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The UnPopular Opinion: The Disaster Artist

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

When the Oscar nominations were announced, many felt that James Franco and THE DISASTER ARTIST were snubbed due to the timely accusations against the actor that became headline news after he won the Golden Globe for playing Tommy Wiseau in the comedic tale of how THE ROOM went from terrible filmmaking to a cult classic. There could be some connection between the two, especially in light of the ongoing movement to eliminate sexual inequality in Hollywood as scandal after scandal rock the American filmmaking industry. Or, it could be that THE DISASTER ARTIST is not that great. Sure, it is fun seeing a cast of familiar faces tackle one of the most bizarre movie stories of the last twenty years, but James Franco's movie is a lot like every movie he has directed: mediocre at best. THE DISASTER ARTIST could be the best film to come from Franco, Seth Rogen, and their band of movie-making buddies, but that is far from an endorsement of greatness. This movie has no right being nominated for anything at the Academy Awards.

THE ROOM is bad, really bad. In the annals of film history, there are movies far worse than Tommy Wiseau's "masterpiece" but few have such a bizarre and storied development. Wiseau's friend and co-star, Greg Sestero, penned the book that THE DISASTER ARTIST is based on which delves into the sheer insanity of the film's journey as well as the mystery behind who the hell Tommy Wiseau even is. The fact that THE ROOM has turned into a cult classic was mere happenstance rather than design and yet Hollywood loves a good story about an underdog who succeeds, even if it is by accident. So, turning this into a film made perfect sense. While James Franco does do a great impression of Wiseau, it is just that: an impression. Of all the characters in the film, Franco is the only one who had to transform himself into the character he was portraying with everyone else essentially just being themselves.

The UnPopular Opinion, Drama, Comedy, The DIsaster Artist, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, Tommy Wiseau, The Room

James Franco fashions himself a multihyphenate in Hollywood having written, produced, directed and acted in multiple projects he has developed. While I have thoroughly enjoyed his work in movies like THE INTERVIEW and the televison series 11.22.63 and The Deuce, the common thread is that those are all projects he had the least direct oversight on. Yes, he helmed some episodes of his shows, but when Franco is purely an actor, he fares so much better than when he has all of the control of the project. On THE DISASTER ARTIST, Franco may not have written the screenplay, but his mediocre directing skills result in a movie that is a glossed over adaptation of what should have been a much more involved and layered story. Reading the book that inspired THE DISASTER ARTIST will leave you wondering why Franco cut some of the most bizarre and interesting elements. The answer is that if he had kept them in, his vanity project would not have had room for his friends.

While there is nothing wrong with the performances from Josh Hutcherson, Hannibal Burress, Paul Scheer, Alison Brie, Seth Rogen, Zac Efron or any of the tons of other cameos and supporting roles in THE DISASTER ARTIST, they all feel like a bunch of buddies hanging around together and shooting an homage to a shared cult favorite. It is interesting to note that when Seth Rogen initiated a similar buddy type movie with THIS IS THE END, it came off feeling more genuine and funny than any moment in THE DISASTER ARTIST. If not for all of the recognizable faces in THE DISASTER ARTIST all playing generic and forgettable actors who dreamt of being famous, this movie would have disappeared quickly from anyone's radar like so many of Franco's previous directorial efforts. The all-star cast Franco employed helped buoy this bland movie that is nowhere near as good as it should be.

One of the film's biggest problems is Dave Franco. While I appreciate the sibling effort behind THE DISASTER ARTIST, the younger Franco is miscast as Greg Sestero. The tall and lanky Sestero and much shorter Dave Franco share virtually no physical resemblance whereas every other actor looks at least a modicum like their real-life counterpart. Dave Franco has a certain charm that works when he appears in supporting roles but he is just not strong enough to carry THE DISASTER ARTIST and is brutally overshadowed by his elder brother. James Franco monopolizes every scene he is in and Dave is left to look aghast. Even Dave's fake beard is distracting and takes away from actually delving deeper into the story. While I respect the effort that Franco and his crew made in trying to replicate the awfulness of THE ROOM, their attention to detail takes more effort and time than necessary and should have been spent developing the characters.

The ultimate issue with THE DISASTER ARTIST is that it was approached as if the journey of THE ROOM was one that always was intended to be the cult, midnight moie it became. We see the weird manner in which Tommy Wiseau got his movie made and it ends with the movie premiering to adoring fans who appreciated just how awful the movie was, almost as if it became an instant classic. After an hour and a half of a film that glosses over Wiseau and Sestero's friendship building and crumbling and the anomosity on the production set hitting an all-time high, everyone comes back together and immediately understands that THE ROOM is not a melodrama but actually a bad movie that everyone can enjoy making fun of. In reality, this convenient ending undermines how the film became a word of mouth sensation. Not only does this treat the audience like morons, it is very anticlimactic.

The UnPopular Opinion, Drama, Comedy, The DIsaster Artist, James Franco, Seth Rogen, Dave Franco, Tommy Wiseau, The Room

THE DISASTER ARTIST is a movie that, if anything, serves as a way to inform audiences about the existence of THE ROOM. Watching THE DISASTER ARTIST may be something fans of THE ROOM will appreciate and get a chuckle in seeing famous actors take on the roles in Wiseau's movie, but it is nothing more than a curiosity. Watching THE ROOM itself still remains a much more enjoyable experience than seeing Franco faithfully reconstruct it. Years from now, THE DISASTER ARTIST will be remembered as nothing more than a film that had a higher budget than the movie it was telling the story about. At times boring and other times incredibly generic, THE DISASTER ARTIST is nothing more than a movie about who Tommy Wiseau might be if you never got to know the guy and just made a movie based on second-hand experiences. There was a lot of potential for this to be so much more and anyone shocked that THE DISASTER ARTIST didn't get more love from the Oscars should probably give this movie another watch. It does not hold up well to repeated viewings and remains one of the most overrated movies of 2017.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to [email protected], spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!
Source: JoBlo.com

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