Sitges 2017 Review: The Disaster Artist is a great film about the making of a terrible film

James Franco realizes Tommy Wiseau’s dream and makes The Room into an amazing film.

Confession time! I had not seen The Room until a month before seeing this film. I had watched it with a couple of friends, which is certainly better than watching it alone but not as fun as with a whole audience, I think. However, I wasn’t as into the film as the rest of the world. I laughed at the famous quotes but found it way too long to be entertaining.

I went into James Franco’s latest film hoping to see a funny and harmless comedy. Expecting to laugh my ass off at the re-enactment of the worst film ever made – to make fun of Franco’s portrayal of enigmatic and larger-than-life figure, Tommy Wiseau. I did not think a film about The Room could be sweet and emotional. But as The Disaster Artist proved, it’s not true. It’s bullshit. It’s not! Oh, hi Mark.

When the film starts, we meet Greg Sestero (Dave Franco). An aspiring actor who can’t catch a break until he meets an eccentric older guy with a strange accent, Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). Tommy is as bizarre as they come. He says he’s Greg’s age despite looking way older, swears his from New Orleans when his accent screams Eastern Europe and somehow has endless amounts of money.

James Franco deserves all the praise for his performance as the enigmatic, greater-than-life figure that is Tommy Wiseau. He nails both the lines and the ball-throwing skills.

Greg ends up moving to Los Angeles with his new best friend Tommy, where they meet the hard reality that millions of people have met in Hollywood – the town doesn’t care about your dreams, and it is damn hard to get your big break. Rest assured, the film’s story is well written and will not, for any reason bring up breast cancer and forget all about it.

This is where the film turns my expectations upside down. While there is enough comedy to make you laugh to tears, this is a very sweet and heartfelt film about friendship and following your dreams. The friendship aspect will come as no surprise for fans of Franco’s previous films with Seth Rogen, like Pineapple Express and This is the End. The relationship between Tommy and Greg is real, they care for each other then hate their guts – it shouldn’t be surprising that James and Dave Franco have great chemistry together.

It could have been really easy to be mean-spirited towards Tommy Wiseau’s most famous film, to make fun of it. The Disaster Artist could have been just a chicken, chip-chip-chip-chip-cheep-cheep. While the film never tries to argue Wiseau made a masterpiece, this is a film made by people who loved The Room.

Pretty much every available role in The Disaster Artist is played by a known celebrity. While fun at first, it gets really distracting.

It’s hard to think of a celebrity who doesn’t show up in The Disaster Artist. From Kevin Smith, Kristen Bell and even J.J. Abrams appearing as documentary-style talking heads discussing why The Room matters, to countless cameos of great comedic actors portraying the worst dramatic actors. There’s even a special treat for fans of the Greg Sestero episode of the podcast How Did This Get Made?. While it’s fun to play “guess the face”, it becomes distracting that every conceivable role in the film is played by A-list celebrities.

James Franco gives a performance worthy of an Oscar-nomination as Tommy Wiseau. Franco doesn’t just imitate Wiseau, but embodies him, and never treats the role as a joke. You can tell he’s having the time of his life when he’s throwing a football like no human being has even thrown a football, or talking like he has no concept of grammar – “Bring football” and “This real Hollywood movie”, or when doing the weirdest impression of a chicken.

But Tommy isn’t a clean-cut hero, and The Disaster Artist doesn’t shy away from portraying Tommy getting late to his own set, mistreating the crew, not wanting to pay for air-condition despite spending $6 million on the film, or screwing over his best friend’s career out of anger and jealousy.

Be sure to stay after the credits for a special cameo, as well as re-enactments of several scenes from The Room, which will make you wish Franco and company would make a shot-for-shot recreation of Wiseau’s film for the Blu-ray extra.

Whether you are an aspiring actor, director, painter, musician or writer, you can relate to Tommy Wiseau’s story. That’s why this film will touch the hearts of audiences everywhere. Beyond the funny lines and the story about the making of a bad film, The Disaster Artist argues that it’s worth it to pursue your dreams, no matter how crazy they may seem. Hi doggy!

Grade: Opening Night

How I rate films

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