James Franco has had dozens of credits as both director and actor. His directorial debuts have never been too stellar unlike his acting (debuts). He has proven his acting mettle in both comedy (THIS IS THE END, PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) and drama (SPRING BREAKERS). In his latest outing, he does both directing and acting in a comedic/dramatic portrayal of Hollywood filmmaker Tommy Wiseau. The odd film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival Midnight Madness section to a full house, the reason being that Franco and his gang showed up during the screening.
James Franco and friends appear in this uneven tribute to eccentric filmmaker Tommy Wiseau (played by James) and his friend, actor Greg Sestero (played by brother Dave), whose notoriously awful film The Room has become one of the most beloved cult classics of all time. (I have never heard of it though.) Since its release in 2003, The Room has captivated cult audiences on the midnight movie circuit with its discombobulated plot, discordant performances, and inexplicable dialogue. Drawing on the memoir of the same name, Franco chronicles the making of The Room as recalled by Greg. The incredulous script supervisor is played by friend Seth Roger. Other celebrity friends of the Franco’s like Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Zac Ephron also appear. Franco’s portrayal of Wiseau is over-the-top, which is likely the character of the man himself. Franco as Wiseau goes about the majority of the film speaking with an accent, shouting and speaking in broken English sentences.
Films about directors of Hollywood bombs have been done before, most notable being Tim Burton’s ED WOOD. But Franco’s DISASTER ARTIST bears more similarity to the 1970’s British/Italian comedy starring Peter Sellers as a mastermind Italian crook in Vittorio De Sica’s AFTER THE FOX. In both movies, there are separate scenes of the film shot, that bear no sense, but when put together during a screening at the end of the film, bring on major laughs. This is how best to describe Franco’s THE DISASTER ARTIST. It is a shallow biography of Tommy Wiseau providing no new insight of the man, but it does provide some solid laughs. The best scene is clearly the one where Wiseau does multiple takes on a segment, never getting it right until finally after uttering the line, “Oh, hi Mike” generate spontaneous applause from the director and those watching on set (and loud laughs from the audience).
The Franco/ Rogen/Goldberg troupe has an uncanny sense of humour, and the humour and timing works magnificently at times. The film ends with a split screen of the shots of the actual ROOM side-by-side of this movie.
A so-so movie but one can always forgive a mediocre movie if it delivers a few good laugh-out loud laughs!