Since Force Awakens, December has become a slog. By the time the month comes round, everyone is ready to see the new Star Wars. Nothing else matters and the studios know it. It is an early start to January, the cinematic dumping ground where undesirables are released to recoup a minuscule profit. I do not want to see anything besides Last Jedi this month and one other movie.
In search of fame, best friends Greg and Tommy, played by Dave and James Franco, decide to make a movie. The filmmaking process, however, becomes a test of their friendship as Tommy becomes more erratic and hard to work with.
Disaster Artist is an ATHFCMFFT situation; no one outside of the fan base is going to buy a ticket. Most people have never heard of The Room (not that one), Tommy Wiseau, or get the appeal of bad movies. Unless James Franco’s magnificent performance grabs them, there is no reason anyone would see this film. For me, I was anticipating Disaster Artist as much as Last Jedi. I have never seen The Room, but I looked up a montage of the best scenes, and I am familiar with its impact on the culture of funny-bad movies. For something so prolific, I wanted to see its origin.
That is where the film hamstrings itself. Right off the bat you lose a significant portion of the potential audience by appealing to fans of The Room. A lot of the in-jokes, Tommy’s mannerisms, and references to that hallowed classic will go right over people’s heads. I saw Disaster Artist with a friend who does not understand why some bad movies are funny and she did not like it. I was laughing my head off while she was still as a statue. That is not to say the film is without merit.
The relationship between Tommy and Greg drives the story. You really feel for the two as they struggle to achieve their dreams in spite of their flaws. Greg is a terrible actor who lacks intensity. Tommy is nothing but intense with no self-control. Together they form an unlikely friendship in order to support each other. Greg needs Tommy for motivation and Tommy needs Greg’s dependence. Being brothers James and Dave Franco worked very well together, selling the friendship that made The Room.
The recreation of the behind the scenes of the movie is why you should see Disaster Artist. The collision of Tommy’s personality and ambition with normal filmmaking professionals is the best part. It appropriately makes up the whole of the second act as an obstacle course for Tommy and Greg. Some of the best moments are from this part and it is reason alone to buy a ticket.
Most films are not for everyone. I avoid all manner of genres for financial reasons and as a matter of personal taste. The Disaster Artist has such a niche subject that most audiences will have no clue what is happening. They would not believe that a man like Tommy Wiseau exists in reality when they see James Franco’s performance. However, I think going in knowing absolutely nothing is the best possible scenario. Knowing what the movie is about ruins the mystique behind The Room and the men who made it. Go see it before you spend all your money on Last Jedi.