The Disaster Artist (2017)
Directed by James Franco
If you’ve never seen “The Room,” you’re missing out on the worst film ever to release on a big screen, and also the best time you can ever imagine having in a movie theater. If you’ve never seen “The Room,” you’re also not going to get as much out of “The Disaster Artist,” the dramatized retelling of the making of Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestero’s (Dave Franco) passion project, which in the past fifteen years has become an unintentionally comedic cinematic landmark.
That’s because “The Disaster Artist,” while catering to those who haven’t since its source material, draws the most laughs from inside jokes. While it’s true that you can read these “secrets” online, going to a showing of “The Room” will clue you in more thoroughly. That, and the cameos—more than a dozen of director James Franco’s famous friends traipse through in roles big and small, all in hilarious fashion. But the film’s script, by a pair of screenwriters best known for “500 Days of Summer” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” is a mostly formulaic true story beginning with the day Tommy and Greg met and ending on the night of the film’s premiere. Everything in the middle is a mostly honest and chronological retelling of the events going into the creation of “The Room,” with some jokes injected to keep us interested. The real standout here is James Franco, immersing himself into the role. By the sounds of it, he spent considerable time with the real Tommy, learning his accent and mannerisms. He perfects it. Whether he’s a talented actor or just a really great mimic, at this point it doesn’t really matter. He’s so magnetic in the role, it’s tough to remember anyone else very clearly.
I only wish “The Disaster Artist” had more to offer than its formulaic story about something that’s only really interesting if you’re already familiar with what it’s about. If you are, the movie can provide some hearty laughs and some interesting backstory. But even still, it fails to become a top-tier movie by being the James Franco show. Perhaps his performance will attract award season chatter, but I can’t imagine anything else about the movie will. “The Disaster Artist” isn’t a bad movie…but a Best Picture nominee? I don’t see it.