Possibly the strangest film concept I have ever heard, The Disaster Artist offers insight into the making of arguably the worst film ever made. The film follows Tommy Wisseau played by an unrecognizable James Franco who sets out to make his own film with his best friend Greg Sestero, played by Franco’s real-life brother Dave Franco. Somehow managing to ignore all the rules of screenwriting and acting, Wisseau created a cult phenomenon, with audiences quoting lines across the globe, and although he claims the film was always meant to be a comedy, The Room creates the perfect backdrop for this real-life comedic tragedy.
Hearing this film involved the Franco brothers, Seth Rogan and a cameo from a super hyped Zac Efron, I worried this film would be full of slapstick comedy and weed jokes. But it seems that the pressure of doing this real-life story justice focused the team to deliver great comedy and great performances. It seems crazy to think that most of the guys from This Is The End would go on to make a film in serious contention for Oscars. Even funnier is the fact that that film would be based on a film which dialogue and direction is so bad it is should never have been released in cinemas, never mind make the $1800 it gained opening weekend, “Oh Hi Mark”.
Despite James Franco’s belligerent past, he is picking projects that make showcase his talent both in front of and behind the camera. For his performance as Tommy, some may say The Room gave Franco plenty of source material, but his voice and mannerisms were mimicked perfectly throughout the film. Franco demonstrated his comedic capabilities as well as his serious side, Tommy has his fair share of dark moments, clearly troubled with his relationship with Greg. The scene in the diner with Tommy and Greg acting loudly showed the great chemistry between the characters, helped by their offscreen brother relationship.
Although the older of the Franco brothers is receiving the awards consideration, I was actually preferred Dave Franco’s overall performance. I think The Disaster Artist is Greg’s film, about life before and post Tommy. Dave delivers a sympathetic character who lets his loyalty to Tommy derail his career and his relationships. The younger Franco brother is at a tipping point in his career, he can either go into disappointing comedies or look for interesting and unique roles, but The Disaster Artist will be a highlight of his career. Keeping it in the family, having his real-life wife Alison Brie play his girlfriend added to the authentic feel of the movie.
It wasn’t until the end credit until I learnt that James Franco had directed the film, but I was pleasantly surprised with his efforts. I particularly enjoyed the on-set shots that followed Tommy on his destructive directing techniques. The perfect ending to the film sees the scenes starring the all-star cast against the original clips from the film, Franco carefully picking the most memorable scenes from the original. This offers great fan-service for cult followers of the film, getting to see every scene from the infamous breast cancer twist, to the speedy flower shop transaction and the “You’re taring me apart Lisa!”.
Going in as someone who had only seen the most famous scenes from The Room on YouTube, I was surprised with how much I took away from the film. This felt like a serious film made by some of my favourite stars of juvenile comedy, showing the progression the actors and filmmakers are taking. The Disaster Artist adds to the ongoing legacy of The Room, sharing the film experience with an entirely new audience. The Franco brothers excel and offer a well-received film for both fans and critics. Films that explore the making of films are highly entertaining, although I worry we will enter a continuous cycle and a film about the production of The Disaster Artist will already be in production.
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