The Disaster Artist

 

starstarHalf



James Franco directs, produces and stars in an affectionate biography of a terrible director, producer and actor.

 
Disaster Artist, The

James Franco grapples with his lines

 

It's an odd thing, to make a film about a failure. In the case of terrible filmmakers, Tim Burton explored the phenomenon with his take on Ed Wood, who was voted Worst Director of All Time. But Ed Wood has some competition in the form of Tommy Wiseau, an enigmatic individual whose desire to become an actor set him on the path of financing and directing his own film, The Room, in which he starred. As incarnated by James Franco, who here resembles Daniel Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, Wiseau is an outlandish figure whose entire repertoire of Tennessee Williams involves screaming “Stella!” in public. He’s also unable to learn the simplest lines of dialogue, even when he’s penned them himself. And he’s a pathological liar. At one point he announces that he’s got a reading with Stanislavski, although most people know that Stanislavski died a while back (like, in 1938). And while Wiseau claims to have originated from New Orleans, his persistent omission of the definite article and misuse of plurals would suggest English was not his first language. It’s easy to laugh at such a character, if only because he invites it at every turn. But one does admire his chutzpah.

 

Tommy Wiseau would make a fascinating subject for a documentary, perhaps aided by genuine footage from The Room (2003) and a variety of incredulous talking heads. As a biographical feature, though, his story here is just not strong enough. A bit actor, Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), meets Tommy, a larger-than-life weirdo fuelled by optimism. Then he and Tommy become friends and Tommy sets about shooting The Room – to disastrous results. And that’s it.

 

As Wiseau, James Franco enjoys himself enormously and one could envisage his turn taking Saturday Night Live by storm. However, we have to live with this character for an entire movie – and it’s a one-trick pony. There’s solid support from Seth Rogen as Tommy’s long-suffering script editor and a slew of stars pop up in cameos (Bryan Cranston, Zac Efron, Melanie Griffith, Sharon Stone). But this is James Franco’s movie (he also directed and co-produced) and it does rather feel like a vanity project. And while the film boasts a number of laughs, it’s hard to warm to something that celebrates the ineptitude of a genuine idiot – even if that idiot actually endorsed Franco’s movie. For some people, fame is enough – and that is tragic.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Dave Franco, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, Megan Mullally, Hannibal Buress, Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Zac Efron, Bob Odenkirk, Zoey Deutch, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jason Mitchell, Randall Park, Bryan Cranston, Judd Apatow, Zach Braff, J.J. Abrams, Lizzy Caplan, Kristen Bell, Keegan-Michael Key, Adam Scott, Danny McBride, Dylan Minnette, Kate Upton, Angelyne, Kevin Smith, Ike Barinholtz, Tommy Wiseau.

 

Dir James Franco, Pro James Franco, Vince Jolivette, Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and James Weaver, Screenplay Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, Ph Brandon Trost, Pro Des Chris L. Spellman, Ed Stacey Schroeder, Music Dave Porter, Costumes Brenda Abbandandolo.

 

New Line Cinema/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Good Universe/Point Grey Pictures/Rabbit Bandini Productions/Ramona Films-Warner Brothers.

103 mins. USA. 2017. Rel: 6 December 2017. Cert. 15.