The cinematic embarrassment that became a cult phenomenon now has its own movie dedicated to the madman at its core. Many wondered, how could anyone make a good movie out of what is widely considered one of the worst movies ever made? Jame Franco and his team have don’t exactly that thanks in large part to its surprising earnestness in relation to its titular subject and love of the property as a whole.
It perhaps could have been too easy to make a mockery of the lore behind, The Room. A enigmatic crazy person, Tommy Wiseau (portrayed by James Franco with a bizarre accent and a dream–to come to LA with the hopes of becoming a star. In tow with his best friend, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), the two struggle to make their dream a reality so they decide to manifest destiny themselves. Tommy conjures up a big time American drama in which he will star alongside Mark and together they will force Hollywood to know their names–and boy did they ever.
It’s hard to imagine anyone having interest in seeing The Disaster Artist without knowing the existence of The Room. I wish I could be in the room watching the reaction of anyone who does see it without that knowledge though–that would be entertainment enough. Tommy is such a character that to watch an accomplished actor portray him is something else in and of itself. And while Franco’s performance hits all of Tommy’s various mannerisms and quirks it does at times feel much more like imitation than a genuine embodiment of the man himself. Furthermore the film’s assortment of famous people playing cast and crew from the set of The Room can be a detriment to the immersion into the experience.
Picking these nits is much less about criticizing the artistic decisions and more about the integrity of disappearing into a moment in time and a story that is next to impossible to believe. Still, the cast is charming and the material is taken with both a seriousness and necessary tongue-in-cheek awareness that feels genuine to what it must have been like to be a part of Tommy’s world.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about The Disaster Artist is that even while people are laughing at and mocking Tommy’s vision, he’s never really treated as a joke. The eccentric writer, director and star is actually sympathetic as a dreamer who forms a bond with someone (Greg) who is genuinely drawn to his fearlessness and the two feed off their support for one another. From there comes the pressure of success, jealousy and inadequacy that we all as human begins endure–even the larger than life personalities out there.
The Disaster Artist thrives on treating an unbelievable story with an honest admiration and knowing sense of humor. It’s all at once a laugh-out-loud comedy, endearing story of friendship and unique underdog tale. The star studded cast can be a little distracting, but all-in-all Franco’s adaptation of Greg Sestero’s book is a surprising and delightful behind-the-curtain cinematic experience.
Beer Recommendation: Tommy Wiseau’s true origins remain a mystery, in spite of his own candid admission on Jimmy Kimmel about being from Eastern Europe–but who’s to say he didn’t admit that cause he thought that’s what we wanted to hear. However, he has famously always asserted that he is from New Orleans, Louisiana. So what better time to bust out a beer from the good folks at Abita Brewing Company by the name of Purple Haze. With no direct tie-in theme wise, Purple Haze is a raspberry wheat beer that is as colorful and unique as The Disaster Artist’s subject. It takes a true American classic style and adds a little extra flavor to it with the addition of raspberry. You get the classic bready characteristics of the classic wheat but with a fruity kick that livens things up a bit. Perfect for those long days on set questioning every artistic decision you ever made that put you in front of an unnecessary green screen.