"James Franco gives his best performance in years and certainly deserves at least a Golden Globe nomination for this role"
James Franco is a prolific actor and filmmaker, but quite a lot of his material has been hit and miss in recent years. However, with The Disaster Artist, which he directs, produces and stars in, he has finally proven that he can still act and he gives his best performance since his turn in the 2010 movie 127 Hours, which scored him an Oscar nomination. The Disaster Artist isn’t quite Academy Award level material, but a Golden Globe in the comedy acting category feels deserved.
He plays Tommy Wiseau, who many people will know as the actor, director, writer and producer of the 2003 movie The Room. It has been called one of worst movies ever made, has achieved cult status and is regularly screened in certain cinemas with interactive audiences throwing spoons and yelling out criticisms.
In The Disaster Artist, we see Tommy becoming friends with Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) in San Francisco after meeting at an acting workshop. They decide to move to LA together and pursue their dream of Hollywood, but they don’t have much success. Greg has the all-American good looks but still fails to score parts, and Tommy has an odd, vampire-like look and an odd European accent that puts everyone off. Refusing to give up, Tommy decides to write a movie for himself and Greg to star in – The Room.
The film then focuses on the troubled production of the movie, pulling from Greg’s account of it in the book he co-wrote, The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever. Tommy’s behaviour tests his friendship with Greg and threatens the production, and when it finally makes it to screens, Tommy struggles with the audience taking it as a comedy when he intended it to be a drama.
Franco has nailed the accent, which is no small challenge, and he looks uncannily like Wiseau sometimes, thanks to some prosthetics, contacts and a wig. He throws himself into the role without vanity and is absolutely brilliant. His brother Dave is fine as Greg but he didn’t look much like him and the role didn’t require much more than Dave’s usual stuff.
There is a stellar supporting cast too – with Seth Rogen as script supervisor Sandy, who regularly clashes with Tommy, Alison Brie as Greg’s girlfriend Amber, Ari Graynor who portrays Juliette Danielle, the actress who plays Lisa, Josh Hutcherson as Philip Haldiman (Denny), Zac Efron as Dan Janjigian (Chris R.), and Jacki Weaver (Carolyn Minnott/Claudette).
With The Room being so bad, it would have been easy to mock Wiseau but Franco doesn’t. It makes you sympathise with him a bit and feel sorry for him as he never got the acting career he wanted and that the movie he worked so hard to make was received so badly.
Seeing The Room definitely helps you understand injokes and references and will definitely make you laugh more, but it isn’t essential. It is a story that everyone can get behind - a tale of friendship, ambition and the pursuit of dreams and it has a lot of heart and is also incredibly funny.