If you’ve been on the internet for a while, chances are you’ve heard of cult classic ‘The Room’ from 2003. Widely regarded as the Best-Worst movie ever made. Tommy Wiseau’s seminal tale of love and betrayal, unfortunately hindered by the fact that it’s pretty terrible, has made a name for itself, being so terribly made and acted, that people can’t help but love it.
Now a cult hit for all those in the know, at first a poster-child for any film that is so bad, you can laugh your way through it, but now, people are starting to adore it for other reasons too, and that is where James Franco’s ‘The Disaster Artist’ comes in. Adapting the biographic of ‘The Room’ star Greg Sestero of the same name, this film details the road up to making the film, the trials and tribulations that came with it, and a whole new heart to the film, people just never really regarded before.
On a personal level, I was very much aware of the film, but having seen so many online clips and reviews, I think I thought I had already seen it. But I was wrong. So the day before ‘The Disaster Artist’ came out, we sat down to watch it, myself for the first time, and oh boy, was it a treat.
Let’s start with ‘The Room’.
The Room (2003)
Directed by Tommy Wiseau, which stars him as the main character Jonny, is the infamous, eponemous tale, which revolves around a love triangle that grows between him, his fiancé, Lisa (Juliette Danielle) and Greg Sestero as Mark, Jonny’s best friend and lover of Lisa. And a whole host of other characters with side plots that last literally one scene (We’ll get to that in a minute though).
So, fourteen years after it’s release, a huge amount of unconscious notoriety and alot of franchise milking, we must ask the question; Is it as bad as everyone says.
Hahahahaha. If anyone did ask that, they obviously had never seen the film yet, oh boy. But no, it isn’t.
It’s so much worse.
The film begins with a multitude of long, boring shots, that open with scenic shots of San Francisco, to Jonny getting off of a bus. After about five minutes of that, we are treated to the beginning of the most stilted, contrite dialogue ever put to film. At first it’s easy to blame the actors for their dull, rushed delivery of their lines, but bear in mind, Tommy Wiseau wrote the entirety of the script, somehow believing this was how people spoke.
The plot is pretty sparse, with the main focus being Lisa just lying to everyone, but it’s for literally no reason, she stirs up the plot and messes up people’s lives, but why? Why do that? It’s never explored or really even mentioned. And as for the aforementioned side-plots that go nowhere, there’s a couple- Lisa’s mum casually mentioning she has cancer, and the weird neighbour kid who continues to be creepy all the time has a drug problem and is nearly killed by ‘Chris R’, who never shows up again afterwards. It’s like he thought of ways to add drama, and assumed that these elements would help the whole, but they don’t go anywhere, and their inclusion is just baffling, and I doubt it would help if we could even take them seriously, which is impossible. And besides, all character reactions to each other are so, unpredictable and unwarranted, I mean look at that clip. Who would react to hearing someone ended up in the hospital?
The camera work is sloppy, we actually made a point during one scene where Lisa is drinking with her friend, to count how many times someone would be holding a glass of wine, then one second later would be reaching for it on the table. It was alot.
And I suppose a review of ‘The Room’ would be redundant without talking about the sex-scenes. As I wrote that last sentence I shuddered a little bit from remembering. Gratuitous, long, and pretty disturbing. Focusing way, way too long on Tommy Wiseau’s arse, and him seemingly trying to penetrate her navel, it’s probably enough to put someone off sex for good.
Of course, as I will elaborate further, it is impossible to hate. A terrible film by all accounts, but there’s fun to be had, even if it’s solely from ripping it apart with your friends, and after watching ‘The Disaster Artist’, I feel like I appreciate it even more. Wait, do you hear a flawless segway?
‘The Disaster Artist’ (2017)
We saw this the day after, at one of the first showings in our hometown, so it was all pretty fresh when we sat down to watch it. The film opens with quotes from celebrities like Adam Scott, Kristin Bell and JJ Abrams, and a whole load more, speaking openly about the film, and this is important, because testimony given feels heartfelt and genuine. These are people who have actually seen the film and enjoy it the same way, it’s telling the viewer that even though we all make fun of the film and don’t enjoy it as intended, there’s solidarity in that, and we all enjoy it. I think it’s important because it lets us know right off the bat this film is a love letter to ‘The Room’.
Beginning from the introduction of Dave Franco as Greg Sestero and including, possibly one of the greatest character introductions of all time (maybe?), James Franco as Tommy Wiseau, all the way to present day.
This film does alot right, from James Franco’s walk perfectly mimicking Tommy W (even though the voice is a little bit off) to appropriately addressing the films mistakes. While based on Greg Sestero’s memoirs of the same name (which Tommy Wiseau himself states is only around 40% true, but I’m not sure if I believe that or not), there’s alot of heart to this story. It’s a story about the importance of encouragement and the dangers of following your dreams with no restraint. It’s heartwarming, hilarious, and somehow inspirational.
The best parts of the movie are without a doubt during the filming process, and as I said previously, the film smartly addresses the questionable choices Tommy Wiseau made with hilarious quips from the cast and crew, such as bewilderment towards Lisa’s mum having cancer, and never mentioning again, to the crews open disgust while filming the sex scenes. The film takes painstaking steps to recreate the actual scenes as well, even if, again, they are just ever so slightly different. If you haven’t seen them yet, here’s a handy dandy link. As you can see, they are not perfect, but within the context of the film, you’ll already have been bought in by Franco’s performance.
The film was a heck of a lot of fun, not just as someone who enjoys mocking bad movies, but then again, I think it’s safe to say everyone does, but as a fan of cinema. As someone who has creative ambitions, and someone who enjoys helping others seek their ambitions. It’s funny and touching, and even if you haven’t seen ‘The Room’, I still think you’ll enjoy it, although maybe not as much.
Watching ‘The Room’, it’s so, so obviously easy to criticise and to tear it apart (Lisa!), but I’ve found a new appreciation for it, watching ‘The Disaster Artist’. No longer do I believe it’s a film that exists for seemingly no reason, I can see how this was the pouring out of Tommy Wiseau’s heart and ambitions. Of course, that absolutely depends on wherever or not you buy into the story, because honestly, it’s pretty unbelievable at times, and while I took all that I saw with a pinch of salt as to wherever or not I believed that these things happened, I don’t think the intention was to change the film into something more fantastical, I could believe some events were simply exaggerated, and there is no problem with that.
Not only do I think it’s a very fun movie, I think it’s an important one. I think that although it could be argued as an over-saturation of pop-culture, that it exemplifies how you can turn things in your favour. I mean, if it was just a bad film, we could just throw that on the pile of other bad films, and Tommy Wiseau would have faded into obscurity by now, but it wasn’t a bad film. TW wanted to make the greatest film in the world, but soared too close to the sun, as it were, and accidentally created the worst film. ‘The Disaster Artist’ highlights the fact that, whether or not we conscious of it, we were always attracted to the heart of the piece, Tommy’s passion, and that is what separates it from other plain, bad movies.
Maybe I have harped on a little bit too much about ‘the heart’ of the film, but I believe it to be true. We find out that it wasn’t just the intention to make a film, it was the intention to make something deeply resonating and personal (In ‘The Disaster Artist’ it’s theorised by the cast that this was a autobiographical piece by Tommy W), he just didn’t have the experience, knowledge, or even really any skills to pull it off, let’s be real. It’s a tale about the cost of following your dreams with reckless abandon, both monetarily and figuratively, and even if it did somehow work out okay for him, in a super backwards way, it’s a cautionary tale.
But seriously, watch both of them if you get the chance. It’s important as film lovers not to just watch the best films of all time, but also the worst, sometimes. And ‘The Disaster Artist’ is just a damn good movie, I want to watch it again already.