“The Disaster Artist”

Seeing moviegoers take selfies in front of James Franco’s cardboard image of Tommy Wiseau was a tad surprising, but understandable once one experiences the paen to the writer, director, producer, and star of one of the worst movies ever made. A cult film this is, and it is fun to be a part of it.

“The Disaster Artist” lovingly mocks the making of “ The Room”, a love triangle roiling in sex scenes and the ultimate suicide. Like “ The Rocky, Horror Picture Show”, repeat viewings and participation comes with the territory. While I will not see it again, I know the four men who sat behind us will. And I am curious to see the “The Room” from the frame by frame comparison shown as out-takes.

“The Disaster Artist” is a spoof on making a bad movie that has themes of loyalty, friendship, and compassion for dream-seekers. James Franco won a Golden Globe for best actor.

Wiseau is famous for being bad at movie-making, and for spending over six million dollars 15 years ago to create a betrayal film based on his own life. Wiseau advertises his film “ The Room” by renting a huge billboard for five years. The display includes his visage and his telephone number. Initially, some people thought it was a cult.

In San Francisco, June 13th , 1998 we see a group of student actors attempt to take Jean Shelton’s (Melanie Griffin) charge “to reveal themselves”. Tommy ( James Franco)  does an imitation of Brando’s “ On The Waterfront” ’s: “Stella! Don’t ever leave me, baby.” Fellow promising actor Greg Sestero ( Dave Franco) follows him out of class and asks to practice  a scene with him. Greg calls Tommy “fucking fearless”! After a hilarious diner scene, Tommy and Greg bound further and decide to move to L.A. and support each other’s dreams.

Watching this loving mockudrama makes me think of how much fun real bros James and Dave Franco must have had making this movie. It is not for everyone, but I appreciated the loyal friend tale and the mysterious Polish immigrant dream of making it in the movie business. “Everyone want to be star”, Tommy states in his unusual syntax.. Greg shares how “Home Alone” changed his life, because he was home alone, too. Tommy confides that he wants his own planet. They give “pinkie swears” and  yell, “Road Trip”. It is such adolescent indulgence for a nineteen -year- old, and crazy for Tommy, who may be pushing 50.

Megan Mulhally plays a cameo as Mrs. Sestero, Greg’s mom. Protective and suspicious of Greg’s new friend Tommy’s intentions, and fearful of her son leaving town, she quizzes Wiseau on his age. “How old are you?” A great comedic moment ensues.

Seth Rogen is the deadpan script advisor. His slow motion energy is a good foil to the frenetic cast. Questions which are really statements hold court: “Are you on my planet?”

Tommy is often late to the set. He is jealous of Amber, Greg’s new girl friend. When Greg wants to move in with Amber ( Alison Brie) ,  Tommy feels glum and betrayed. Greg has a chance to play a bit part in Brian Cranston’s “ Malcolm in the Middle” tv show. He needs one day off and his beard to stay. Tommy denies him both: “I will not give favor. “Shoot day 58 of the scheduled 49 goes on as Tommy wishes.

Writers Scott Neustadter and  Michael Weber have used Greg Sestero’s book on the filming of “The Room” as source material. The script is both poignant and silly, and says very little about the creative process. Wiseau is seen as a sensitive goof. Sequences where Tommy asks,  “ What’s the line?” will remind you of  “Whose on first?”

The soundtrack makes good use of “ Never Gonna Give Up”, “It Takes Two”, “Good Vibrations” and “What You Want”.

Enjoy the many film references: “Ready To Rumble”, “Shakespeare  In Love”, “The Birds”, “Giant”, “Rebel Without A Cause” and “East of Eden”. “Oh, Hi, Mark.” will stay with you, if no other high marks are met in this production of a production! Stay for the out-takes, and watch the Golden Globes 2018 as Tommy Wiseau tries to take the microphone from a laughing James Franco. Enough said.

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Christine Muller

Carrying a torch for film is what I have done for over forty years, thus the flambleau flamed when I was urged to start a blog. Saving suitcase loads of ticket stubs was no longer relevent so I had to change the game. Film has been important for me in the classroom and a respite for me outside of it. No other art form seems to edge the frayed seams of life as neatly as when a film is done well. I am happy that over one-hundred countries have citizens viewing my thoughts on Word Press, and a few leaving their own with me. Over eight- hundred comments to date, and over two-hundred films reviewed.

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