R Dir: James Franco | Lionsgate | 1h 44min
Plot: What’s it about?
You’ve probably got a better chance at getting struck by lightning than making it as an actor in Hollywood. Sorry, true believers, but it’s a fact. The good ones (actors) make it look so easy that anyone who’s been told by Mommy and Daddy that they can make it is, well, living in la la land. But if you’ve got unlimited financial resources and a natural inclination to never give up, that might make things a bit easier. Such is the case with Tommy Wiseau who, in 2003, crafted what can only be hailed as one of the worst films ever made – if not the worst film ever made. If you’ve never heard of The Room, The Disaster Artist tells the story of it and the enigmatic Wiseau who made it all come true. Based on star Greg Sestero’s novel of the same name, the film tells a tale much like Tim Burton did with 1994’s Ed Wood. Lights. Camera. Action!
Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) wants to be an actor as does Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). The two meet in a San Francisco acting class, strike up an unlikely friendship and decide to make a go of it, moving (and living) in Wieseau’s Los Angeles apartment. After finding limited success as actors, Sestero jokingly suggests that the two should just writer their own movie. And so it happens. Wiseau writes, produces and directs the script for The Room. It seems to lack any discernible plot line, but Wiseau and his seemingly bottomless pit of money manage to get the production rolling. Wiseau, who can’t seem to remember or even say his lines with any conviction, is convinced that it’s the best movie ever made and through some “creative differences” with some key crew members (Seth Rogen), manages to isolate many of those around him. Hollywood is a cut throat town, but there’s no denying that The Disaster Artist seems to hit the nail on the head.
Tinseltown seems to love movies about making movies. Classics like Singin’ in the Rain, Sunset Boulevard and a few others have withstood the test of time due to how they manage to convey what’s going on behind the scenes. Sestero had a front row seat to this train wreck of a film and one that’s gained such cultural notoriety that it’s actually managed to gross the initial $6 million dollar budget back (over the years). That’s saying something. Of note, the film isn’t mocking the source material, rather it manages to convey the enthusiasm that it took to make such a bad film to begin with. Personally, I loved the movie and it’s really James Franco’s performance that held it all together. The film ends with several scenes from The Room compared with those that they did for the film and it’s amazing how accurately they’re represented. Part of me, like many others, wants to see The Room and it’s a testament to how amazingly honest The Disaster Artist was.
Video: How’s it look?
I’ve not seen The Room, but if the film is accurate in that they used both HD and film cameras, then The Disaster Artist has hit the nail on the head. The 2.40: 1 AVC HD image simply glistens from beginning to end. The exterior, sunny Los Angeles shots look amazing while the majority of the film seems to have a more muted look to it (then again, how colorful can movie sets actually be?). Detail and texture are top notch, Franco’s jet black mane of hair is topped only by Dave Franco’s blonde wig. It’s a good-looking image and one that’s sure to please.
Audio: How’s it sound?
In an odd move, then again considering the source material…I’m not surprised, this features a Dolby TrueHD mix. There are some excellent ambient effects here, namely with the cast and crew on the set. Couple that with some of the “buzz” of downtown Los Angeles and it actually works. A few scenes in a nightclub offer forth some more dynamic range. Vocals, for which this movie has a lot, aren’t marred at all. Franco’s Wiseau sounds like he’s either perpetually drunk or half asleep, but after hearing the real Tommy Wiseau speak – it’s spot on. No complaints here.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Gag Reel – This features about four or five minutes of outtakes and missed lines, etc.
- Audio Commentary – Contributors James Franco, Dave Franco, Tommy Wiseau, Greg Sestero, and a few others fill a packed house and make for, at times, a very entertaining track. It’s almost too crowded, but for those who simply can’t get enough of this film (and I’m one of them), this is nearly two hours of heaven.
- Oh, Hi Mark!: Making a Disaster – The name of this featurette is a lot more clever than the subject matter contained within. It’s fairly standard behind the scenes footage juxtaposed with interviews with the cast and crew. At 13 minutes, it’s not too short, but I felt they could have given this a bit more attention.
- Directing a Disaster – I feel there would be no other choice to direct this film other than Franco and this segment is essentially dedicated to him. Interviews with some other cast members make this one to watch.
- Just a Guy Leaning on a Wall: Getting to Know Tommy – I’d have to imagine that it’s hard to get to know the real Tommy Wiseau, but this is about as close as you can come. Interviews with the cast and crew along with some snippets of the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau.
- Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
This is living proof that making a movie about a bad movie is usually much more entertaining than the film in question. This was the first teaming of siblings Dave and James Franco, both who have said that they’d like to do it again. So be on the lookout for that. I simply couldn’t get enough of James Franco’s Tommy Wiseau, it’s his performance that makes this work. A great cast, with a few “surprise” extras make this one to check out.