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The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist ticketstubDo you remember that spectacularly bad movie The Room by the now infamous writer/director/producer/star of the film, Tommy Wiseau? No? It's okay, these days, it's mostly known for being bad and having a sort of cult following in the vein of Rocky Horror Picture Show. People go to midnight screenings and do callbacks and have props, I hear it's pretty amazing. I've never done that myself, I saw it being riffed on a live RiffTrax show. Anyway... The Disaster Artist follows Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero as they meet, become friends, move to Los Angeles, and, after some rough years of trying to get work in Hollywood, decide to make their own damn movie. The reason this is such a spectacle is that Tommy, played cringingly by James Franco, is such an inexplicable character, and Greg, played by James' real life brother, Dave Franco, is such an ordinary guy. Greg is puzzled by Tommy's quirks, but also kind of enamored by how completely oblivious he seems to the world's standards of normalcy. He wears outrageous clothing (for example, five belts of various types and styles and positions around his waist) and will run lines loudly in a crowded restaurant. He seems to not give any fucks about how the world sees him, yet desperately wants to be seen by the world, and he wants to be seen as the hero of whatever he's doing. As Greg tries to be an adult and score acting gigs, Tommy feels more and more left behind as he fails to find any success at all in Hollywood. This growing divide prompts Tommy to suggest the two of them make a movie, and that's how we get The Room. We watch them go through writing and casting and hiring production people and right into the filming of various iconic scenes. They go to great effort to recreate the sets, scenes, acting styles, and lines with excruciating detail. In fact, at the end of the movie, before the credits roll, they do side-by-side comparisons between scenes from the original movie, and scenes shot for The Disaster Artist and it is a beautiful thing. I would say my favorite scene of the movie is the post-credits scene in which James Franco is playing Tommy and is approached by the real Tommy playing a different character, and the brief conversation that ensues, in a way, caps off the whole experience, like the cherry on a grand sundae.

Was it good? Fuck yeah it was good. Franco captures the weirdness of Tommy and Dave Franco plays a great starving actor, hungry for work and attention, but also a grounding force for Tommy, though, as he learns, Tommy can't be grounded. He will always be floating in skies of his own creation. The Room is not a good movie, but a story about The Room is amazing, filled with hilarious scenes, cringing scenes, reality, fantasy, and heart. Absolutely worth a watch, even if you haven't seen The Room, but it will definitely be better if you have.

5/5