If you haven’t heard of “The Room,” you should acquaint yourself with it before you see “The Disaster Artist.”
In fact, you probably should see “The Room” before you see the newer film.
Here’s the deal: “The Room,” which is considered by many to be the most awful, unintentionally entertaining film ever made, became a cult classic upon its release in 2003. A self-produced film by the mysterious Tommy Wiseau, “The Room” stars Wiseau himself, who wrote, directed and produced the movie.
To say that “The Room” is amateurish is just the beginning of its description. What happened behind the scenes, apparently, is even more chaotic, bizarre and frenetic than what ended up in the movie. The screenplay is based on the actual memoir of Greg Sestero, whose book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made” is hugely entertaining.
That’s what “The Disaster Artist” is all about. It’s the real-life story of Wiseau, played to the hilt by Franco in what arguably is his finest role.
When struggling actor Greg Sestero (James Franco’s sibling Dave Franco — it’s easy to spot the resemblance) meets Wiseau in an acting class in San Francisco, his life changes within days. An oddball bro-mance begins, with the duo heading to the site of the fatal car crash that took James Dean’s life and then to Los Angeles, where Tommy decides to write and make a movie.
Tommy promises Greg stardom and glamor, while Greg tries to figure out just who Tommy is. Where was he born? How old is he? How did he come into millions of dollars to spend on “The Room?” (Most of these questions, incidentally, remain unanswered).
Tommy doesn’t rent his equipment. He buys it. He doesn’t exactly direct, either, but he does tell the other actors what to do while he arrives hours late to the set and forgets his lines.
Tommy’s unstable, and often loud and threatening behavior, is the basis for much of the movie’s hilarity. Also adding to the comedy are the bewildered reactions of those around him.
James Franco absolutely nails Wiseau, from his hard-to-place accent to his wildly shifting moods back stage and his “performances” onscreen.
The movie reminds me quite a bit of “Ed Wood,” a 1994 biopic about the peculiar Wood, another filmmaker with a skewed vision of art.
You can call “The Room” a disaster, but it wasn’t a failure. It has become a cult film, and Wiseau tours with it to great applause.
Regardless of what you think about “The Room,” you’re bound to enjoy “The Disaster Artist.”