Rated R

98 Minutes

Released December 8

 

In 2003 a movie was released in theatres called The Room, absolutely NOT to be confused with the superb 2015 drama Room starring Brie Larson. The quality of The Room did not even approach the inconsistent artistry of a student film, or that of a movie eagerly thrown together by a 9-year-old with an iPhone. Mediocrity permeated the project on many levels. Director/Writer/Producer Tommy Wiseau and his handsome co-star Greg Sestero were dreadful actors. The narrative jumped from one gaping hole to another with awkward dialogue that would embarrass even a cartoon character. This movie made only $1900 in its first two weeks. However, the production crossed the categories from boring to so ridiculously horrible that it became a beloved cult phenomenon as a comedic farce. People packed midnight screenings of the movie to throw plastic spoons at the screen and laugh hysterically. Celebrities such as Paul Rudd, Johan Hill and Edgar Wright became “fans.”

Sestero, with help from journalist Tom Bissell, has now written The Disaster Artist, a film about the making of this cinematic spectacle. James Franco, who loves to analyze people and events that are outside the box of normality, took on the roles of director and star. Franco plays the mysterious and obtuse Wiseau, whose strongest trait seems to be a misplaced self-confidence. Franco cast his brother Dave as “Sestero” and engaged friends Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Bryan Cranston, Judd Apatow and Zac Effron to play cameo roles in the movie.

The Disaster Artist looks at the unlikely friendship that developed between Wiseau and Sestero, that was strong enough to shield them from the pitfalls of the industry. They had met in an acting class where Sestero’s good looks attracted Wiseau, who had the unbridled confidence that Sestero lacked. When asked whether he has regrets about the path his career followed since the release of The Room, Sestero says, “Here’s the thing. Out of all those actors that were working with (his agent) at the time, very few are still acting, or have done stuff that we know about.”

There is an almost invisible line between comedy and tragedy, and such a line exists also between trash and art. The Disaster Artist is about the making of a movie that blurs that line. I would call it a tragi-comedy. Here art imitates art. Franco now has the money and the name to actually pull off what Wiseau tried to accomplish, at around the same age. Franco’s work is much more intelligent and thoughtful. Seth Rogen reported that Franco stayed in character as Wiseau on set, even when not on camera, and that people would ask him “Where’s James?” and Rogen would have to reply, “He’s right f*#!ing there!” Franco is always investigating, picking apart the clues. One of the most notable aspects of Franco’s work is that he’s not trying to impress with great artistry – he’s trying to give an honest view of a facet of life that fascinates him. Here he analyzes how the making of “The Worst Film Ever” probably went down.

 

 

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com

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