Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Disaster Artist

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Oh hai,movie review!

The Disaster Artist – 5 out of 5

A few years after I graduated college in 2009, RiffTrax released their riffs on a strange little movie I never heard of called The Room.  Being a HUGE fan of RiffTrax, I bought the mp3 and located a copy of this strange movie.  I wasn’t prepared for what unique majesty laid before me.  I witnessed an absolutely atrocious film with bad acting, a nonsensical story and completely inept filmmaking but there was this undeniable charm to it.  I was captivated by it and the strange man that was behind it; Tommy Wiseau.  The film would end up playing a big part in my life as I would watch it with friends all the time, quote it in conversations and I would impersonate Wiseau at the drop of a hat.  I even had the pleasure of performing in Milwaukee version of RiffTrax and MST3K call Stand-Up Cinema where we riffed on this one and performed sketches based on it.  The Room spoke to me beyond just my love of bad films but as an odd pop culture icon that proves to not just be a movie but an experience to behold.  So, needless to say, I have been waiting very anxiously for the dramedy biopic about the two friends behind it called The Disaster Artist and it was better than I anticipated.

If anything, this movie has resulted in me doing my Tommy Wiseau impression
even more.

Based on the novel of the same name, this movie tells the tale of a young aspiring actor named Greg (Dave Franco) who is living in the San Francisco area in the late 90s.  One day, at one of his acting classes, he meets an eccentric enigma of a man named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco).  The two form an unlikely friendship and decide to go to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune.  After success eludes them, they decide to make their own film called The Room.  Eventually, the stress of the film and a relationship that Greg finds himself in with a woman named Amber (Alison Brie) ends up taking a toll on the two and they start to drift apart.  However, the two are soon reunited and their bond rekindled as they accidentally make movie magic and cement themselves into pop culture status when their feature is released into the world.

Oh hai, scene where Johnny says "hai, doggy."

The Disaster Artist is a complicated feature that is all about some very unique and one-of-a-kind things.  The Room is the mother of all bad movies and has a very individualized cult status and Tommy Wiseau is from an entirely different plane of existence.  With the status Wiseau’s masterpiece holds, this movie could have easily turned into an hour and a half long gag that is just punching down and mocking the work.  However, the finish product proved to be so much more.  Instead, the movie is a loving tribute to both Greg and Tommy and is a tale that is honoring what they’ve done for the world of entertainment and pop culture.  In all honesty, this movie was a love letter to their work.

One of the things I loved the most about this film is how it is essentially a love story for Greg and Tommy.   The story takes us on a dramatized version of how they met and how their friendship was forged.  The tale never shies away from the things like how Tommy’s jealousy caused tension between them and the feature doesn’t sugar coat that neither man is really that talented but the way the film showed their drive and determination and how they had this very one-of-a-kind love for one another was incredibly endearing.  The film still has plenty of humorous moments and gives the fan of The Room a lot of moments to say “Oh hai” to but the strongest part, for me, was the drama and how everything unfolds.

It's easy to shit on The Room but I really wish I had half the drive and ambition
that Wiseau had.

You can’t talk about this film and not bring up the performances.  The film has a great cast of supporting players that range from the big names like Melanie Griffith and Sharon Stone to very talented comedic players like Megan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Bob Odenkirk, Nathan Fielder and Hannibal Buress.  Then you have the performers who felt tailor made to play counterparts to The Room’s cast like Zac Efron as Chris R (who just wants his money) and Josh Hutcherson as Denny or Danny or whatever his name is because it is said both ways in the original film.  There’s also a bunch of cameos from the likes of Judd Apatow, J.J. Abrams, Kevin Smith, Keegan-Michael Key, Danny McBride, Adam Scott and more.  There’s also Seth Rogen and Paul Scheer giving life to the crew behind the camera of The Room.  The point is there’s a lot of talent in this feature and they are all doing a fantastic job of bringing the story to life.  However, none are more important than the Franco boys.

None of them are looking at Lisa because she's so sexy.

First off, it’s cool to see Dave and James Franco sharing a movie together and, with having that, their natural chemistry as brothers is brought to the screen for Greg and Wiseau.  Both men do a really great job of bringing their real-life counterparts to life and really do an amazing job of making the characters sympathetic.  This last bit is a little difficult because it can be hard to separate art from the artist and, even though the Franco boys are playing fictionalized versions of Greg and Tommy, it’s hard not to think of both of them as Mark and Johnny, the wooden and weird dudes from The Room.  Both men really made each man fascinating to watch and helped make their journey all that more engaging.  Finally, James is doing a dynamite Tommy Wiseau impersonation.  It was so effortless to lose yourself in the story and to feel like you were watching the real Wiseau in action.

It's nice seeing family work together.

Any drawbacks I found in The Disaster Artist were superfluous at best.  For example, I didn’t care for the fake beard they had on Dave Franco.  It didn’t look real at all and, sadly, kinda looked like pubic hairs glued to his face.  Also, while I was impressed with how the story didn’t shy away from how Wiseau can be a bit of a terrible person, it failed at showing that same consideration with Greg.  As evident from the book itself as well as interviews with the man, Greg in real life can come off as equally petty and as shitty as Tommy Wiseau is.  The film sorta presented him as the level-headed one and sometimes as the victim.  However, neither of these complaints hurt the overall experience and the final product was still astounding.

Seriously, that pube beard was hard to look at on a giant screen.

For fans of The Room, The Disaster Artist illustrates a fun and dramatic insight to the oddity that is Tommy Wiseau and his unconventional friendship with Greg Sestero.  For those who have never heard of this wondrous exploration of bad filmmaking, The Disaster Artist is an exploration of how, no matter how much determination and drive a person has, a level of talent is still required but not necessary to make something memorable.  For everyone, The Disaster Artist is a loving tribute of a strange bit of pop culture that is one part love story and one part dramatic journey of ambition and incompetence.  It’s a beautiful and charming film about two men who aren’t these things and made something that is also not these things and yet somehow became just that.

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