The Disaster Artist (2017)

James Franco’s development of a film based on The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell about the infamous “bad” movie Tommy Wiseau’s The Room had created much anticipation over the last number of years. At the disadvantage of not reading the book or having seen all of The Room, I find it fairly remarkable how Franco and the screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber were able to sculpt a three-act movie out of a long, complicated, and mysterious story. The structure is both the film’s strength and the exposer of its weaknesses.

Dave Franco stars as Sestero while James embodies the peculiar Wiseau. James’ performance vacillates from perfect mimicry to SNL sketch. Little Franco actually has the tougher role as the straight man Sestero. He is the Tom Cruise to James’ Rain Man. It’s hard to discern if the film is comedy or drama or both. It certainly becomes a comedy during the film shoot scenes and it’s amusing to see so many comedic actors acting dramatically to squeeze out laughs.

The most egregious (though narratively unavoidable) element of the story is how it seems to show that audiences understood the profundity of The Room’s weirdness and that it became a cult classic almost immediately. This is most certainly untrue, as all cult classics develop over time and are dependent on viewers’ word-of-mouth. While The Disaster Artist is funny it is not as touching as it hopes to be, and never answers the big question about why the lowest of art can reach the height of sublimity.

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