Review: The Disaster Artist

THE DISASTER ARTIST was originally reviewed at TIFF 2017.

PLOT: The making of Tommy Wiseau’s (James Franco) THE ROOM, as seen through the eyes of his best friend, struggling actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco).

REVIEW: To say there’s never been a movie like THE ROOM is an understatement. Sure, plenty of terrible vanity productions have seen the light of day, especially since digital made the actual technology needed to make a film so accessible, but who would ever watch one of those movies for fun? THE ROOM is bad, but it’s magnificently bad.

Anyone who’s followed James Franco’s career can sense his fascination with performance art, with some of his early films as a director, or art installations being a bit tough to sit through, but he’s following his muse and it’s easy to see why he’d feel a kinship with Wiseau. As such, he’s made a movie that’s an absolute love letter to the enigmatic writer-director-star, which will likely further establish his reputation as one of the cult icons of our time.

You don’t really have to have seen THE ROOM to have fun with THE DISASTER ARTIST, but it helps. Franco’s recreations of scenes, which includes him as Wiseau and Dave Franco as Sestero, as well as Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson, Jacki Weaver, and Zac Efron (in a funny cameo) as the actors cast by Wiseau are so uncanny, he can’t resist the opportunity to include split-screen comparisons with the real thing before the credits roll.

Even still, Franco doesn’t turn Wiseau into a joke. He’s funny, but not a stock comedy character. There’s a vulnerability behind the eyes or in his friendship with Sestero, that elevates the comedy into pathos. It’s worth noting that Franco never tears down the Wiseau myth too much by revealing his real age, nationality (he tells people through his thick Eastern European accent that he’s from New Orleans) or how exactly he managed to fund a $6 million movie. Why would he? What we imagine is better than the truth anyways.

A who’s who of celebs show up as themselves, both paying tribute to THE ROOM in sequences reminiscent of the “witnesses” in REDS (complete with them in front of a stark black background) and as themselves bouncing around in late nineties L.A. Alison Brie has a small part as Sestero’s loyal girlfriend, while Seth Rogen and Paul Scheer play it straight as frustrated members of Wiseau’s crew, who have to put up with his madness on a daily basis.

I went into THE DISASTER ARTIST not quite getting why Wiseau’s film has caught-on so much, but after watching this, I kinda get it. In a way, it’s a David & Goliath story. Wiseau may have made crap, but at least he made something from his heart, turning this into kind of a contemporary ED WOOD. As far as Franco’s work as a director goes, this is a major step forward, and, along with “The Deuce” caps off an amazing resurgence.

Review: The Disaster Artist




About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.