The Disaster Artist is essentially a biopic of an episode in the life of the mysterious Tommy Wiseau, a failed actor who somehow managed to spend over $6m on making what some regard as the worst film in Hollywood history; The Room. (It scores 3.6 on IMDB for information.)
I would urge you to at least watch some of the ‘Best of The Room’ videos that you can find on Youtube before seeing tThe Disaster Artist. Better still, go to a screening of the movie which has reached such levels of cult status and interactivity that it’s become a bit like a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening or a Singalonga Sound of Music.
I mean it’s awful. The Room, that is.
Here we find out how it came about and that means trying to get under the skin of Tommy Wiseau himself, clearly a task that James Franko has tackled with some relish, as he plays the lead role (and, like Wiseua directs the movie). His younger brother Dave Franko plays Wiseau’s best friend Greg who plays Mark in the movie.
It’s outright weird in places as we try to get to grips with Wiseau’s accent – at times he is virtually unintelligible (including in The Room final cut – one of its great charms). He claims to be from St Louis but he looks Chinese or certainly East Asian and sounds Hungarian or certainly Eastern European. It’s a bizarre mash up that Franko nails from the off.
Then there’s the money, where does it come from? No clues are given. And his sexuality? His relationship with Greg is nothing if not close, but there is no sexual advances made on his ‘baby faced” charge who he takes in to his home in LA.
Seth Rogan has a supporting role as an exasperated Script Supervisor/stand in director when Tommy is on screen – one famous scene required 67 takes and is captured hilariously here.
But it’s all a little sad. Clearly we are laughing AT Wiseau not WITH him and it all felt a little charmless in that respect. There’s no doubt Franko pulls it off and his brother also has a good turn, but for me I’d have liked just a spark of sympathy for the big fella.
The movie has gone on to wash its face and Wiseau has milked it enthusiastically over the years – maybe a little more than a caption to that effect would have given Tommy the last laugh.