The Franco Brothers Deliver With THE DISASTER ARTIST—by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural
West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 12/27/17 – The eccentric and enigmatic Tommy Wiseau wrote, directed, and starred in a 2003 vanity film called THE ROOM that some critics called the worst movie ever made. Actor/model Greg Sestero, one of THE ROOM’S stars, was savvy enough to capitalize upon the insane experience of co-creating the film by writing about it in partnership with magazine journalist Tom Bissell. When their book THE DISASTER ARTIST: MY LIFE INSIDE THE ROOM, THE GREATEST BAD MOVIE EVER MADE was released ten years later in 2013, many reviewers praised it and predicted that it would one day make a great movie.
In THE DISASTER ARTIST, co-directors and co-producers James and Dave Franco have given us that great movie with themselves in the starring roles of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. This film marks the famous brothers’ first collaboration. In TDA we watch how THE ROOM somehow made it to the screen despite Wiseau’s worst efforts and wound up as an interactive midnight cult classic along the lines of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.
Wiseau and Sestero met in San Francisco in 1998 and soon moved to Los Angeles to pursue their artistic careers. As portrayed by James Franco, Tommy Wiseau with his unidentifiable accent and origin and fascination for all things American is an over the top anti-hero.
Wiseau sinks $6 million from his seemingly endless supply of personal funds into a film inspired by THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY despite having no knowledge of filmmaking, as THE ROOM tragicomedically attests. But at least he realizes his dream to get noticed in Hollywood like his idols James Dean and Marlon Brando!
Under Wiseau’s erratic leadership, on-set relationships deteriorate to the great detriment of the film, soon dubbed “the CITIZEN KANE of bad movies.” Yet in the end THE ROOM ironically reaps many rewards for its oddball creator. Only in America!
THE DISASTER ARTIST has been circulating in theaters since December 1st. Warner Bros. will release TDA internationally, and it will also receive IMAX release in selected areas. To market the film, a billboard was mounted on Highland Avenue in Hollywood that replicates the original one for THE ROOM that Tommy Wiseau kept up from 2003 to 2008.
TDA keeps gaining accolades for its blackly humorous script and performances by both Franco brothers, especially James in the more villainous role of Tommy Wiseau. At the end of the film, scenes from THE ROOM are shown side by side with reenactments of the same scenes performed by the cast of THE DISASTER ARTIST and Tommy Wiseau appears in a cameo.
James Franco playing Tommy Wiseau seems destined to go down in film history as a semi-autonomous creation much like the fictitious band members from THIS IS SPINAL TAP. Here the long-haired Franco strongly resembles Johnny Depp, who was in fact Wiseau’s first choice for the role.
Taken as a whole, THE DISASTER ARTIST may leave certain loose ends untied. However, this reporter at least could not stop laughing every time James Franco appeared on screen, not quite knowing what he would say or do next. As far as she is concerned, Franco’s take on Tommy Wiseau is an absurdist tour de force worthy of worldwide attention.
Both THE DISASTER ARTIST and James Franco have been nominated for Golden Globe Awards that will be soon be given out on Sunday, January 7th, 2018. The skillfully-adapted screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber is also getting many critical nods.
Despite all the ins and outs attached to these many versions of their offbeat story, Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau have more “life as art” projects in the works. That in itself may have much to say about the transformative, even redemptive, powers of both film and friendship.