by Molly Schiltz, FILM CRITIC
15 December 2017
James and Dave Franco star together in The Disaster Artist which has been nominated for two Golden Globe awards. Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Fox.
The Disaster Artist, nominated for two Golden Globe awards–one for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) and one for Best Actor (Musical or Comedy), is the story behind the making of Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 movie The Room, popularly dubbed as one of the greatest bad movies ever made, and the friends that withstood the tests of Hollywood to follow their dreams and stay true to themselves. In any other context, the film’s plot could be seen as cliched and boresome, even formulaic. Here, it was unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
This movie laughs at the petty attempts that the boundaries of “good” and “bad” try to contain it to, and instead goes on to explore new territory in a celebration and exploration behind the making of the “best worst movie” ever created. The indisputable uniqueness of the movie, and the truths it recognizes, is what truly leaves an impression.
James Franco directs and stars as the unconventional Tommy Wiseau, who is unafraid to showcase his inner self. Dave Franco stars alongside his brother as Greg Sestero, a timid actor trying to find the courage to let go and truly immerse himself in his acting. After Greg sees Tommy’s ability to lend his soul to his work and let passion overcome him in an acting class the two share, he asks him for some acting tips leading to their friendship and eventual realization of the parallels in their dreams to achieve greatness in acting. The two make a pact to always push and support each other, and to never give up their dreams.
Greg’s budding career is shadowed at every turn by Tommy’s failures and misfortunes.
Just as Tommy decides he wants to give up, Greg reminds him of their pact and encourages him to make the movie he always wanted to make. With that, the journey of The Room begins.
For some, The Room might come off as silly. Walking into the theater moviegoers may expect to see a James Franco film about a terrible movie. For others though, there is something to enjoy in The Room. The cult following of the movie became evident even as I sat watching the movie, as the pair behind me imitated the actors on screen imitating various lines from The Room, like the iconic “Oh, hi, Mark,” or “You’re tearing me apart!” lines.
In the end, The Disaster Artist is not a movie solely about The Room. The Disaster Artist is so much more than that. After acknowledging the simple, cold-hard truths presented, viewers are left with this gaping sense of realness, the proximity of which may make them very uncomfortable at times.
For those who have never experienced The Room though, there is still so much to be seen and appreciated in The Disaster Artist. (For those unfamiliar with the original cult classic, stick around for the entirety of the film, even through the credits, where you’ll be entertained with side-by-side reenactments of the original film alongside Franco’s masterpiece. The post-credits even provide you with a glimpse of the real life Wiseau.) Moviegoers who are simply looking to undertake a new cinematic experience will find themselves pleased with their choice, still appreciative of all of the Disaster Artist’s plot and meaning, even if they have never heard of The Room previously.
The Disaster Artist is the atypical story of hope and perseverance behind a man who refuses to give up his dream even when the world continuously tells him he isn’t good enough.
Throughout the entirety of the movie, viewers are dragged on an emotionally taxing journey as they come to marvel at and sympathize with Tommy again and again. At the beginning viewers look at Tommy and his idiosyncratic behavior and simply wonder at his ability to maintain his own sense of self in the world. He isn’t afraid to bare his soul to the world, and you get this glimpse behind the mystery of dreams.
But as the movie goes on, he is told he will never be enough. He is told he is a frankenstein, a villain, and will never amount to more. You begin to sympathize with Tommy and feel sorry for him. The entire movie he keeps on fighting with his infallible spirit but it is never enough. It becomes painful to watch at times, especially as you remember time and time again that this is all based on true events. To watch such soul- crushing of someone who obviously possesses so much heart is draining. This rollercoaster ride of seeing the beauty behind Tommy’s peculiarities to seeing him through others’ eyes, as somewhat of a joke, is what makes the movie so different and the story so engaging,
In the end, The Disaster Artist is not a movie solely about The Room. The Disaster Artist is so much more than that. After acknowledging the simple, cold-hard truths presented, viewers are left with this gaping sense of realness, the proximity of which may make them very uncomfortable at times. The genuine nature of the film is something that cannot be denied and is something that puts the film in its own separate category– not to be classified as good or bad, but as something else entirely– for it is not something seen everyday.
I can’t think of another word to describe what one encounters in the movie other than a raw, utter, realness that is exposed only because Franco strips away the standard beliefs. Through both his acting and directing Franco provides a profound understanding of the fact that we don’t really understand the mystery behind following one’s dreams. The movie shows the real emotions of real life, the capacity and depth of which are expounded in the movie through the characters’ interactions with Tommy.
Both The Disaster Artist and The Room are rated R.
Molly Schiltz is a film critic for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL