Director: James Franco
Nominated for: Best Adapted Screenplay
First off I have never seen The Room (2003, Tommy Wiseau) so I was thoroughly unprepared for what The Disaster Artist, which is a dramatisation of the making of The Room and Tommy and Greg’s relationship I guess. I’m not sure I can honestly describe what I’ve just watched as it’s left me a bit discombobulated really, but I’ll try to form some coherent thoughts on it. Also just to say that I watched The Disaster Artist at The Prince Charles Cinema (in Leicester Square) which was followed by either a special screening of The Room or another of Tommy and Greg’s movies so I actually managed to catch a glimpse of Tommy Wiseau himself and he really does look and talk the way James Franco portrayed him in the movie! It’s very odd.
I genuinely cannot tell you if the film was trying to be bad or if it just ended up being that way. This is really highlighted by the makeup and hair. I couldn’t tell if they were trying to be bad when filming the movie within the movie or if it just genuinely was bad. Josh Hutcherson’s hair and Dave Franco’s beard where truly atrocious. I also found the makeup used to turn James Franco into Tommy Wiseau quite jarring. At times it was excellent and you couldn’t see any of James Franco coming through but it sort of fluctuated throughout the film. This meant that there were times when you could see James Franco come through and that in turn highlighted the familial resemblance between him and Dave Franco who was playing Greg Sestero. I also found it slightly odd to cast your own brother in a film where the friendship between the two leads is somewhat questionable at times, even if it is one-sided. Or is it just that any film James Franco does seems to have a homoerotic undertone to it?
There are some recognisable names in this film – both in the weird conversation bit at the start, like Kirsten Bell, J.J. Abrams, and Kevin Smith – and in the actual film itself, obviously the Franco brothers, but also Seth Rogan, Josh Hutcherson, Megan Mullally, Jacki Weaver and Zac Efron (Zac is huge in this by the way – as in muscles not fat!). I can see why James Franco was beginning to rack up the nominations for Best Actor as he is pretty incredible in it and unrecognisable for a lot of it … it’s just a shame that the #MeToo sexual harassment movement has had some impact on his career given the current allegations against him. It takes a real skill to take something that you actually do well and do it badly and boy does he do this well – after all we all know the acting chops he has thanks to 127 Hours (2010, Danny Boyle)In fact everyone who acts in The Room segments of The Disaster Artist does an incredible job as there are some brilliant young talents being completely wooden and, frankly, terrible. It’s actually painful to watch at times the acting is that bad. And James Franco’s accent is incomprehensible at times which just adds to the essence of bad.
Dave Franco definitely deserves a mention too as, aside from the god-awful fake beard, he is the one lone sane voice that can ever get through to Tommy which results in a fair bit of pressure on him. He’s the kind of character that you latch onto in order to make some sense out of the craziness surrounding you. And nothing highlights the craziness so much as the premiere screening of The Room in The Disaster Artist which has the feeling of collective madness to it. The audience abandons all pretences of trying to take the film seriously and results in this maniacal outpouring of laughter.
I completely get why it has become a cult movie but I’m not sure that it would have the same impact on me now having watched The Disaster Artist first. I can’t help but draw a comparison to Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (1994) which is an homage to one of arguably the worst B-Movie directors in the history of film and that’s saying something because B-Movies weren’t that great to begin with … that’s part of the appeal of them … and this has the same sort of feel to it. Or at least it’s approaching a homage but I don’t know there is just a much more polished feel to Ed Wood than there is to The Disaster Artist – maybe it’s because Ed Wood was shot in black and white which makes it feel classier.
The scenes from The Room are pretty much shot for shot perfect – the pre-credit sequence puts them literally side by side and the likeness is outstanding. While I can’t tell you whether I enjoyed the film or not, as I’m still not entirely sure what I watched, I can tell you that it was definitely an experience that’s for sure.