“I did not hit her. It’s not true. It’s bull shit. I did not. I did noooooooot. Oh, hi, Mark.”
By now, you’ve probably seen the GIFS, the memes, the Golden Globe acceptance speech, and probably more clips of the original movie than you planned for. Hell, Halloween costumes are already popping up in Google searches for Tommy Wiseau or Greg Sestero and it’s the damn second week of 2018. It goes without saying: “The Disaster Artist” is cementing itself into pop culture and the world of cult classics.
“The Disaster Artist” is much like its predecessor and the movie it’s based on, “The Room.” Duh, right? Well, it’s more than just the actual story and plot of the movie. Just like Wiseau did in 2003 for the original movie, James Franco directed, produced, and starred in this feature length film. And it’s pretty obvious from the start the Franco had his hands all in this production. The Franco gang of actors that typically star in his movies were all scattered throughout the movie with the likes of Seth Rogen playing the script supervisor, Dave Franco who plays the infamous woman-stealing Mark, and even some smaller roles for other actors like Bryan Cranston, Zac Effron, and Lizzy Caplan. Shout out to Judd Apatow for the cameo, too.
The concept of the movie is pretty simple: The behind the scenes look on how the hell this off-the-wall movie became a cult classic. There was drama, animosity, and of course, seemingly endless amounts of hilarious moments. The movie starts off a little slow as it begins to define the characters (well, everyone besides Tommy Wiseau because he’s a damn enigma) and once Wiseau and Sestero decide to make the move to LA, the movie really begins to pick up.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this movie. Would it be too many recreations of famous scenes that just don’t payoff? Would there not be enough recreations of scenes that would leave me feeling like I wanted more? Alas, after 103 minutes, I was left with answers and, naturally, more questions. I think the movie does a good job of balancing out recreations while also showing just how incredibly difficult it was to work with Wiseau on the set. While the audience gets the chance to peek into the life of Wiseau (and boy is it wild), we also were given the chance to see how his actions impacted his crew around him.
For the most part, everyone’s character in the movie has a pretty common response to all the madness: This guy is weird, but he pays good. The cast and crew members swirled rumors about Wiseau and some even took to confronting him about it. It also appears that the crew members were at their complete wits ends when it came to Wiseau’s acting skills; just watch the movie and you’ll get it when they are filming the iconic “I did not hit her,” scene.
To me, Wiseau’s character, Johnny, is a self-representation of how Wiseau views himself: an American, a good friend, somebody who someone would want to be. I think James Franco does an incredible job of portraying this. From offering a roof over Greg’s head for no charge to casting him to a movie with a budget of nearly $6 million (funded completely by Wiseau himself I may add), Wiseau just wanted a friend to go through the struggles of LA and Hollywood together. We see that Wiseau’s relationship with Sestero was deteriorated by the making of the movie and obviously, Sestero was impacted by this, but the way the movie portrays it, it seems Wiseau is the one who truly experienced the pain from this. And it shows in the original movie as well as “The Disaster Artist.”
In “The Room,” we see that all the things in Johnny’s life are taken away from him in the worst manner possible. His best friend stole his fiancé just a month before their wedding date. He didn’t get the promotion at work, but they are going to use his ideas anyway. Ultimately, the stress of the world causes Johnny to take his own life. In “The Disaster Artist,” we know that the stress of the world didn’t cause Wiseau to actually commit suicide (because, well, he’s still alive), but the original movie does parallel Wiseau’s actual life and that’s what we see in “The Disaster Artist.” When Greg (Dave Franco) moves out of Wiseau’s apartment in LA, Wiseau sees this as Greg is trying to leave him. On the set, directors and other employees continually talk badly about Wiseau, but have no problems collecting their paycheck from him at the end of the week. Eventually, Wiseau disconnects himself with everyone affiliated with the cast and he goes back to alienation.
Though this is nowhere near the same of putting a gun to your mouth, the sentiment is the same: Wiseau wants to be able to spoil his loved ones, but when he feels like he has been wronged, he attempts to flee from the wrongdoers. In “The Room,” it’s suicide. In real life, it’s isolation.
So this leads me to my burning question: Is Tommy Wiseau actually happy with the reception of “The Room” AND does it kind of feel like we are all collectively laughing at Wiseau, but he’s been included in on the joke out of pity? One of the final scenes of the movie, the audience is watching the first premier of the movie and they are laughing hysterically at the movie. Wiseau (Franco) abruptly leaves the theater with tears running down his face. To his surprise, he is greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd after the movie is finished. Naturally, Wiseau changes his tone and says something along the lines that he is glad everyone appreciated his comedic movie. But, watch “The Room.” It’s clear as day to me that he didn’t intend this movie to be a comedy; it’s a tragedy.
But, maybe I have my tin foil hat on too tight.
Rating on a scale of 1 – 10: 8.5.