|Scene from The Disaster Artist|
It's a fact. Not since Plan 9 From Outer Space has a movie like The Room received unanimous acclaim... for being one of the worst movies ever. It takes a special talent to go above and beyond in the wrong directions, and it's made Tommy Wiseau a mystical figure. But how did it come about? Well, James Franco is adapting and starring in a film version of that story with The Disaster Artist. Much like Plan 9's loving tribute, Ed Wood, there's plenty of hype around the film already, and the first full trailer has dropped with a certain pizzazz that suggests that it's not only a loving tribute, but a very funny look at passionate filmmakers who couldn't quite get the love they thought they deserved.
In some ways, I am baffled by this awards run contention for The Disaster Artist. The subject already seems to be too niche for Academy voters to get on board with, yet film festivals are praising this as some of Franco's best work. As an adamant defender of most things Franco (I'm not about to compliment Your Highness), I am eager to see how things will go with this movie. I am not personally familiar with The Room outside of the legacy it spawned. I am aware of Wiseau as a person, but I'm still not sure whether it will be more fun to watch this movie without that foresight, or if it will add a layer of appreciation. Part of me is still obsessed with the idea of being very confused by Franco's spot-on Wiseau performance.
Then again, those "making of" movies have been doing pretty well at the Oscars. As mentioned, the reference point I have is for Ed Wood, which earned Martin Landau a Best Supporting Oscar win for playing Bela Lugosi. There is an allure to Hollywood's personal love affair, even when that person is outside of the mainstream bubble. My one concern is that I have never been impressed with Franco as a director, having seen the average-at-best films As I Lay Dying and The Ape. Still, he's working in his wheelhouse with a barrage of actors that you may recognize from his last five dozen projects. In that regards, this feels like it has a one-up over his attempt to make classical art out of his limited directing skills.
Check out the trailer below:
It looks pretty funny. Here's the plot description according to IMDb:
A behind-the-scenes look at the making of Tommy Wiseau's The Room (2003).
If nothing else, I am already sure that there's some bias I have towards liking this movie based on the cast. I laughed quite a bit during the trailer as well. Still, this feels like one of those great moments in Franco's career where audiences understand why he swings for the fences every time. It may sometimes become a trifling mess, but his passion has elevated his performance to glory in such films as Pineapple Express, Spring Breakers, and has even gotten him some great performances in Milk and 127 Hours. I am just confused about whether he will be able to spin this tale into another Oscar nomination.
Maybe that is the point. Maybe I am supposed to wonder how The Room is a movie that anyone would care about. Much like Ed Wood, I am relieved that the film at least has a sense of humor about itself. I like that it plays an underdog story that pops with humor and details that are stranger than fiction. I'm still contemplating whether seeing The Room ahead of time will make The Disaster Artist a better experience. Still, if the buzz around Franco is this strong, odds are that A24 was smart to release it when they did. I cannot wait to see it, if just because this trailer is one of the funnier things I've seen during these early stages of awards season.