By Brad Haynes
The Disaster Artist
★★★ out of ★★★★
The Room, a 2003 film written by, produced by, and starring an enigmatic figure named Tommy Wisseau, is arguably the worst film ever made. It’s a film so bad in every area (acting, dialogue, cinematography, continuity) that it turns out to be the ultimate guilty pleasure.
Greg Sestero, one of the film’s lead actors, joined forces with writer Tom Bissell in 2013 to write The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made. Whatever Sestero lacked in acting skill he more than made up for with his ability, along with Bissell, to craft a wickedly entertaining behind-the-scenes story on the making of The Room, and a wart-and-all portrait of The Room‘s mastermind, Wisseau.
Without even seeing the film that the story was based on, James Franco read The Disaster Artist and knew that it was a movie about outsiders in Hollywood that he just had to make, casting himself as Wisseau and his own younger brother, Dave Franco, as Sestero.
The elder Franco proves to be just the right person to play Wisseau, easily inhabiting the character, leading you to believe that you’re watching Wisseau, not Franco. And if you’ve seen The Room, you will know that is quite a task to undertake. Wisseau, who claimed to be in his 20s at a time where he was clearly in his 40s, is one of the richest characters anyone could play, and the senior Franco nails it.
Dave Franco’s portrayal of Sestero is pretty much a one-note performance though, all toothy grin with the occasional voice of concern. This is in direct contradiction to the Sestero seen in The Room as well as the author of the source material.
The film’s cast includes some great actors turning in brief roles (Melanie Griffith and Sharon Stone are both great to see, and at first unrecognizable), but those who play cast members of The Room (including Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver and Zac Efron) all suffer from the fact that the actors that they are portraying are so stunningly original, they just don’t do them justice.
A widely successful cult classic, The Room is bound to see even more attention after the release of The Disaster Artist. And although The Disaster Artist is enjoyable, you probably won’t find yourself wanting to see it again anytime soon though.
With The Room, you’re going to want to watch it again, and again, and again. It’s that amazingly entertaining.
The Good: James Franco creeps into the skin of actor, writer, producer Tommy Wisseau and does an amazing job.
The Bad: As much fun as The Disaster Artist is, it just can’t match the overall nuttiness of The Room.
Final Word: Check out The Disaster Artist for a career-best performance from Franco, and then, if you haven’t already, make sure that you see The Room.
Starring James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Ari Graynor. Directed by James Franco.
Running Time: 1 hr 43 minutes
Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity