Only a prolific actor/filmmaker like James Franco who races through a multitude of projects faster than the speed of light would have ever dreamt of making a movie like The Disaster Artist. Most of Franco’s cinematic ideas always look much better on paper than on the screen, and for someone who has more failures than successes, he is a remarkable survivor who never seems undeterred by his run of misses as he just plows on with the next slightly crazy off-ball idea/s.
Occasionally he scores a bullseye and The Disaster Artist may be one such time, but after viewing the movie twice now, we still maintain that the success and acclaim may be for all the wrong reasons.
It is the story of the making of a real movie from 2003 called The Room that was so atrociously bad that it actually became a cult hit. Based on a memoir of one of The Room’s stars Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) it relates how he met the eccentric Tommy Wiseau (Janes Franco) at an acting class where they were both as bad as each other, and they went on to become an odd couple of close friends.
The long-haired Wiseau with his hotchpotch of an accent was an enigma, and very wealthy one at that. After he met Sestero in San Francisco he persuaded the much younger man to up sticks and move to L.A. with him where they could both become famous actors. However, when they arrived down there they soon realized it was not going to happen because they were worse than average. This didn’t seem to faze Wiseau as much as the fact that Sestero now had a girlfriend in the shape of Amber (Alison Brie) which really caused Wiseau to have a jealous temper tantrum.
After another particularly bad audition Wiseau is convinced that is the material that is the problem and not him, so he decides to write his own which Sestero persuades him to make into a film. Where he gets the $6 mill. to bankroll the project is one of several total mysteries of the story that Franco has chosen not to even attempt to answer.
With this seemingly endless flow of funds, he very casually hires a whole team of filmmakers to make his movie and they are happy for the work even though it is very clear that their manic producer/star has absolutely no idea of what he is doing. Or a shred of talent too.
Somehow by something of a small miracle the film gets finished and Wiseau insists on having a full-scale Hollywood premiere. However, he is horrified when the theater erupts into derisive laughter which by the end of the screening has got quite hysterical. Sestero persuades to acknowledge the crowd who had simply believed that Wiseau had intended to make the film as an impossibly madcap comedy.
It is hard to fathom exactly what The Disaster Artist was trying to make of this very real outrageous story. As well as making no attempt to de-mystify Wiseau himself or The Room, it kept straddling a fine line between parody and mockery, and in the end, settled for trying to convince us how good Franco Snr is at playing eccentric characters.
As well as the Francos keep your eyes peeled for a whole coterie of stars playing cameos, some in very heavy disguises. including Sharon Stone, Jacqui Weaver, Josh Hutchinson, Zac Efron, Kevin Smith, Megan Mullally , Melanie Griffith and Seth Rogen.
Franco Jnr struggles to get noticed compared with his brother’s very showy larger-than-life performance which is probably a career best for him. Franco Snr made a mistake however by showing several clips of Wiseau himself as the final credits rolled, and you then realized what you had actually watched was him being a great impersonator who had copied all his best moves.