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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » The Disaster Artist
The Disaster Artist
Other // R // December 8, 2017
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted December 5, 2017 | E-mail the Author
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As an uberfan of the so-bad-it's-good masterpiece The Room and a solid admirer of The Disaster Artist, The Room co-star Greg Sestero's tell-all book about the making of mysterious vampiric figure Tommy Wiseau's "Tennessee Williams style melodrama as told by an alien who has apparently never seen normal human beings interact" drama-turned-dark-comedy-after-initial-audience-reactions-full-of-howling-laughter, I was a bit reserved in my excitement when I found out that James Franco was going to direct the film adaptation, as well as portraying Wiseau himself.

On the surface, Franco's uninhibited, renaissance man-type creativity and open bravery regarding his artistic output makes him the perfect conduit to channel Wiseau's misguided but admittedly unbridled drive to make it in an industry that rejects him at every turn. Just like Wiseau, Franco keeps working on projects that no one watches or cares much about, and continues on his path no matter how many bad reviews he gets. There was a time when he would push out 3-4 sloppily put together features, most of which were barely watchable. I'll refer you to Exhibit A, his slapdash home video level adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's Child of God. Yes, it's easy to see the artistic connection between Tommy and Franco. But that could have also meant that we'd get a slapdash and rushed adaptation of Sestero's book, one of the most fascinating tales of unbridled cinematic creativity ever put on paper.

Thankfully, my fears were unrealized, as we get an equally respectful and hilarious take on the making of this schlock masterwork. Franco always walks the fine line between giving Tommy the ridicule he deserves, while fully placing the audience into his admirable motivation to let his artistic voice be heard. In its core, The Disaster Artist is an open-hearted testament to the endlessly creative spirit. Whether or not that creativity results in anything that can be taken remotely seriously, that's another matter. The fact that Franco took more than two weekends worth of time to put together his latest directorial effort helps give the whole endeavor a much more professional polish as compared to his previous works.

Franco recreates Tommy's unique mannerisms and crazy characteristics perfectly. Yet this is far from simple-minded mimicry, as Franco also finds a way inside Tommy's head, a dangerous prospect that could cause insanity within any subject, relating us to what drove him to dump millions of his own money to get his big break in an industry that clearly rejects him. The performances all around are great, and the cast does an admirable job portraying actors and other characters that The Room aficionados are more than familiar with at this point. Zac Efron gets extra points in a brief appearance as the intense actor who portrayed the very weirdly named drug dealer in The Room, Chris R.

The film's condensation of the years that took Wiseau to get over his heartbreak regarding the unexpected laughter that resulted in screening his "drama", and finally embrace the comedic aspects of the film, takes a bit away from important character development that could have given the third act a bit more substance. That being said, I understand that choice was probably made to improve the film's pacing. Apart from this one minor note, The Disaster Artist is the movie that The Room fans and lovers of movies about movies have been waiting for.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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