By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
For every person that’s followed their dreams only to have them crushed or failed spectacularly at any endeavor, you can take heart in James Franco’s latest dramedy “The Disaster Artist.”
Written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, “The Disaster Artist” is based on Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell's non-fiction book of the same name.
“The Disaster Artist” chronicles the making of actor/producer Tommy Wiseau's 2003 film “The Room,”
which is considered “one of the worst movies ever made.” But a funny thing happened during “The Room’s” theatrical run. Although audiences ridiculed the low budget, black comedy--reportedly made for $6 million--they also turned out all over the world to see it.
Consequently, “The Room” garnered a cult-like status and remains a treasure among Wiseau’s legion of cinephiles.
So, leave it to Franco to produce, direct and star in “The Disaster Artist,” a movie that in many ways not only mocks “The Room,” but also pays homage to it in such a bizarre and so-bad-it’s good-kind-of-way.
“The Disaster Artist,” takes place in 1998 and Franco stars as Tommy Wiseau, a mysterious, long-haired looking dude with a strange accent from New Orleans or Europe—no one really knows.
But, Tommy, who looks like he’s in his mid-30s--no one really knows his age for sure either--apparently has money up the wazoo. He also has a passion for acting and filmmaking that won’t quit, although his San Francisco acting school teacher Jean Shelton (Melanie Griffith, TV’s “The Path”) wishes he’d immediately find another line of work to pursue.
While in class, Tommy meets 19-year-old Greg Sestero (Dave Franco, James’ little brother), a model/actor from Walnut Creek, California who has “the look” and with some polish and work could potentially make it in the business. Maybe.
Despite Tommy being the laughing stock of his acting class, Greg is fascinated by Tommy’s indomitable spirit and the two soon bond.
Before long, they decide to move to Los Angeles and pursue their acting dreams since Tommy has an apartment there too.
Well, Greg is in it to win it. He doesn’t waste any time and meets an agent named Iris Burton (Sharon Stone, TV’s “Mosaic”) who lands him a few small gigs. He also hooks up with pretty, young thing named Amber (Allison Brie, TV’s “GLOW” and “BoJack Horseman”).
Meanwhile, Tommy is trying to get his big break, but nothing is really clicking. He doesn’t do himself any favors when he intrudes on Judd Apatow at a restaurant while he’s trying to enjoy a nice, quiet dinner.
Tommy demands he listen to him recite some lines. An infuriated Apatow tells Tommy that he’s terrible and will never work in the industry in a million years. “But after that,” says Tommy clearly unfazed by Apatow’s stinging diss.
Still, Tommy gets the bright idea to write and produce his own movie—with his unlimited finances--and insists that Greg be part of it.
The title? “The Room.”
Talk about flying by the seat of your pants. Tommy doesn’t know the first thing about filmmaking, although he does hire some talented people to be part of the production. (Ari Graynor, TV’s “I’m Dying Up Here”), June Diane Raphael (TV’s “Grace and Frankie” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) Josh Hutcherson (TV’s “Futureman”) and Zac Efron (“Baywatch”).
Seth Rogen (“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”) is Tommy’s script supervisor and he runs a tight ship. He also runs into plenty of issues with Tommy. For starters, Tommy has no sense of time and shows up whenever he wants and treats his crew badly. Not only can’t Tommy remember his lines, which he wrote by the way, but he says them so incoherently it’s mindboggling.
When “The Room” is finally completed, the movie makes its debut to a packed auditorium that includes the cast and crew and an introduction from Tommy.
It doesn’t take long for everyone in attendance to see just what a disaster this thing is. They laugh like crazy at the terrible dialogue and acting.
Tommy is visibly upset that his passion project has been turned into a big joke. That’s until Greg points out that although everyone laughed, they were having a great time and loved the movie. Wait. What? It’s true. When Tommy goes on stage, he’s greeted with a standing ovation.
What’s even more fascinating about this unbelievable true story, is how well Franco immerses himself in the role.
While James and Dave share some hilarious moments throughout the film, James takes “The Disaster Artist” beyond broad satire to give it an edge that is sharp and palpable.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:40 p.m. on radio station KFBK 1530 AM and 93.1 FM.
Take A Peek At This Trailer For "THE DISASTER ARTIST"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics’ Association (BFCA), the Black Reel Awards Voting Academy and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.