THE DISASTER ARTIST

by Alan Yudman

A friend once asked me if I had seen THE ROOM (see link). I hadn’t so he loaned me his DVD copy and told me to “enjoy”. Yeah… enjoy is the wrong word. It is generally considered to be the worst movie ever made. It has become a favorite of midnight screenings where people dress up like the characters and throw things at the screen. But the story of how it was made and the man who made it are more compelling than anyone realized at the time. That story inspired James Franco, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg to make THE DISASTER ARTIST. And we are all better for it.

This is the story of Tommy Wiseau. I’d tell you who he is, but even 14 years after he made this steaming pile of doo doo, no one really knows who he is. He speaks with an obvious Eastern European accent, but insists he is from New Orleans. He financed THE ROOM out of his own pocket, but no one knows where he got his money. See, a mystery. Wiseau meets Greg Sestero in a San Francisco acting class. The pretty, but largely untalented Sestero is impressed by Tommy’s passion and he two hit it off and decide to move to L.A. to become actors. Here’s the problem, they are botah terrible and cannot get hired. So at Sestero’s urging, Tommy makes a movie on his own. Voilá, THE ROOM was born.

This is the best thing I have ever seen Franco & Co. do. It’s not their usual half-funny stoner comedy. This is a compelling story that is well told. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber adapted the screenplay from Sestero’s book about the making of the original movie that he co-wrote with Tom Bissell. Franco takes that script and breathes even more life into it. But it’s not just his direction. He plays Tommy and it is a spot on imitation of Wiseau. He has his speech patterns and accent down perfectly. I don’t think he his mocking him, it is a loving portrayal. Sestero is played by Franco’s brother Dave, in my mind the better Franco. He hits the notes perfectly.. embracing Sestero’s lack of talent and passion for acting. The film is also loaded with small roles for great comic actors. Rogen (less of Seth is always preferable), Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone, Judd Apatow (as himself), Paul Scheer, Hannibal Buress, Jason Mantzoukas, Megan Mullaly, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, Jacki Weaver…. that’s only a partial list. Each one is fabulous.

It’s obvious the regard Franco has for the source material. Each re-shot scene from THE ROOM is spot on. It’s an exact duplication (stay for the credits and you’ll see what I mean).

Even if you have not seen THE ROOM, you will be able to appreciate THE DISASTER ARTIST for what it is, an incredibly interesting story that is very well told.

I only have one more thing to say… “I DID NOT HIT HER, IT’S NOT TRUE! IT’S BULLSHIT! I DID NOT HIT HER! OH, HI MARK”.

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