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‘The Disaster Artist’ (review by Leyla Mikkelsen)

Produced by James Franco, Vince Jolivette,
Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, James Weaver
Screenplay by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber
Based on The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside
The Room, the Greatest Bad Film Ever Made
by Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell

Directed by James Franco
Starring James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen,
Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson,
Jacki Weaver, Zac Efron, Hannibal Buress


Anyone who has ever witnessed The Room – which by many has deservedly been called the best worst movie ever made – can attest to how the weirdness of the film does not merely boil down to incompetent filmmaking, but also to its paradoxically significant amount of entertainment value, the presence of which is as enigmatic as the film’s mastermind Tommy Wiseau.

Very few definitive details are known about Wiseau, which makes for meeting the man in person as odd an experience as witnessing his work.

With the cult following the film has gained, the opportunity to meet Wiseau and his friend and co-star Greg Sestero presents itself rather often, as they continue to travel the world to meet and greet fans at midnight screenings where laughter, heckling and plastic spoons fill the air. As such, it was therefore understandable that Sestero eventually decided to write about his experiences with Wiseau, The Room and the madness that ensued. The result was the insightful and entertaining The Disaster Artist, which was eventually picked up by James Franco to adapt for the big screen, and here we are!

With the seemingly endless number of projects he is constantly involved in, James Franco has a very prolific career to say the least. Never settling for just one genre or archetype, the wide variety of characters he has portrayed is impressive, and while not all of the films he has been involved with have been critically acclaimed successes, the elder Franco brother has proven time and time again that he is one of the most remarkable talents of his generation. Comparatively, while younger brother Dave Franco has yet to become a household name, he has still managed to build a solid career without riding the coattails of his brother.

Some probably still suspect that Dave Franco has been given a lead role in his brother’s latest directorial project as a family favor, but his performance quickly puts such misconceptions to shame. Not only does he sell the character of Greg as a naïve, young man who makes some hilariously questionable choices, he also manages to maintain the likable and relatable qualities necessary to enable the audience to invest in the character. His performance also helps to further ground James Franco’s portrayal of Tommy, which is already a supremely balanced performance in its own right; considering the eccentric essence that saturates Tommy’s existence, portraying him as an absurd caricature to ridicule him would be all too easy. Fortunately, the Tommy that James Franco presents the viewer with perfectly conveys an utterly strange individual without losing any of his humanity, ensuring that anyone who has experienced Tommy in any capacity can buy into the illusion Franco’s performance is selling, all the while also enabling them to invest in Tommy’s dreams and feelings on a more general, human level.

The narrative structure further emphasizes the human themes of The Disaster Artist, again avoiding becoming a cheap mockery of the shortcomings of two people who may be lacking in talent, but are brimming with ambition. As such, the film is therefore a heartfelt and humorous story about friendship rather than a parody of a disastrous film production, which brought its main men a different kind of fame than they had originally hoped.

The setting of the more modest side of late 1990s and early 2000s San Francisco and Los Angeles is a somewhat stark, but realistic contrast to the glitz and glamour Tommy and Greg are seeking. Here, their relationship and their struggles are allowed to build and intensify at a satisfying pace that keeps the viewer engaged from start to finish. Once we get down to the shooting of The Room, everything is meticulously recreated, all the way down to the terrible lighting utilized on the set of Tommy’s disasterpiece. The amount of time allocated to the recreation of what happened on the set of The Room ensures that this part of the film is a genuinely comical centerpiece that neither outstays its welcome nor outshines the rest of the story.

With a truly remarkable central performance from James Franco and copious amounts of heart and wit, The Disaster Artist is a sincere combination of comedy and drama that serves to tell the story of the absurd trials and tribulations of the creators of the best worst movie of all time. Thanks to the tremendous amount of warmth and humanity, The Disaster Artist is as a result endearing without being sentimental and hilarious without being cruel, making James Franco very worthy of the awards he has already started raking in for this one.

Verdict: 10 out of 10.

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