The Disaster Artist
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Get the two-time Golden Globe®-nominated (BEST PICTURE, BEST ACTOR) hysterical comedy based on ''The Greatest Bad Movie of All Time'' (THE ROOM).
Laugh-Out-Loud Audio Commentary with Director/Actor James Franco, Actor Dave Franco, Actor Tommy Wiseau, Actor Greg Sestero, and More
Oh, Hi Mark!: Making a Disaster Featurette
Directing a Disaster Featurette
Just a Guy Leaning on a Wall: Getting to Know Tommy Featurette
Theatrical Trailer --Lionsgate
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I'll be clear on my points: The Disaster Artist is Greg's side of the story, warts and all. He's both thankful for how Tommy changed his life and repulsed/intrigued by the man and vision. He sees the movie for what it truly is, and embraces it honestly. That said: Tommy Wiseau said he agrees with the book 40 percent. By contrast: Tommy says he approves of the The Disaster Artist film 99 percent and when delving into that 1 percent, it was realized he took off his sunglasses late while watching it and loved it from then on. So, Tommy basically gives this his 100 percent blessing. What does this mean for the movie and what can you expect? This isn't going to be Greg's story and if some details of his story make it in, they will be treated in a mundane fashion so that Tommy can be at center stage the entire time. On a side note: any critic who states this film captured the spirit of the book loses all credibility for the reason stated above.
Tommy will be seen as the visionary and sole author of its creation: The writer/producer/director/star of his movie even though he was so incompetent and busy starring that he couldn't direct it which is ridiculous when you consider he had a difficult enough time mustering out the horrible performance he does in the finished film. He couldn't remember lines constantly, lines that he wrote for himself. He had trouble with the simplest of blocking instructions and a shoot that could've taken 3 weeks, took over a month. If you've read the book, you know the other elephant in the room (nothing witty intended) which is that script supervisor, Sandy Schklair actually directed the movie. Sandy's coming out with his own book now and I'd love to read it when it does. Listen to Sandy's interview on youtube and remember that he and Raphael were the two members of the crew with legit production experience having worked in the industry for years. Also, the dialogue was constantly being tweaked by him as pages of script came in. The book addresses this issue: Tommy wrote it the way he speaks, and he doesn't make sense a lot of the time. Now, the movie still doesn't make sense, but it resembles natural dialogue a lot more closely now that Sandy worked on it, said "action! and "Cut!" made shot selections and instructed the actors on what to do with their performances and blocking. This is Directing work and when you're doing all of it you generally get a sole director credit. I realize this happens in the industry all the time under professionally arranged circumstances. Tommy's movie wasn't professional at all, so I understand why Sandy is seeking his credit. Tommy will deny this to his grave, but it's true and hidden in plain view for anyone to see in the book. It's also suggested in Disaster Artist film, but they don't raise the issue and get numerous other factual issues wrong about the production.
So basically, the larger story of the book is thrown out of the movie for some of the more humorous bits from shooting. The problem with this is that The Disaster Artist is the more compelling and lasting piece of art by a long shot (compared to the Room). For a script based on the book to leave these things out would make it far less than either piece that came before. Yes, the bare bones plot about the two unlikely misfits befriending each other and then making a cult classic monstrosity is still in the movie. The problem is the writers believed this makes the movie universal without Greg's perspective looming over it and they're right. This story isn't isn't a universal one, it's one of those stranger than fiction ones and I'm not sure why they would want to streamline it, let alone streamline it badly.
The real truth behind the production of The Room is a tale of a pressure cooker of frustration with misplaced ambition, incompetence, and abuse tempered by levity. Don't let certain personalities involved with the film fool you, everyone except Tommy knew the movie they were making was a bad one. The actors knew it and the crew most definitely knew it. The owner and staff at Birns and Sawyer most definitely knew this and it lead to mutiny when Tommy would feel slighted, something left out of the movie. Tommy must be relieved that people actually enjoy seeing his over priced piece of trash-treasure that people like for a completely different reason than he intended. Undoubtedly, he doesn't like the fact that people laugh through it as soon as he comes on screen. You don't get this uncomfortable tension when watching the film because Tommy doesn't want you to see a realistic depiction of what this production was like. You also don't get the consistently lighter side due to his overall ineptitude, which might've become redundant, but no less funny. I can tell you there are stories in the book that would be easily translated to screen and they're not in the movie. I'm not sure why they didn't just get Bissell (TDA co-writer) to edit it into a script as he has experience doing this. I guess they wanted to employ their friends.
All of this ignores the fact this film is competently made and has a decent cast. The reason I ignore this is because neither of these things makes the film more entertaining. I don't think they should pat themselves on the back that they nailed certain scenes compared to the original. They can never be the original and it just points to the fact that they made a fan film instead of a careful translation of the book which could've been a masterpiece in someone else's hands. Yes, I find it weird that something related to the room could have a legitimate masterpiece label attached to it, but the book had the material in it to do it. It's extremely disappointing, but I'm happy for Greg and Tommy as undoubtedly they'll both be making a good deal of money because of this.
About Franco's performance, he's not that good. We know Franco's the director and star so he should be on top of the character, but it just seems like a mimicry of the actual guy and not a strong performance. The main reason his performance suffers is because he didn't make a movie that balanced the performances. The movie is solely about Tommy Wiseau. Yes, the title is "The Disaster Artist" and refers to him. The book isn't only about him and his persona isn't strong enough to hold up a feature film. It's much more interesting for him to be a character the film observes in the center of making "The Room" as opposed to him being the center of the whole movie. This is a very significant difference. The screenwriter's didn't even have to stick with Greg as the narrator to have a fly on the wall perspective. Tommy is incoherent, so we can't follow his perspective as a protagonist. Since the Disaster Artist film is solely concerned with Tommy's behavior without directly commenting on the overall reality of the working situation, everything else suffers. It could've treated the process like a dysfunctional family and considered what each person brought to the dynamic, but Tommy is treated like the only one who matters in the film, when the reality was the exact opposite.
If it was only up to Tommy, none of this would exist. He would've never finished the film because he had no idea what he was doing. The book wouldn't have come to fruition. Don't get me wrong, Tommy is significant in the vision prior to creating the film and he's a part of the film, , however it's a miracle The Room was finished due to his incompetence. It was finished due to a lot of hard work by people I don't think Tommy wants to acknowledge, people Tommy fired, or quit due to his inability, or refusal to uphold his production responsibilities. That's unfortunate, because that factor alone could be what made this movie mediocre.
There's only superficial conflict in this film and if it was more than a fan-film it would've dedicated time to legitimate things that have actually happened. Once again, the book has the stuff of masterpieces: complicated friendships, ambiguous alliances, harsh truths, back story, and the most creepily humorous tie in to "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Prior to writing "The Room" Tommy would often go out with Greg to see movies and...let's just say Tommy isn't a movie guy. He gets bored easily, or flat out falls asleep mid screening. Greg meets with a friend who's a film editor and they see Ripley. Immediately following, the friend tells him he sees Tom Ripley's jealous tendencies in Tommy Wiseau (he also doesn't like Tommy). Shortly after this Tommy and Greg are at the movies again and Tommy insists on seeing Ripley. Instead of boredom, or sleep, Tommy is rapt with attention and then starts writing his magnum opus. As depicted in the movie, it's like he knocked out the whole idea in a frenzy. I can guarantee you, it didn't go down like that. Once again, a hilarious and crucial point in the book that could've been fleshed out if this was truly in the spirit of the book, but it's not about that for whatever reason.
I understand that adaptations can't be direct copies of books for various reasons in many cases. This is no different, but I have a problem with the changes when they take out the things that make the book worth adapting in the first place. Greg's perspective gives us a unique place to try and understand Tommy. He's someone who actually likes him and tolerates him better than almost anyone. From this person, the sense of frustration and loyalty are earnest. These are totally missing from the film and it's a combination of the director and writer(s) faults. They didn't place the emphasis on it enough, or at all. Beyond that, the film could've been much wilder in it's execution. Franco's framing of the character emphasizes the eccentricity through the perspective of a New York City street cynic (I've seen it all) and doesn't frame him in the way that most people would. The book opens with a story of Tommy wearing an outfit to a restaurant that turned the vapid heads and curious eyes of savvy scenesters in Hollywood. He does wear ridiculous clothing, but the film is visually matter of fact about this.
To sum up my issue with the film: Franco shouldn't have directed it and the writers they got shouldn't have even been considered. They don't really understand what makes the book great while possibly enjoying "The Room" and get lost in the cult of personality. Either a combination of factors reduced the visual impact of the way this story was told, or it all comes down to James' bad choices as director. I don't really have a problem with him starring in this as Tommy, but it seems like he immersed himself into the role in a way that affected his directing. The best way for this story to be told on screen would be from a director who has a bit of distance and still has appreciation for the crazy work these people produced back in 2003. Most importantly, he would have to know what makes the story interesting in the first place and why the book resonates so much. He needn't read it to understand this, but he'd have to understand. As it is, the movie performs like a rush job treatment. It's a rush job produced by talented people, but I was always aware it could be much better. I can't even say this is a good movie. It begins and ends with fractured and pointless presentations. The beginning features celebrities talking about how much they love the film (this isn't a documentary, or a post modern media exercise) and then ending prematurely presents the film being a comedy success right out of the gate from the premier. That's not what happened and I think the audience who doesn't know that would gather that from just how sloppy it comes off.
Tommy meets Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) at an acting class after Tommy’s unconventional interpretation of a monologue from “A Streetcar Named Desire” leaves the class agape. Impressed with Tommy’s lack of inhibition, shy Greg befriends him and they share their dreams of making it in Hollywood. Tommy has an apartment in Los Angeles and Greg accepts his invitation to join him there. But their auditions fail to land them paying jobs, so Tommy suggests that they make their own movie. Tommy will write and star in it, and finance it, and Greg will have a large part.
So begins the making of the movie called “The Room.” Though both men are totally ignorant of the moviemaking process, they nonetheless buy equipment, hire a cast and crew, and begin production. With frequent delays, on-set arguments and rising costs, the project forges onward.
Franco, who also directs, could easily have crafted a broad comedy with Wiseau as a complete clown. But instead, we see him as a man who believes in himself. The relationship between Tommy and Greg is the heart of the movie. Greg is inspired by Tommy’s fearlessness in an industry where few newcomers succeed. As the film is being shot, Greg recognizes that many of his friend’s decisions are wrongheaded or even destructive, yet still tries to remain supportive.
Dave Franco, James’ younger brother, initially plays Greg with wide-eyed enthusiasm, practically hypnotized by Tommy’s weirdness, drive, and optimism. Tommy’s self-assurance seems to be the perfect antidote to Greg’s insecurity. This odd couple navigate the world of independent filmmaking with many comic bumps in the road and setbacks, fueled by Tommy’s complete belief in a project with continuity problems, artificial dialogue, and a crew on the verge of mutiny.
Franco’s performance may seem strange, but that’s precisely the point. He’s playing a man unlike any other — a true original. Eccentric, mysterious, prone to tantrums, and easily hurt by those in his inner circle, Tommy is the antithesis of a Steven Spielberg — unfocused, late to the set, changing the script on a whim, and having sets built when real locations are readily available. Had he been bankrolled by a studio, he would have been fired the first day, but with seemingly limitless funds, he keeps on well over the planned 40-day shoot.
Movies about the making of movies can be interesting, since they show us what we’re not supposed to see. As a “What Not to Do” primer on film production, “The Disaster Artist” is very funny. We see Tommy go through endless re-takes involving only a few lines of dialogue, an awkwardly staged sex scene, a scene that has no significance to the rest of the film, and a suicide in which the actor writhes on the floor in pain after shooting himself in the head.
At the end of the film, actual brief scenes from “The Room” appear on a split screen next to the same recreated scenes in “The Disaster Artist.” The latter are uncannily perfect in terms of camera angle, costuming, and dialogue delivery.
“The Disaster Artist” is rated R for language and some nudity.
Bonus materials on the 2-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack include a gag reel; audio commentary by James Franco, Dave Franco, Tommy Wiseau, and Greg Sistero; the featurettes “Oh, Hi Mark!: Making a Disaster,” “Directing a Disaster,” and “Just a Guy Leaning on a Wall: Getting to Know Tommy;” and a theatrical trailer. A digital copy is enclosed.