Think about your all-time favorite comedic films. What are the criterion? From my point-of-view, at the top of the list is endurance. It seems that very few movies can pas this test, but in order for a comedy to be memorable, it is, indeed, essential.
When Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero teamed up some 15 years ago, in San Francisco, they never could have imagined where life would take them. Especially, when one considers where they are NOW. There are some striking similarities between the team that made “The Disaster Artist, “ which is loosely based on THAT team which made “The Room.” The biggest difference is that James Franco and Seth Rogan MUST have known that they were acquiring pure gold. Wiseau and Sestero could only dream for the best, while getting the worst.
Many film nuts are acutely familiar with the infamous “The Room.” Notoriety is not limited to a positive outcome on a movie project, but success is, ALSO, not limited to being a great film. This is the paradox of being infamously good or famously bad. THAT is “The Room.” The only person or thing that might be equally mysterious is Tommy Wiseau, himself. To this day, no one knows his true identity, whether it be his age or his place of origin. With all that money he was funneling into the project of “The Room,” you cannot help but wonder if there is STILL some kind of connection between the secret persona of Mister Wiseau AND his secret batch of income.
Like Wiseau, Franco opted to direct and star in his latest movie, though Franco had nothing to do with the writing, based on the book “The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Film Ever Made.” What have I previously said about extra long titles? I still stand by that assertion, but will give this one a pass because it was merely BASED on the material it represents. One thing I can say for this film is that I believe it can and will pass the endurance test of what it takes to be a great comedic film. It is almost too easy. If you know anything of “The Room,” it would be hard to miss, but there is still the matter of execution and THESE guys delivered, splendidly.
The story begins a few years prior to the making of “The Room.” Dave Franco (“Now You See Me 2”) is Greg Sestero, a good-looking, but somewhat withdrawn actor, trying to work his way up in the movie industry. James Franco (“Sausage Party”) is Tommy Wiseau, a bold, but eccentric figure who is not clear about what his real ambitions are, but he is a passionate person and he is charismatic, at least to some. For others, not so much.
One of the things I have been asked about this film is whether or not it will be funny for those who have never seen “The Room.” What makes this such a success as a comedy is the fact that it is naturally funny. There no gimmicks or cheap jokes because it is all based on real life. I would say that Tommy Wiseau likely did not enjoy the idea of being laughed at, when in fact he meant to be serious, but it seems he has accepted the fate of his film and his attachment to it. That is easy to do NOW, but it was probably not so, back in 2003.
If there is any weakness to this movie, it is in some of the performances/casting choices of the portrayed actors from the original film. While I cannot say with any authority whether Seth Rogen (“Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising”) as Sandy Schklair was a bad match for the part, Josh Hutcherson (“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2”) as Philip Haldiman DID seem a little too rehearsed, rather than performed. Still, it was all funny and most of the interpretations were well-tuned.
“The Disaster Artist” might not have the staying power, down the road, that “The Room” has had, but I think it would make a very good companion piece. Maybe a GOOD movie, based on the making of a BAD one should have its place, right next door. It will be intriguing to see what happens, in the future.
Director: James Franco
Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber
Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie as Amber, Ari Graynor as Juliette Danielle, Josh Hutcherson and Jacki Weaver as Carolyn Minnott
Release: December 1st, 2017