Release: 9th April 2018
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Based on Greg Sestero’s best-selling tell-all about the making of Tommy’s cult-classic disasterpiece The Room (“The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made”), The Disaster Artist is a hilarious and welcome reminder that there is more than one way to become a legend – and no limit to what you can achieve when you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
When the day comes that Tommy Wiseau passes from this world – assuming that contrary to popular belief he is not some form of immortal vampiric hell beast – he will long be remembered as the architect of one of cinema’s most bafflingly awful cult classics; The Room. It is easy to make a bad film, (see Eli Roth), but it is something altogether miraculous to make a film so damn bad that it transcends disappointment and apathy to become outrageous and, dare we say, entertaining. James Franco not only rides this joyous wave of ostentatious lunacy as both director and star of The Disaster Artist, but flourishes because of it.
The elephant in the room is that The Disaster Artist was a hot contender this awards season but suffered a huge blow following Franco’s Golden Globe win; a result of accusations levied against him of harassment and sexual impropriety. The extent of Franco’s purported behavior is content for a wider and much more serious conversation, but the fact remains that The Disaster Artist can still be enjoyed as a hilarious masterclass in Independent filmmaking. Also, ironically, one of the film’s more dramatic and pertinent scenes comes at the hands of Franco, in character as Wiseau, embarrassing and taunting a naked co-star in preparation for the infamous sex scene. Life imitating art imitating life posing as art in the pursuit of…whatever a hairy arse crack constitutes.
The Disaster Artist, like it’s subject, is truly an odd duck. It is paced like jazz, and flits between embracing its period setting then abandoning it in favour of timeless vignettes. It is an ode to the “best worst film ever made”, yet you get a distinct feeling that everything about the production is ramped up to pinpoint the atrocious quality of The Room. All the fan favourites are here, as Franco goes to great lengths to re-create scenes such as “anything for my princess.”, “you’re my favourite customer”, “cheep cheep”, and of course “Oh, Hi Mark”. But the film is more than cult wish fulfilment on the part of its lunatic director (Franco and Wiseau both standing), as at its heart this a story about friendship and brotherhood. It is a film about following your dreams, and ‘doing you’. For all of its sniggering glances at the maniacal Wiseau or wide-eyed sap Greg Sestero, The Disaster Artist, like Apple’s 90’s ad campaign, is a respectful hat tip to the crazy ones.
Franco’s performance is a little too robust as first, but his commitment to the role and the imposing oddity of Wiseau’s world means we can quickly buy in to this enigma of a man. There are moments of natural comedy that arise from circumstance and truth (most coming from the set of The Room), while others feel more forced (the auditions). Then there are the ‘Franco / Rogen’-style moments. The ones that feel alien to the setting of Wiseau but come all the same, and land gloriously (see Wiseau’s audition, for goodness know what). Whether you are laughing at Wiseau’s cadence, or cringing at everything else, Franco and company make sure that you have a great ride.
It is not a perfect film by any means, but The Disaster Artist is like a mature relative to Pineapple Express and The Interview. Oddly enough, the person who will reap the lion’s share of rewards from this film is Wiseau himself, who through the grace of this modern wonder, comes off as a fearless superhero. The Disaster Artist is most definitely a film of its time. In a world of memes, internet celebrity and social media trends; Tommy Wiseau is without a doubt the new Nicholas Cage. (insert baseless laugh).
Film Grade: B+
Some half decent Making Ofs and a brief Gag Reel pad out a blu-ray that finds its feet with a brilliant Commentary track. Wiseau talking is just solid gold every time. The things that is missing is an accompanying copy of The Room itself. Now that would have been an amazing 2-disc edition!
Special Features Grade: C+
You’ll laugh. You’ll gasp. You’ll be saying “Hi Doggy” to every mutt you see hence forth. You’ll also wish that you had a copy of The Room to watch as a follow up.