SXSW: The Disaster Artist

Before we talk about this movie, we have to talk about another: The Room. Not Room, the Brie Larson kidnap drama, but The Room, the worst movie ever made. Even better: the BEST bad tumblr_megxu99K4x1ry10fwo1_500movie ever made, the Citizen Kane of bad movies, a movie so bad it’s achieved cult status. Tommy Wiseau was obsessed with movies and had enough cash to get one made, so he did. And he did it with such earnestness and such a complete lack of talent that people love to watch it. Ottawa’s own Mayfair Theatre, one of Canada’s oldest surviving independent movie houses, an official heritage building in our fair city, champion of 35mm film, screener of indies and classics, has been showing it for 92 consecutive months now. Each midnight screening is a riot; this cult film draws fans that know the drill. Matt wrote a great review of it a while back, almost nothing about the movie itself, which defies reviewing, but about the experience of seeing, the rituals that go along with it, the things you yell at the screen, hell, the things you chuck at the screen, it’s all a wild ball of fun.

Greg Sestero, co-star in The Room and Tommy Wiseau BFF wrote a book about making this weird movie with its even weirder director. It’s called The Disaster Artist. Ever a sucker for a great Hollywood story, James Franco read this book one day and immediately got a boner. He brought the script to Seth Rogen on the set of their ill-fated movie The Interview, and the rest is history. Well, future history. I saw the one and only screening of The Disaster Artist at SXSW where it was still billed as a “work in progress.” Tommy Wiseau was in the house, and also seeing it for the first time. Big gulp.

Two things struck me about The Disaster Artist: 1. This film was made with love. It could easily mock The Room, as many have, but it doesn’t. This is a loving ode to The Room, and to the friendship that gave birth to it. 2. This film is fucking hilarious.

Even having never seen The Room, The Disaster Artist is still accessible and relevant. Tommy Wiseau is a goddamned character and James Franco is just the man to play him (although Wiseau pushed for Johnny Depp). Franco got into the part so deeply that he directed while in character too. He was in deep enough to fool Seth Rogen’s grandmother when she visited the set, and in more than deep enough to constantly annoy his little brother “Davey” who co-stars MV5BMjA4ZDZkNjEtNTFkZi00YjhjLWFjZTctNDZlOWVmYzZmZjhhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTM2Mzg4MA@@._V1_with him.  James and Seth debuted Sausage Party at SXSW last year, and for me it was a disappointment. The Disaster Artist, however, gave me continuous giggles. They’ve amassed an impressive cast, some with just bitty walk-on parts, which only proves the love Hollywood has for underdog Tommy Wiseau. Or perhaps for James “I’ll try anything once” Franco. Or maybe James Franco as Tommy Wiseau. In any case, I laughed until I cried, and then I slammed some Diet Pepsi just so I could cry-laugh some more. And I did! This movie will make you rabid for The Room but it stands on its own, a complete movie that probably benefits from NOT being written by Franco or Rogen. It’s an affectionate behind the scenes look at Hollywood gone wrong, but it’s also a kind of heart-warming tale about outsiders who can’t break in so they plow their own field, and even if it’s bad, at least they have potatoes. Know what I’m saying? Oh, hi Mark.




p.s. Check out the comments section for a delightful Q&A with James, Dave & Seth.

35 thoughts on “SXSW: The Disaster Artist

  1. film4fan

    The film definitely has an interesting premise and I was looking forward to the moment when the reviews would come in of the early screenings. Turns out they’re positive, just like this one :). Now I’ve just got to hope that it’ll be released in my country. Good review by the way!


  2. Sean

    This movie was fantastic and somehow made me understand how bad The Room is (as I haven’t seen it either) while at the same time really making me want to see it. I found it completely accessible as well and the most remarkable thing about The Disaster Artist is it manages to be respectful to Wiseau while still being extremely funny because, well, The Room is such a disaster that all you can do is laugh.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Christopher

    Now I want to see this and The Room, a film for which I already have a certain grudging admiration since it’s managed to eclipse Plan 9 From Outer Space, once regarded as the worst movie ever made.
    What the two also have in common is incompetent directors who were nonetheless completely earnest and serious.


      1. ninvoid99

        No I won’t. If it’s as bad as those Friedberg/Seltzer parodies and anything Michael Bay has done since Armageddon. I’m staying the fuck away.


  4. philler211

    I’ve seen The Room and I might be exaggerating, but it almost made me lose the will to live, so thankfully my friend Nick who I was watching it with showed me Reservoir Dogs and I felt alive again. Looking back tho, The Room might be friggin hilarious. I read The Disaster Artist book and I loved it so I’m excited for the movie when it gets a wide release, which I’ve been waiting for a long time. I hate waiting sometimes lol 😂


  5. The Lawn-Cutting Crew

    OK — I’m going to have to see this. I never saw “The Room,” but I did see the review from the Nostalgia Critic, and that was enough to get the gist. There’s nothing like tossing a football back and forth while wearing a tuxedo.


  6. Brittani

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing about this! I’m dying to see it. I finished the Disaster Artist in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down. It was so fascinating. I’m glad they went back to this title because they were calling it “The Masterpiece” for a while.

    I can’t wait. I’m glad to hear you loved it.


  7. J.

    Haha! I’m wanting to see this. I’ve only seen about half of The Room (recommended by a friend who knew how bad it was), as I had to turn it off. You’ve made me want to watch the rest of it. Kinda. Hopefully this sees a wide release, though.


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