Victoria Stuewe ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Movies Editor
Comedy is a difficult art to master. Not many in recent years succeeded in making films both meaningful and genuinely funny due to overplayed jokes or containing too many clichés. The Disaster Artist, however, was able to transcend these regularities and produce a film that is genuine and funny, but not too over-the-top as to render it ridiculous.
The film revolves around the friendship of Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and Greg Sestaro (Dave Franco) and the making of the infamously terrible film, The Room. The two meet in an acting class and eventually become close friends. One day, Tommy asks Greg to move to Los Angeles to get their big break. After many failed attempts, Tommy decides to write, direct, produce, and star in his own film, The Room, with Greg by his side.
With The Disaster Artist being about a movie that’s considered the worst of all time, it’s no wonder that it’s being billed as a comedy, and, luckily, it succeeds. There are many times throughout that it is hard to think that these events actually happened, which makes the film all the more hilarious. The screenwriting duo behind The Disaster Artist, Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber, known for their romantic comedies like (500) Days of Summer and The Spectacular Now, excelled in making seemingly effortless comedy from such a compelling subject matter. They especially reward those who enjoy The Room – or, at least, the spectacle of it – with the many inside jokes scattered throughout, yet also allow those who have not seen the infamous movie to be able to enjoy The Disaster Artist.
The cast actually recreated parts of The Room in shot-for-shot reenactments and showcased them side-by-side to original footage before the end credits. The resemblance was uncanny. Seeing the cast perform in this way was a delight to watch; one can tell the amount of effort put into the production of the film.
James Franco is utterly unrecognizable during the entirety of the film as Tommy Wiseau. It’s easy to see the amount of effort he put into making the character truly come to life; especially as he never falters in his execution, allowing him to go above and beyond a typical acting role. There’s no hesitation in identifying Franco as Wiseau, as every aspect of Franco disappears behind the long black hair and sunglasses.
While Franco did excel as an actor, it’s questionable as to whether his directing truly succeeded in the film. While it might be easy to identify a movie that belongs to Steven Spielberg or Guillermo del Toro or Alfred Hitchcock, it’s not easy to distinguish The Disaster Artist as being a James Franco film. Perhaps this is due to his method acting wherein he never broke character, even between takes. Though this doesn’t necessarily mean the directing was awful or choppy, Franco needs to develop his own voice and techniques before his directing can actually shine.
And yet, it is still clearly Franco’s film. Though his directing lacks, it’s fairly obvious how he was able to bring all of his friends – cameos of famous celebrities appear throughout the film – just to make a fun film about the worst movie ever made. It’s easy to tell how much fun the filmmakers had during the making of the movie, which, as an audience member, makes the film all the more enjoyable.
Though the making of The Room appears as the overall plot, the true crux of the film is the relationship between Greg and Tommy. It drives the film and allows the film to go deeper than just a run-of-the-mill comedy. James Franco does, admittedly, outperform his brother, Dave Franco, but the heart of it is still clearly present.
Despite being incredibly entertaining and meaningful, the film is just that. It’s not especially spectacular or even relatively new. This, however, might have been the best way to approach the already absurd true story. By keeping it simple, it’s easy to sit back and enjoy the ride, so to speak, rather than making it a “think piece” where all of the fun would be sucked out in order to portray a vague message. Instead, The Disaster Artist provides solid comedy that can satisfy even those who have not seen The Room.
Overall Grade: B+
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