The cult classic is a term often used for films that develop a following so unexpected and unprecedented that it undermines any good or bad reviews that the film may have received from fellow critics. While some cult classics are not all poorly received by critics, some are so universally panned that they become a charming entry into many cinephiles lists of “favorite bad films.” Throughout the years, films like Scarface, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, This is Spinal Tap, Troll 2, Batman and Robin have gained cult status with Rocky Horror establishing itself as the longest-running theatrical release in film history. However, one film accidentally placed itself in a category it never intended to, The Godfather of bad films; the distinct honor is placed on Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.
For those unaware, The Room is without a doubt, the most brilliant bad film ever made. Channeling the spirit of the late, great Ed Wood, Tommy Wiseau writes, stars, produces, and directs a film that is filled with football throwing in the most inappropriate moments, a poor man’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo, sex with belly button over bad 90’s music, cringe-worthy dialogue, and the fastest flower purchase in film history. The Room has it all! What makes The Room an all-timer in the guilty pleasure category is the fact that this film is meant to be a drama but instead the end product is a laugh out loud mess that is impossible to look away any time it’s on.
Fast forward 14 years, James Franco’s The Disaster Artist looks back at not just the making of the film, but a character study about two men who are different in so many ways, yet share one similar trait, the desire for fame. The film chronicles both men throughout many different years of their lives. It opens in 1998 with Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) at an acting class. Unlike his future counterpart Tommy, Greg is shy and inhibited and apprehensive while Tommy attempts to channel his inner Marlon Brando, an attempt that goes as well as The Room actually being a drama. A scene that captures the hysterical madness of method acting gone wrong. Despite the comedic tone of the scene, this moment captures the importance that Wiseau will have on Greg’s life as not just an actor but a person. An irreplaceable bond was born.
While the film time hops through different years of not only their friendship but the eventual making of The Room, it does not detour from the effect of the film, that’s to Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber’s adaptation that captures the nostalgia of The Room while creating a tale of the struggling friendship.
Since the film first premiered at South By Southwest on March 12th, James Franco has been praised for his performance of Tommy Wiseau. I conquer, as Franco’s performance surpasses his take in 127 Hours, and will be attached to his career as a defining role. His performance is the film’s greatest strength as Franco’s portrayal embodies a sadness towards Tommy. On the surface, Tommy is a loud, overbearing individual; however, Tommy loneliness and needing of acceptance and understanding make Wiseau an endearing character, that becomes difficult not to root for. The sadness in his characters is captured at the premiere of The Room. The crowning moment in Wiseau’s life is overtaken by laughter in a theater full of moviegoers and cast of the film. As laughter roars through the crowd, Wiseau is sitting in embarrassment and tears, and I personally felt bad for Tommy at that moment. The beauty of this film is how perfectly it blends the humor and the sadness and regret of the film’s central character.
Fans of The Room can rest easy as The Disaster Artist captures every breathtaking moment of the film. The cringe-worthy moments are even captured in the film’s credits as a side by side comparison with the original scenes from the film. While a viewing of The Room is not needed to view this film, it is recommended as the classic scenes from the film cue a thunderous laughing roar and applause from members of the audience.
The Disaster Artist is nothing short of a beautiful disaster. A film that puts a spotlight on two men who shared a bond that led the “greatest bad film” of all time to be made. A sure-fire Oscar nominee, The Disaster Artist embodies the American Dream and a true inspiration for up and coming actors and directors who dreamed the way Tommy and Greg once did.
Reel Talk gives The Disaster Artist 4 Reels