SXSW 2017: “The Disaster Artist” Review by Ashley Menzel
Walking into The Disaster Artist I was very nervous. It was one of those films that I knew was either going to be a huge success or a total failure. There was no middle ground. I am happy and somewhat surprised to admit that it is incredible. For those of you who don’t know, The Disaster Artist is a film about the making of one of the world’s most beloved worst films ever, The Room. The Room is directed by, acted in, produced by and written by a very eccentric and mysterious man named Tommy Wiseau. James Franco directs the film The Disaster Artist as well as stars as the famous Tommy Wiseau. Alongside James Franco is his brother, Dave Franco starring as Tommy’s best friend and also star of the film, Greg Sestero. The Franco brothers are phenomenal together. Their chemistry is spot on and they have this dynamic that comes across so well in the film.
James is almost unrecognizable as Tommy Wiseau. He is such a dedicated actor, he has the mannerisms, the odd accent, the swagger and the craziness of Tommy all down perfectly. He transforms into this wild character and gives us some pure magic. Dave as Greg is a great match. His performance is varied and nuanced with subtle changes and a wide emotional range and Dave handled it well.
The film had a ton of cameos in it that I won’t spoil, but they definitely added to the film. Sandy Schklair (Seth Rogen) added spectacular commentary to the film and was an entertaining aspect of the film. All the other actors were well-casted and gave great performances particularly with the challenges they all faced. It is difficult to directly recreate something that is so well known and already exists. The actors had to study the mannerisms and personalities of other actors to play them in the both the real world and in the film. They all did it seamlessly well and it was a total blast to watch.
A lot of people are wondering if you have to see The Room to understand and get The Disaster Artist and while I don’t think it’s necessary, I suggest it. You would get a deeper appreciation for what James has created if you see The Room first. What James does is create a film that doesn’t mock The Room or Tommy, but rather shows you the human factor behind the film. He provides the audience with the context and lives of Tommy and Greg and you appreciate who they are as people.
The Disaster Artist, like The Room is a blast. The film is funny, engaging, and gives a little background into the making of a fan favorite film. Spot-on performances and a true appreciation and respect for The Room make The Disaster Artist a truly incredible cinematic feat. Bravo!