This weekend, I went to a showing of The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s film adaptation of the memoir by the same name that details the making of one of the best worst movies ever created, The Room. It was amazing.
I haven’t been a part of the cultish fandom surrounding The Room for long—I saw the movie about a week ago and didn’t know what to expect. All I knew that the movie was bad. The film started up, I saw some comforting stock footage of San Francisco, and then the plot quickly descended into its monotonous chaos: a bland love triangle between protagonist Johnny (played by writer/director/actor/producer/enigmatic “New Orleans” native Tommy Wiseau), fiancé Lisa, and best friend Mark. The serious film’s unintended comedic genius is the only thing that kept me watching—from the random thug who doesn’t have time to wait five minutes for his drug money to the elderly mother who is surprisingly nonchalant about her breast cancer diagnosis and especially the most laughable boring floral shop scene I’ve ever seen—and without them, I don’t think I would have lasted all the way through. It was an experience I enjoyed, but in no way would want to sit through again.
After watching the film, I was left with so many questions about how it was made and why anyone would want to make it in the first place. Enter The Disaster Artist. Franco’s movie about a movie was an insightful, yet comedic look into the mind of Wiseau and the production of The Room. It begins with Tommy and Greg (the author of the memoir and actor who played Mark) meeting at an acting class in San Francisco and continues through their questionable friendship as they try to make it in Hollywood. It’s a story about friendship, a story about stardom, a story about what it takes to “make it,” both in terms of the actual movie and life in general.
As funny as it was—every time Franco uttered a signature Wiseau “ah ha ha” I just about died of laughter—The Disaster Artist was also a heartfelt recreation of this real-life individual. I found myself feeling sympathetic for Wiseau, and was rooting for him the entire time. While watching The Room, I didn’t even think that would be possible. This preposterous, out-of-his-mind, kind-of-a-jerk wannabe didn’t seem capable of earning my sympathy. In The Disaster Artist, it became possible. His unyielding determination to make a great movie was weirdly infectious, and after seeing the film, I felt a strange need to work on my own craft.
The Disaster Artist is one of the best films I’ve seen this year (and yeah, I watched Thor Ragnarok). It perfectly mixes both the overflowing passion and the out-of-this-world ridiculousness inhabited by The Room’s genius creator and tells a story that is equal parts inspiring biopic and fun-filled comedy. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves The Room, anyone who has at least seen The Room, and anyone who is a living breathing person in general. It was just that good.
Watch the trailer for the film below: