The Disaster Artist – Thrusting at the Bellybutton

Try to picture this: James Franco is a wacko director directing himself as a wacko director directing himself. That accurately describes the new film The Disaster Artist, which opens today in San Francisco. The in-movie “wacko director” is Tommy Wiseau, writer, producer, director, and star of The Room, a cult-classic cache of hilariously broken English. Franco shows us the larger story of Wiseau and The Room  based on the memoire by Wiseau’s real life best friend / The Room co-star Greg Sestero – The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room.

Dave Franco as Greg Sestero and James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in a scene from the 2017 comedy, The Disaster Artist.
Courtesy of A24.

If you live in a metropolitan area, chances are The Room has played regularly at midnight somewhere near you for the last ten years. When I watched it alone on my computer it didn’t really work: The Room is as much a social experience as it is a movie. Like with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, audience members are generally regulars that know all the words and throw objects in the theater. With The Room, the fascination has to do with the incomprehensible nature of the project as a whole—how could this possibly happen? Franco provides the answer with this adoring chronicle of a baffling production.

The first third of The Disaster Artist sets the scene: Wiseau (played by James Franco) is your typical Hollywood dreamer—but with millions of dollars and severe social difficulties. Unsurprisingly, he decides to write, direct, produce, star in and fund his own film. The result is an absurdist tragedy about a man that kills himself after his fiancée fucks his best friend – undeniably inspired by Sestero (played by Dave Franco), his real life best friend, who found a girlfriend and minor success while Wiseau floundered. This is where it gets interesting…

James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in a scene from the 2017 comedy, The Disaster Artist.
Courtesy of A24.

In Wiseau’s film, Greg Sestero plays the unfaithful best friend, but rather than developing a relationship with a woman he met at the bar like he did in real life, he’s fucking Wiseau’s fiancé. This gives us an idea of the way Wiseau’s mind works, or rather how his mind feels. As all artists do, Tommy is translating his experiences into another form of expression. In this case, the translation is just a slightly distorted version of reality (kind of like his version of English). He idolizes the “all-American hero,” he has sex with his blonde fiancée (inexplicably thrusting at her bellybutton), and he tosses around a football with his buddies. It’s the American Dream reenacted by an alien.

The bottom line: this is a celebration of Hollywood’s weirdest movie – hilarious and heartwarming. It’s full of cameos: Seth Rogen, Hannibal Buress, Zoey Deutch, Nathan Fielder, Kate Upton, Adam Scott, Zac Efron, Bryan Cranston, Judd Apatow, J.J. Abrams, Zach Braff – a testament to the special place The Room holds in Hollywood. As Dap put it for the PR man, it’s a love-letter from one filmmaker to another. If you love The Room, cinema in general, or you’re just into weird shit – this one is for you.

James Franco as Tommy Wiseau in a scene from the 2017 comedy, The Disaster Artist.
Courtesy of A24.

P.s. Tommy – if you’re reading this, let’s make a film where you play James Franco directing… wait what else has he directed?


T. Anthony Schear doesn’t accept the status quo. His progressivist rebellion from the status quo substantiates his opinions. These are ideas you’ve never heard before, which make you think: Where did these thoughts come from? Are they potentially concerning?  Wiki | Portfolio