Non-spoiler review: James Franco's 'The Disaster Artist' never resorts to parodying its beloved source material
(image via A24)
"I did not hit her, it's not true, it's bullshit, I did not hit her, I did not. Oh, hi Mark."
The Disaster Artist is the most entertaining film you’ll see this year. When a project about the worst movie of all time starts generating Oscar buzz, you know you've got something special. And the hype is well-deserved.
To appreciate the quality of this project, you must understand the film it's based on. I've been told that you don't need to see The Room prior to The Disaster Artist, but I'm glad I did.
Without context, you're basically just watching a deformed James Franco talk with a funny accent. The story eventually builds organically, but why wait? A little preliminary research will make your experience much more enjoyable. I promise.
If you haven't seen The Room, here's a brief of summary:
Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) is engaged to Lisa (Juliette Danielle). Despite being a really good guy - a fact that we're reminded of every ten minutes or so - Lisa wants to leave Johnny. She manipulates his best friend Mark (Greg Sestero) into sleeping with her, thus betraying their friendship and tearing Johnny apart.
It's terrible, but extremely entertaining.
My only complaint was that it wasn't longer. The Room captivated audiences for two decades as one of the best train-wrecks to ever hit the big screen; a truly beautiful disaster.
So, when it was announced that a Hollywood adaptation of The Disaster Artist (a behind-the-scenes book written by co-star Greg Sestero) was on the way, audiences began salivating with anticipation.
A slew of stars make cameos in the film. Kristen Bell, Adam Scott, Zac Efron, Seth Rogan, Paul Sheer, Alison Brie. Josh Hutcherson played a great Denny (Philip Haldiman) and Dave Franco shined as the sympathetic lead, Greg Sestero.
But people can't stop talking about James Franco's Tommy Wiseau and for good reason. Not only was the impression spot on - as evident by the side-by-side reel that runs just before the end credits - but the tone was perfect.
This could have easily been a parody film. Simultaneously ridiculed and beloved by fans, a 'making-of The Room' could have taken on a very different tone.
It was obvious how much this project meant to the Franco brothers. In between the laughs, there are genuinely emotional moments. This was due to choices made by Franco, both as an actor and as the director. He was careful not to portray Wiseau as a laughing stock. Mirroring the mysteries of the real-life Wiseau, you never really knew whether he was in on the joke.
Some of the lies about his life are so ridiculous that they must be satirical. Tommy was 20 years-old at the time of filming? He was born in the U.S. and has a New Orleans' accent? "Hahaha you must be kidding, aren't you?"
The lasting-appeal of The Room centers around the walking of that line. The deeper you dig, the more questions you’re left with, sending fans on a never-ending hunt for the hidden truth. That, my friends, is a recipe for a cult-following and The Disaster Artist plays to that audience perfectly.
Do yourself a favor and see this in theaters. The reaction from fellow movie-goers - just like with screenings of The Room - is all part of the fun. And if you choose not to watch The Room before seeing The Disaster Artist, I can guarantee you'll be seeking it out afterwards.