A young, struggling actor. A strange older man with a passion for performing matched only by the size of his bank account and the mystery that surrounds every other aspect of his life. And a weird, troubled, but ultimately touching friendship. These are the three key ingredients that resulted in one of the most beloved cult-classic movie of all time. And this is the story of how it all came together…in The Disaster Artist.
A MOVIE ABOUT A MOVIE
Directed by James Franco and based on the tell-all book of the same name, The Disaster Artist is a strange movie about some strange people making one of the world’s strangest movies–Tommy Wiseau’s so-bad-it’s-fascinating 2003 feature film, The Room. At times, the movie is uncomfortable. Other times, it’s laugh-out-loud funny. But, most impressively, The Disaster Artist is consistently a sincere look at two men whose friendship allowed them both to live out their shared dream of being actors and making a movie that people love.
Dave Franco costars as Greg Sestero, the author of The Disaster Artist and Tommy Wiseau’s best friend and costar of The Room. Meanwhile, James Franco directs and costars as Wiseau himself, the enigmatic and wholly bizarre man who convinces Greg to move with him to Los Angeles in the hope of living their dreams. Together the two struggle to make names for themselves in Hollywood–Greg with his limited talent and Tommy with his own unique set of issues. And after months of maximum effort and minimal results, Greg and Tommy decide that the only way they’re going to get what they deserve is by producing and starring in their own “real Hollywood movie.”
And while it might be easy to find yourself entertained by just the sheer amount of comedic talent present in the movie–a roster of notable actors that could easily rival that of 2013’s This is the End. While that alone might sell a lot of people one watching The Disaster Artist, the movie’s greatest strength isn’t in the comedy but in the care Franco takes to present a sincere tale about friendship.
A MOVIE ABOUT PEOPLE
Despite being based on true events, Wiseau’s very real, very odd personality can easily be mistaken as a farce. He could have easily been presented as this over-the-top eccentric. And it would have worked just as well. The movie in fact, may have made for a more hilarious, slapstick experience in line with the sort of projects one usually associates with talent like Franco and Seth Rogen.
But this isn’t a movie aimed at having a laugh at Wiseau’s expense. The intentional grounding of everything results in a movie that, while comedic, is equally dramatic and touching. Franco never makes light of Wiseau’s eccentric personality. At times, the intent is clearly to get audience’s to laugh at Wiseau–such as Wiseau’s super-melodramatic approach to acting. But at the same time, even scenes like this are an insight into the man’s personality. He never does anything half-assed, or what he at least perceives as such. And, as a result, there are time where you will, by design, feel guilty for having laughed at all.
And as we see throughout the film–through the general playing out of scenes, but primarily through Franco’s eerily on-point portrayal of Wiseau–Wiseau’s behavior is not coming from a place of comedic arrogance and hubris. It’s that of a man who is strange, yes, but is also fiercely dedicated to his passions. He loves his new friend Greg, to the point that he invites Greg to live with him the moment Greg earnestly displays his passion for acting. Tommy moves them both to Los Angeles so that they can both live out their dreams. And, ultimately, he doesn’t hesitate to foot the massive bill–rumored to be in excess of $6 million–to produce The Room, which itself was a labor of love intended to catapult both their careers.
A MOVIE ABOUT BROTHERS
Logical questions that should arise from watching the movie, such as who Tommy really is and how he can afford such things, are touched upon in the movie just as they were in real life–it simply doesn’t matter. The mystery of who Tommy Wiseau is or might be isn’t the story here. Instead, it’s about a deep friendship between two very different men. Tommy is a man who is unintentionally abusive and cold when all he ever wants to do is make those around him happy. Greg, meanwhile, is a young man whisked away from home at the young age of 19 who does all he can to mitigate the damage Tommy unintentionally causes around him.
The Disaster Artist, on the surface, is a great comedy about the making of a bad drama. But beyond that, it’s a touching drama about two brothers struggling to live out their dreams. One doesn’t need to have seen Wiseau’s The Room to fully appreciate The Disaster Artist, but it certainly helps. And as a companion piece to The Room, it highlights precisely why that movie transcends it’s own numerous shortcomings–shortcomings that would have been a death sentence to any other film and those involved with it.
Funny, heartwarming, introspective, weird, and inspiring. All words that easily describe nearly every frame of this movie as well as the two men at the center of it all. The Disaster Artist–even more so than the cult favorite movie that inspired it–is a definite CHILL.