Sunday, December 24, 2017

The Disaster Artist review

In cinema there are movies that are so bad that they're good. If you have enjoyed any episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, you know what I mean. Of course, that means the movie is so bad that it's funny. In 2003, director, writer and "actor" Tommy Wiseau released his cinematic Frankenstein "The Room" on the American public. Good thing he rented a theater in Los Angeles. Because it got seen and enjoyed as bad cinema by critics and celebrities. The Disaster Artist is the story of Wiseau and the making of The Room.

The movie starts out in a San Francisco acting class where Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is attending. Student Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) butchers a scene from Tennessee Williams' A Streetcare Named Desire. It's so bizarre and over the top that it's funny. Wiseau doesn't realize this but it moves Greg to meet him after the class. They become friends and roommates. Eventually, they decide to move to Wiseau's apartment in Los Angeles to pursue their acting dreams. While Greg has good looks and some talent starts to get him work, Wiseau's lack of talent, Eastern European accent causes his career to grind to a halt. Frustrated with his progress, Wiseau writes a screenplay, and uses his money to make a movie called "The Room." He also will play the lead Johnny, an All-American type. He gets Greg to play Johnny's best friend, Mark.

Director James Franco's portrayal of Wiseau is brilliant. He get's Wiseau's Easter European speech rhythms just right. But we're not just talking about imitation here. His Wiseau is a misunderstood man-child with a big heart and big dreams. There's jealousy and affection that can be seen under a Spock like facade. Franco's comic timing makes the mundane and bizarre hilarious.

Based on the real life Greg Sestero's book "The Disaster Artist" with a screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist finds all the places where to depict comedy of the real life of Tommy Wiseau and the making of The Room. Director Franco knows how to stage the ridiculous and unafraid of  embarrassing himself. There's a scene where Franco lets us see him wearing a modesty pouch which looks ridiculous when you're naked and even more so when you are standing around and arguing about a scene.

The Disaster Artist is like another movie about the making of bad cinema, Ed Wood. (1994) That film explored the making of Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959) by a another disaster artist of cinema, Ed Wood. They both have similar themes. Guys with big dreams and no talent.   The difference between them is that Wiseau knows he's the butt of the joke where Wood passed away before his cinematic lunacy became "popular."  Wiseau makes a cameo in an end credit scene to The Disaster Artist thus acknowledging that The Room was a terrible movie that made people laugh.  I say to him he should feel good about making people happy.

The Disaster Artist
is a funny, heartfelt and yes, optimistic film.  It's also one of the best movies of the year.  The grade is A.

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