If film had an odor, the cult following behind The Room has ironic hipster stench all over it. To be frank the fervor and excitement surrounding it has eluded me for the better part of a decade now, I could barely endure the seemingly endless experience of attempting to watch it for the first time. All of the things people love about it are the things I avoid, this cringe culture of laughing at others never connected with me. Do I like bad movies? Absolutely, I’m a child of the 90s who still has a Blockbuster card in his wallet as a memento for all of the times I grabbed a movie off the shelf just based off of the cover art.
Films like Troll 2 have a warm spot in my film loving soul; it is filled with magical moments of lightning in a bottle. The Room has an air of manufactured infamy. Back around 2006 or 2007 it felt like every rising comedian in Hollywood was talking about it like the picture was some type of short hand for an inside joke. That it was *so bad* you had to see it to believe it, reciting lines and chuckling along in their small groups. Wiseau’s project isn’t bad, it’s boring. There’s a difference.
On top of that, I can’t exactly say the weird Gonzo side of James Franco emerging over time has done much for me either. He hasn’t seemed to do much in the way of challenging work on screen since 127 Hours but I’d be lying if I said his choices over the past decade haven’t been at the very least interesting to follow. So you can imagine how shocked I am at how much I enjoyed this boarderline Hollywood circlejerk vanity project.
There isn’t a whole lot to say for the plot beyond the basic premise of it being based on a true story of two guys from San Francisco (Or New Orleans, by way of Transylvania…) that cross paths at an acting class. Greg (Dave Franco) is a meek and timid guy with a pretty face and aspirations towards fame due to a love for Home Alone, who is suddenly awestruck by the primal energy presented on storage by a walking enigma who goes by the name Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). The two hit it off and before you know it they’re off to LA to chase the Hollywood dream, as things don’t go the way they planned certain sides of Tommy become revealed when he takes it into his own hands to force that dream into reality by writing, producing, directing, and starring in his own feature film with Greg. Pinky promises are made, footballs are tossed around.
As the eccentric actor does his best to inhabit an even more eccentric force of nature by the name of Tommy Weisau, Franco somehow turns a larger than life caricature into a compelling study that manages to be faithful to the mystery that surrounds the subject. I lost count of how frequently I would be taken away by his performance in The Disaster Artist, left even more captivated when I would occasionally stop to realize he’s also the vision behind the lens on the feature. Franco’s passion and admiration for this film that I can’t stand or figure out for the life of me manages to be so apparent on the screen that he managed to make me lean in and want to hear the story that resonated so deeply with him.
And he pulls it off.
The Disaster Artist isn’t Earth shattering cinema, and there are bits that can be picked apart, like the choice of bookending the film with celebrity confessionals and side-by-side comparisons. One could also argue that Dave Franco can’t quite hold his own on screen when James is constantly lapping him and stealing the show. But it’s all minor, the feature zooms past before you know it, with notably fun roles for Seth Rogan, Paul Sheer, and Zac Efron. Recommended.
Tags: Dave Franco, James Franco, Paul Scheer, Seth Rogan, The Disaster Artist, The Room, tommy wiseau