single aspect, such as props, lines and movements, exactly right. At the end of the movie, there is a reel portraying scenes from The Disaster Artist and The Room side-by-side, and it’s almost freaky how similar they are. The lines are delivered at the exact same time in the exact same manner. It takes an enormous amount time and dedication to accomplish what Franco and Rogen have, which is evident by the many nominations the movie received last year, including Golden Globes and Academy Awards.
Overall, I was thoroughly pleased with The Disaster Artist’s take on The Room, which is probably one of my favorite comedic films of all time. There are many parts of the film that will always remain unexplained, such as the framed pictures of plastic spoons in the living room and Wiseau’s refusal to answer any personal questions (to this day, no one knows where he is from or how old he is). However, for anyone who’s a fan of the cult classic, The Disaster Artist is 100 percent worth the time and money, not only for the comedic aspect but also because it answers so many questions about the film that fans have wondered about for years.