Bob Foster

“The Disaster Artist” is a fantastic portrait of an awful movie

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The Disaster Artist

Directed by James Franco

Screenplay by Scott Nestadter & Michael. H. Weber, based upon the book by Greg Sistero and Tom Bissell and the film The Room written and directed by Tommy Wiseau

Starring James Franco, Dave Franco, Alison Brie, Seth Rogen

Production companies Good Universe, New Line

Distributed by A24

Release date Dec 1st

Running time 103 minutes

Rated R for language throughout, and some sexuality/nudity

 

Bad cinema can be as entertaining, if not more, as great cinema.  I love it. I seek it out. Not the bland, lifeless monsters of “eh, that wasn’t good”. No, those Frankensteins where all the parts are wrong yet somehow come together and make the monster command attention, “it’s glorious in badness,”  like The Apple, Fateful Findings, Birddemic and The Room. Sharknado and its brethren are not. The former films have a heart and some form of care and love, as misguided as they may be. The later are cynical “look at bad movie, Michael!” false cult films; they try to jump into the notoriety earned by The Room and the Apple, whispers of this atrocious but entertaining film somone showed you, then moving into Rocky Horror like interactive screenings. These films become more than the movie and gain their cult fans. But, there are plenty of bad movie fans who love Sharknado and the like, who profess to love the others but fail to see the soul.

James Franco sees the the soul.  At the announcement of the film, adapting the book by Wiseau’s beest freaund Greg Sistero, I was excited but worried: would it be 103 minutes of making fun centered around the bad Wiseau impersonation we all do.  Don’t’ worry about it, for Franco instantly sells his version of Wiseau, creating and disappearing into a true character out of a man who is often a caricature. Most importantly, he makes the audience feel for Wiseau in his ups and downs. It seems contradictory, we both laugh at him, his actions and other-worldly mannerisms, but our hearts break as well. But it feels right, Wiseau is tragi-comic in his deluded nature. He’s wired oddly and attempting to create a version of himself that no one else can see; trying to share his honest and heartfelt vision. Not even Greg Sistero.  

Dave Franco is the anchor for the film as the naive Sisterto. Dave, long “the other Franco,” has continually been promising. Even with sharing the screen with James, The Disaster Artist could be Dave’s break out role.  His Greg shares the story seen many other times, like last year’s La-La Land; wide eyed wanna be stars attempt to break into the business. Unlike the other stories, Greg (and Tommy) is lucky enough to fail upwards; watching as his dreams both begin to come true but not quite the way he expected. For both Francos, it takes great acting to play bad actors.

The rest of the cast, made up of notable comic actors, score laughs in perfectly recreating the disaster-piece and commenting on it. If there is any issue, there might be too much commenting in the same way we all do at home. If my audience was any indication, this is what a portion of the audience wants: to see something they’re familiar with reshown in a different way and snark along with the film.

Franco as a director imbues the wonder of LA and the desire to succeed against the odds, no matter how many things are standing against – like, say, a lack of talent.  He and editor Stacey Schroeder move the film along at a slick pace, balancing out the stories of Tommy and Greg and the creation of the film itself.

One doesn’t need to know and love/hate The Room to appreciate The Disaster Artist. At the core, it’s about friendship and using that to push each other no matter the odds. That gives a solid base for a loving portrait of an awful movie. The Disaster Artist, you’re my favorite customer.

 

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