Following fast on the heels of Suburbicon, The Disaster Artist is another 2017 movie I could easily have overlooked, had it not been for a typewriter sequence in the movie’s trailer.
The Disaster Artist is an adaptation of Greg Sestero’s novel of the same name, and documents the making of what is probably the greatest “bad” movie of all time. James Franco stars (and directs himself, his brother Dave, and others) as Tommy Wiseau — the star, director, writer, producer and sole financier of the 2003 love-triangle melodrama: The Room.
The story of the making of The Room is told through the eyes of Greg (Dave Franco), a naive 18 year-old actor who meets Tommy in an acting class and sees him as a role model, even though they’re both terrible actors. Tommy takes young Greg under his wing and whisks him away to Los Angeles with the intent (rather than the hope) of them “making it big” in Hollywood.
“It’s not going to happen for you. Not in a million years.”
“But after that?”
Tommy’s never-say-die attitude and (deluded) faith in himself are sorely tested after numerous failed auditions and rejections. On the brink of giving up, a half-serious suggestion from Greg that, if no-one will hire them, they make a movie of their own, restores Tommy’s self-belief and he sets to work on the script …
The typewriter casting is perfect, as we see a manic Tommy slurping noodles and two-finger typing …
… at one stage writhing around on a settee with a plugged-in Vonnegut-style (Smith-Corona Coronamatic) typewriter on his lap.
Once on set, the script supervisor, the director of photography, set designer, costume designer, etc., all quickly figure out that Tommy has absolutely no idea what he’s doing; but since its also apparent he has unlimited funds with which to bankroll the movie, they persevere.
A financial flop at the time of its release, The Room is now an unintentionally-comedic cult classic. During organised screenings, the audience are invited, even encouraged, to yell and throw things at the screen, dress up in tuxedos and kick around a football.
This audience-mania, which first manifest itself during The Room’s initial theatre release in 2003, serves as the finale of The Disaster Artist, and is infectiously funny to watch.
This movie will be loved by The Room fans, but will also be appreciated by those, like me, who were not in on the joke. I enjoyed this movie without ever having high expectations. It was, after-all, a movie about the making of a “bad” movie.
The large cinema I watched it in was empty except for a handful of people, which seemed entirely appropriate. Not a great movie, but not a disaster for James Franco’s career either, not by any means.