Crazy James Franco is the best James Franco. The Interview, Spring Breakers, 127 Hours and This is the End all benefited from a less-than-normal Franco performance. Considering his prolific output, it makes sense that the actor would want to let loose on occasion. The Disaster Artist, Franco’s latest acting and directing effort, is one of his looniest outings yet.
Based on The Disaster Artist, which chronicles the making of the 2003 cult favorite The Room, the film features Franco as Tommy Wiseau, the eccentric, European, vampire-looking director/star at the center of The Room. With his long, black hair, funny accent and broken English, Wiseau is a character unto himself.
The Disaster Artist opens with testimonials – that come across as scripted – from actors like Kristen Bell and Adam Scott that make The Room seem like this one-of-a-kind experience that is not to be missed. The book, written by Room star and friend of Wiseau Greg Sistero (along with Tom Bissell), is an entertaining tome about best intentions, rampant egos and the creative process, but watching The Disaster Artist doesn’t feel like we’re being let in on something truly special. With a cast that includes Franco’s brother Dave as Greg, BFF Seth Rogen and Dave’s wife Alison Brie, The Disaster Artist feels more like something a bunch of friends decided to make in honor of this one specific moment in time than a film that needed to be made.
Not that that’s a bad thing.
Franco is fantastic as Wiseau, using prosthetic make-up, contacts, and a wild wig to disappear into the cult filmmaker’s persona. Franco is so good, there’s a post-credit stinger where his fictional Wiseau goes up against the real-life Wiseau, and the result is a resounding draw. Don’t be surprised if Franco racks up some awards consideration for his work.
The Disaster Artist isn’t for everyone. Wiseau is weird. Franco playing Wiseau is weirder. Those unfamiliar with The Room probably don’t care that there’s movie and a book about that film.
The Room is one of those bad movies that should’ve died a quick and painless death, gone from the movie-going lexicon as fast as it came. Instead, it became a cult sensation. One of those “so bad it’s good” kind of films that live on in midnight showings, like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Did it deserve its own “making of” film? Probably not, but The Disaster Artist still stands as an entertaining look at the million-and-one things that can go wrong on a movie set.