“The Disaster Artist” Review: The All American Hollywood Love Story

The story of Tommy WIseau’s The Room is a fascinating, yet strange one, to say the least. A movie written, produced, directed by and starring Wiseau, to which he also financially backed entirely himself from an apparent “bottomless pit” of money. 14 years and endless midnight screenings around the world later, The Room has become such a cult phenomenon, that it’s actually become quite tiresome. The story behind the making of Tommy Wiseau’s vanity project, however, is one that continuously captivates film buffs alike, with Wiseau’s best friend and co-star of The Room, Greg Sesteros novel The Disaster Artist chronicling the making of “the worst movie of all time.”

As someone who’s read Seateros novel twice, I was equally excited as I was apprehensive to see this be translated to film, but James Franco managed to capture the heart and absurdity of this true story that’s frankly, unbelievable.

James Franco stars as the mysterious Tommy Wiseau, a man who’s genuine passion and artistic integrity don’t exactly mesh well. As a student in an acting class, Wiseau comes across Greg, (Dave Franco) an aspiring actor who’s charming good looks don’t make up for his continuous stage fright and self-doubt. The two become friends, with Greg seeing Tommy as fearless during an utterly botched rendition of A Streetcar Named Desire during an acting class they took together. Tommy, on the other hand, is just so desperately looking for a friend.

Long story short, the two decide to make their own movie, when Hollywood rejected the aspiring artists one time too many. The rest is, well, you know how the rest goes, assuming you like movies and have had internet access over the past 14 years.

James Franco in “The Disaster Artist,” Courtesy of A24

The awards buzz around James Franco’s transformative performance as the mysterious Wiseau are no fluke. When we first meet him in the film, I couldn’t stop seeing James Franco doing an SNL skit, but as the story progressed, the more I saw Tommy Wiseau. The love and respect Franco clearly has for Wiseau and the story he’s recreating to film is evident, with the Academy Award nominated actor never stepping into a full-blown parody.

If I’m being frank, it’s Franco’s performance alone that elevates this unconventional biopic to something that anyone who’s ever wanted to follow their dreams can relate to.

The other performances are all serviceable, with Dave Franco doing an admirable job as Greg Sestero, having several scenes in which he gets to show off some of his dramatic acting chops. But let’s make no mistake, this is James Franco’s film through and through.

As a fan of the novel, I often found myself wishing the film would peel back the layers on Wiseau more, but we’d be looking at a much darker film than the one Franco set out to achieve. Separating my fandom of the memoir, The Disaster Artist as a film is entertaining as all Hell. This is a story about dreamers, friendship and most of all, the will to see your dreams come to life before your eyes, even if those dreams don’t end up the way you expect them to.

Grade: 8/10

@Nick_Casaletto

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