Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor
Director: James Franco
Running Time: 104 mins
The Disaster Artist is an American film about the true story of friends Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau, two aspiring actors who moved to Los Angeles and set about making their own movie: The Room.
If you’ve seen or heard of The Room, you’re likely aware that it wasn’t the smoothest shooting process. However, The Disaster Artist not only offers a fascinating insight into the months spent filming the now legendary movie, but it also offers up a riveting and uplifting story of two men following their dreams, complete with excellent performances and a generally heartfelt atmosphere, making for a great watch throughout.
Going into this movie, I expected it to be all about how awful the process of making The Room was, and how Tommy Wiseau’s arrogant ambition caused it to be such a disaster. However, what I loved most about The Disaster Artist was how it completely changed my opinion on the story behind The Room, deeply humanising Wiseau and Sestero, and as such made for a riveting watch.
Yes, there are moments where the film pokes fun at Wiseau’s failings in making his movie, however that’s not the main story here. Instead, it’s a very uplifting tale of two friends who overcome the odds and follow their dream, no matter how unlikely, and it’s that side of the story that makes it so fascinating to watch, simply as a character piece on Wiseau and Sestero.
In that, it seems to me as if you don’t need to have seen The Room to understand and be intrigued by this movie. Although fans of the movie may appreciate a lot more of the in-jokes throughout, The Disaster Artist works best as its own drama, complete with a very strong dramatic screenplay and an excellent lead performance from James Franco.
When it comes to James Franco’s performance as Tommy Wiseau, it’s not just impressive because he gets Wiseau’s distinct mannerisms so spot on. Instead, Franco gives a performance that’s full of depth and genuine emotion, and he manages to make you really empathise with Wiseau as he strives to achieve his dream against all logical odds, which is what gives this film so much heart and emotional intrigue too.
In the end, while The Room remains an objectively terrible movie, The Disaster Artist is a film that shows you that the people who made it came from a good place, and made the movie with ambition and drive, something that’s really uplifting and often even moving to see.
So, this film works really well as a biographical drama, while also impressing when it comes to real emotional power too. However, that doesn’t mean it’s completely flawless, as it often struggles to balance its comedic side with its excellent drama.
I would have been perfectly happy to watch The Disaster Artist as if it were a drama and nothing more, but the problem is that the film thinks it’s a little funnier than it actually is (ironically the exact opposite problem to The Room itself). As a result, I didn’t find myself laughing all that much, as not much of the original comedy lands as strongly, and the rest is generally in-jokes relating to The Room, while the clash with how simply riveting the drama is also made for an occasionally frustrating and slightly uneven watch.
Overall, however, I was very impressed by The Disaster Artist. As someone who previously had absolutely no respect for The Room, I was really surprised by how this true story humanised Tommy Wiseau’s journey to unlikely stardom, thanks to an emotionally riveting and impressively dramatic screenplay, added to by an excellent central performance, and although its comedy doesn’t quite match up to its dramatic side, The Disaster Artist is undoubtedly an uplifting, heartfelt and riveting character piece, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.7.