Directed by James Franco
“The Disaster Artist”, a sort of Ed Wood meets an antithesis of James Dean, is a biographical comedy-drama about the eccentric Tommy Wiseau, the actor, producer, and director behind the cult indie drama “The Room” (2003), many times considered by the critics as one of the worst movies ever. The one who took advantage from that peculiarity was actor/director James Franco (“127 Hours”, “Spring Breakers”), who builds up a widely entertaining story about the making of that movie, often using a rollicking sense of humor to describe Wiseau’s personality. He focuses on his dreams and frustrations, as well as on the bizarre friendship with his movie partner, the actor Greg Sestero. The screenplay by the team Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“500 Days of Summer”, “The Spectacular Now”) was adapted from Sestero and Tom Bissell’s non-fiction book that gave the film its title.
James Franco decided to embody Wiseau himself, bestowing a droll expression that characterizes an intriguing man with a mysterious past, weird Eastern accent, long hair, and stony pose. Moreover, he has no skills for playing football, lies about his age, and claims he was raised in New Orleans. Money is not a problem for him, a fact that constitutes another mystery, and all these aspects, in addition to his awkward ways, are what compels us to know more about him.
After befriending the 19-year-old Sestero (director’s brother Dave Franco) in San Francisco in an acting class, Wiseau invites him to move with him into his well-located apartment in LA, so they can follow their dream and becoming movie stars. The duo makes a pact for life, whose guidelines are to push each other, believe in each other, and never give up on their dreams.
Wiseau, whose semblance would give a wonderful Frankenstein or Dracula, refuses to play a villain role, being successively discarded by the Hollywood studios due to his terrible accent. But because he is a go-getter, he equally attempts unorthodox methods to achieve his goal, like approaching a famous producer in a restaurant. Yet, that strategy only results in sadness and frustration. The embarrassing situation, rather than remove his stubbornness or ambition, leads him to make the irreversible decision of producing his own film, The Room, based on a defective script he wrote.
The 40-day shooting schedule starts smoothly but develops into a nightmare, especially after Sestero, who plays a leading role in the film, has promulgated woman bartender Amber (Alison Brie) as his girlfriend. Jealousy and bad temper dominate our anti-hero from that point on, which makes “The Disaster Artist” even more appetizing and outrageously funny in its last section.
The absolutely gorgeous soundtrack boasts tunes such as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibration”, Faith No More’s “Epic”, and Corona’s “Rhythm of the Night”, which help to create the right mood at the right time.
Beguiling rather than thrilling, this new cult film fully defines its characters, serving as a showcase for the Francos' acting skills, particularly James. The one who didn’t get enough space to shine was the comedy celebrity Seth Rogen, who calmly embodied Wiseau’s script supervisor, Sandy Schklair.
By recreating the true story behind a weird film, Franco also creates a weird film. He takes his directorial career to a higher peak, delivering the weirdest and perhaps the funniest comedy of 2017.