It would be nice to think we've matured beyond liking things from a strictly ironic standpoint, but when it comes to the 2003 independent movie The Room, one can't help but be drawn into how utterly, mind-bogglingly, almost unbelievably bad it is—to paraphrase Ghost World, it's so bad it goes past bad and back around to good.
James Franco (Freaks and Geeks) knows this, too, and with the help of his brother, Dave Franco (Now You See Me), Freaks alum Seth Rogen and a veritable who's-who of comedic character actors (Paul Scheer, Hannibal Buress and Jason Mantzoukas to name a few), he delves into the bizarre world of its writer, producer, director and star, Tommy Wiseau and his longtime friend Greg Sestero.
In the late-'90s, Wiseau and Sestero set out to make names for themselves as actors. But after years or rejection, they chose to mount their own film about betrayal, alleyway football and definitely having breast cancer. Despite their best efforts and Wiseau's vision, however, it was complete garbage—an amalgam of failed stabs at old Hollywood tropes and a shocking lack of know-how on Wiseau's part. Still, The Room achieved a sort of cult status to the point it's still played and talked about more than a decade later. That's staying power.
James Franco tackles Wiseau (not to mention directing duties) who, true to life, is mysterious and bizarre beyond all reason. With a heavy pan-Slavic accent, he's clearly from some Eastern European country, but refuses to admit it. In fact, to this day no one is sure where the hell he comes from, nor is anyone sure how old he is or from where he made his seemingly endless amounts of money. It's estimated that The Room cost over $6 million to produce; for perspective, Jordan Peele's horror masterpiece from earlier this year, Get Out, ran somewhere around $4 million. But thank goodness Wiseau stuck it out, because The Room is a gift for Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans, cheesy cinema buffs or even just those who enjoy a good train wreck.
That's the real upside of The Disaster Artist, and the making of The Room itself plays support to the evolving relationship of its two central players. Both Francos surprise with nuanced performances as well, making us feel like we're part of something that may have been the worst, but came from a place of artistic purity.
+Fascinating and very funny
-The pacing moves too quickly, making the passage of time confusing
The Disaster Artist
Directed by Franco
With Franco x2, Rogen and Scheer
Violet Crown, R, 103 min.