The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist

You could just look at this as one of the most seriously funny movies about movie making, but why stop there? Thanks to James Franco’s canny eye, this love song to a film so bad it’s good also delivers one of the best emotional surprises of the year.

Based on the true story of a wannabe filmmaker, the mysterious Tommy Wiseau, this star-filled recreation starts as Tommy meets the innocent Greg in a Northern California acting class. The two forge an unlikely friendship and soon are relocating to an apartment Tommy keeps in L.A. Pinkie swearing to support and encourage one another, the two find themselves on very different paths. Yet when Tommy patches together enough money to make a film, Greg can’t say no.

The real movie Tommy and Greg released into theaters, well, theater, is called The Room. It is unwatchable. But somehow, word got out. Eventually the unwatchable became a cult classic, with crowds gathering to throw plastic spoons at the screen and scream out dialogue. Go know.

James Franco knew. Or at least he knew a good idea when he saw it. Based on a book about the making of the film and his own meetings with Wiseau, Franco, along with screenwriters Michael H. Weber and Scott Neustadter have created a heartbreaking Hollywood comedy. There are the usual jokes about “the town”, “the industry” and stardom, but there’s also an insistent underlay of thoughts about male friendship and aliens who try but just can’t somehow fit in.

From the moment Franco opens his mouth, onscreen as the sore-thumb Tommy, we know this isn’t the usual leading man kind of performance. Taking no shortcuts, Franco muffles his words, chops his way through English in an undefinable accent. His laugh is nuts. His pain hurts to watch. Especially as an actor directing himself, Franco delivers an amazing piece of work here. And I’m not just talking about Tommy.