thoughts and first impressions: The Disaster Artist


And we’re back with a new Thoughts and First Impressions! I had the privilege of seeing this film ahead of its release at the Hackney Picturehouse as part of E4’s Slackers Club. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing this film a few more times at work. 

The Disaster Artist (2017): dir. James Franco, starring James Franco, Dave Franco, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Ari Graynor, Paul Scheer, Josh Hutcherson

“Oh Hai, Mark,” seems to be the only appropriate way to start this post.


Oh, Hai, Mark.

The Disaster Artist was birthed from Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s tell-all book about the making of the 2003 cult-classing, The Room directed by Tommy Wiseau. The film stars and is directed by professional cough-laugher and Kanye West impersonator, James Franco. James plays Tommy Wiseau, the eccentric yet elusive filmmaker behind quotable lines like: “Oh Hai, Mark”, “Anyway, how’s your sex life?”, “In a few minutes, bitch” and “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!”. The Room has been hailed the Citizen Kane of bad movies, even the best worst movie ever made. It’s definitely an experience.

Before we get into it, I first watched The Room at the Prince Charles Cinema, on one of the nights where Tommy himself introduced the film and took questions. I high-fived him on his way in. It’s truly a cultural phenomenon; everyone in the room is quoting along to the lines, throwing plastic spoons, having the time of their lives. The Disaster Artist was a similar, perhaps more wholesome experience.

The film follows before, during, and after the making of The Room. 19-year-old Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) is timid in delivering a scene from Waiting for Godot in his acting class, until he’s inspired by a strange and confident classmate’s, revealed to be Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), performance of a scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. The two meet and become friends, their bond growing stronger as they share the same dream to become famous actors. After a pilgrimage to James Dean’s crash site (which is also who Tommy drew inspiration from for his famous tearing me apart line), the pair decide to move to Los Angeles to chase their dreams. Tommy is mysteriously wealthy.

It’s really wholesome in the sense that it tells the story of someone who will stop at nothing to make their dreams come true. They never make it a point to make fun of Tommy or The Room, it really is a celebration like the Franco Brothers have often mentioned in interviews.

There are some absolutely stellar cameos in this film; everyone from JJ Abrams to Bryan Cranston. Judd Apatow played himself unbeknownst to him, Joe Mande showed up later in the film and I was the only one to fan out because I just adore him, Hannibal Buress and Jason Mantzoukas have small roles; Paul Scheer plays the film’s DP–I had sort of The League war flashbacks because Seth Rogen, Jason Mantzoukas and Paul Scheer were sharing the screen again. Dirty Randy, Rafi, and Andre reunite to make the Citizen Kane of bad movies. Nathan from NathanForYou was in this too and I nearly cried tears of joy. I think the most underrated cameo, however, has to be Jerrod Carmichael in a party scene with Greg. Dave Franco played a very earnest Greg Sestero, and his now-wife (OH MY GOD) Alison Brie portrays Sestero’s then-girlfriend, Amber.

We can’t talk about The Disaster Artist without talking about James Franco. Honestly, I aspire to hustle as hard as Franco; four Master’s Degrees and meta-filmmaking? Sign me the fuck up. Prosthetics and an absolutely brilliant weave transformed good ol’ James Franco into the notorious Tommy Wiseau. If you watch enough of the press tour, you can honestly pick up how Tommy has leaked into James’ speech pattern. It’s hilarious, and kind of adorable. The accent is addictive. I’ve heard that he directed the film in character and it made for a very interesting on-set experience.

What I loved most about the Franco Brothers’ performance was that it didn’t paint Tommy or Greg as caricatures; they took real life people and real life stories and brilliantly crafted a film that’s equally heartwarming as it is gut-wrenchingly funny. It’s one of the funniest films of the year. I work in a place where we screen The Disaster Artist nearly everyday and I love watching how all the jokes land in the crowd; be it a crowd of 30 or 300, the film reaches so many people on different wavelengths to laugh at the same things and I think that’s a testament to how well-written, directed, and performed this film is.

It’s a story about two people chasing a dream, it’s one for the underdogs on the Island of Misfit Toys. If you thought La La Land was an accurate representation of how hard it is to make it in the biz; sweetie, The Disaster Artist will prove you wrong and then some. It’s also a story about friendship and the trials and tribulations that come with it. I think Hollywood has a pretty strained relationship with portraying friendship especially with men because they go through a lot of “no homo” or incredibly masculine circumstances especially in comedy, but this film really honed in on the dynamic between these two people and how their lives tangle with one another.

On a more technical note: why did they give Ari Graynor that stiff ass weave, though? Why would they do her like that? Why, Lisa, why? Please talk to me. You’re part of my life–you know where I was going with that.

Also, you don’t need to be a fan of The Room beforehand to see this, although it does enhance your appreciation for The Disaster Artist if you do. They’ve written and created an world that’s very accessible to a wide audience.

You couldn’t make a film about The Room without recreating scenes from The Room. I was really impressed with how much effort they put into those; they do a side-by-side comparison reel at the end right before the credits and honestly it always puts the audiences I’ve ushered into stitches.

All in all, I would definitely recommend watching this. And bring your friends. You’ll grow to appreciate them more after seeing this. Also, stay behind after the end credits. You’ll thank me later.

The Disaster Artist is out in cinemas all across London now.

Published by Ariane Anantaputri

sharpay evans sympathiser. screenwriter & stand-up comedian. this is where i talk about movies and my mental health.

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