REVIEW: James Franco’s Acting, Directing Is On Point In ‘the Disaster Artist’

If commentaries and special behind the scenes features show anything, it’s that the process of making a movie can be a story in itself. That’s even true for what’s been dubbed by some as the worst movie ever made, “The Room.”

“The Disaster Artist” tells that very story. The movie opens in the late 90s from the perspective of Greg Sestero (Dave Franco), a young actor trying to find a way to get his big break. During one of his acting classes, Greg meets Tommy Wiseau (James Franco), an odd man who seems to have no fear when it comes to performing. Greg, impressed by how Tommy is fearless in his acting, decides to strike up a friendship. After the two becomes friends, Greg soon learns that Tommy is mysteriously rich.

As a result of Tommy’s wealth, the two are able to move to Hollywood to try and get into the film industry. However, the effort becomes fruitless after a while. As a result, Tommy decides to just make a movie on his own with Greg as one of the top actors. Because Tommy has seemingly no experience or talent in writing, directing and acting, though, the filmmaking process doesn’t exactly go smoothly.

James Franco, who also directs “Disaster Artist,” gives viewers a very entertaining look into the truly bizarre story of how “The Room” came to be. Not only is it interesting to see how the project all came together, but it’s also very comedic. As expected, the humorous aspects revolve around Tommy, centering on his behavior and the work he did to make the film.

The reason this works is in large part thanks to James Franco, who becomes nearly unrecognizable as Tommy. It’s apparent that Franco did immense research, as he captures Tommy’s strange accent and his many mannerisms. Not only does this add to the humor, but it also makes it feel that much more authentic. Because of his impressive portrayal, James Franco should definitely pick up some nominations this season.

Credit also has to go to Dave Franco, who was the other piece of the puzzle in recreating this story. Dave Franco does solid work in playing Greg, who’s at first fascinated and intrigued by Tommy but later becomes agitated and frustrated by his counterpart’s antics. The dynamic between the two is really what keeps the movie running along and there’s a natural on screen chemistry because of the two actors being brothers.

While “The Disaster Artist” has a lot going for it, though, it’s not without issues. One that’s quite striking when all is said and done is the lack of tension. While Greg, Tommy and the rest of the film crew have frustrations with each other, it never feels truly dramatic. This aspect coincides with the film’s largely comedic tone, which helps and hinders things to a point.

Don’t get me wrong, I laughed quite a bit at this film and this aspect made some parts genuinely entertaining. However, nearly everything is played to comedic effect and as a result, the film’s attempts at making the audience have sympathy for either Greg or Tommy fall largely flat. Additionally, I was somewhat disappointed that the film didn’t go into more of the aftermath following “The Room’s” early 2000s release.

Despite this, for the most part, “Disaster Artist” still works. Along with the strong performances and exploration of this bizarre story, James Franco and his crew also did extensive work in recreating exact scenes from “The Room.” The picture even includes a reel at the end showing scenes from “The Room” and their recreations side by side and the accuracy is perfect.

“The Disaster Artist” is a largely enjoyable picture, even with its drawbacks. It’s certainly worth a watch and will definitely pick up some recognition this award season. 4.4 out of 5.

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