THE DISASTER ARTIST: Movie Review

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The film finds director, producer and actor James Franco making one of his best films yet out of the behind the scenes of one the ‘worst films’ The Room.

If you’re obsessed with 2003’s hypnotically inept romantic drama The Room and if you have made it a habit to periodically check out the midnight screenings that have become ritualistic viewing experiences for die-hard dialogue quoters then The Disaster Artist, a warmhearted comedy about The Room’s uneasy genesis, is very much for you. Firing on all creative cylinders, James Franco, both as the director and actor (he plays Tommy Wiseau) adds his own sense of psychological bruises that accompany failure in this warm hearted comedy about The Room’s uneasy genesis. James Franco clearly relates to Tommy Wiseau on one level in that both are passionate creators who often make instinctual decisions instead of logical ones.

The film is a narrative through the eyes of Dave Franco’s Greg Sestero, a young actor in San Francisco who meets Tommy in an acting class. The two move to Los Angeles together, where Wiseau has an apartment. What is mysterious is how Wiseau has enough money to have apartments in multiple cities is a mystery or his actual age and country of origin. Although he tells people he’s in his twenties and from New Orleans none of it is obviously true. After a bunch of rejections in Hollywood, Greg suggests they make their own movie. The rest is history.

But from what is portrayed in the film, the production of The Room was an absolute nightmare. Much of it is hysterical and Franco has gone ahead and portrayed Tommy as much of a pain in every body’s neck. Wiseau comes across as a maniac, something that dawns on everybody involved, including Greg, much later. However, the underlying theme of the film is the friendship between Tommy and Greg, and their support for each other, even when they shouldn’t.

Walking a tightrope between deference and disrespect, Franco is committed to the role of Tommy Wiseau. Apart from the undercurrent of pathos its Franco's comic timing that wins the film. Mastering Wiseau’s vaguely European accent and staggered speech Franco masters his genuine earnestness and passion for filmmaking.

There’s something deeply meta about the film especially because Franco’s best film as a director is a movie about making films with your best friends. Given how often he does just that including this one which has people like Seth Rogen and his brother Dave Franco in this one.

Dave as Greg Sestero is good and matches Franco senior’s comic timing. It's fitting that the two characters bond in rejection, something they both invariantly face ever since they land in Los Angeles. While Sestero finds an agent and a girlfriend (Allison Brie), Wiseau finds rejection from a miffed Judd Apatow in a restaurant. After all of these rejections Wiseau decides to write his own movie and self finance it with $6 million he's raised from mysterious sources. It will star his best friend and himself. It will be called The Room.

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The Disaster Artist is a good movie about a bad movie. Most importantly, it is just really funny. Franco is a good director and even better actor who hits a new career peak by making sure his film is as heartfelt as it is hilarious. The recreations of key scenes from that kitsch classic are shot with stunning conviction and played to the scrappy hilt by an up-for-anything cast, including Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson and Jacki Weaver. These merry pranksters make sure that this movie is a comic bonanza that deserves to form its own cult.

★★★ 1/2

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