The fun thing about this film is that I’ve read the book that inspired it. What makes it even more fun is that this film pales in comparison. Vividly.
The film can stand on its own, showcasing whatever it wills itself to in an effort to deviate from its source and form an identity of its own. The film focuses far more on the fabled “American Dream,” that if you work hard enough, you can achieve your dreams. It will be hard; the journey will be long and tumultuous, but it will bear fruit if you keep to it. That is the extent of this film’s core themes, and why I felt so… unenthusiastic when the credits began to roll.
This review is supremely biased by the extent in which I know this film could’ve taken with its direction and its execution. The novel spoiled me from something that could’ve been more bombastic, more ambiguous, and most importantly, more whimsically-Wiseau. Reading the novel, I could feel the strangeness exuding from the character of Tommy Wiseau—his mannerisms, his decisions, the mystique surrounding his origins. Here, they are used as plot devices and humor. They feel more commonplace. It doesn’t exude the legendary aura that surrounds the enigma that is Tommy Wiseau, nor the film he poured so much of his soul into. The Disaster Artist feels more akin to a standard biopic that only highlights Wiseau as its hook. This may be the most disappointing feature of all.
One could argue that Wiseau is a normal human being just like all of us, who wants to fit in, to be praised, to be loved, to do something great. A more humanistic approach to showcasing his normal side, to be able to empathize with him and his struggles with being untalented at what he loves. But he’s not. He’s not normal. He’s bizarre, he’s strange, he’s the pinnacle of uncanniness, and that’s what makes him so interesting! Embellish that! Focus on the scenes that highlight his strangeness, that motivate his madness; the film would be so much better if Greg took a step back and let Wiseau take the spotlight, as that was most of his role in the novel. Greg, while his own person, is the bridge between us and Tommy’s World most of all. Wiseau is the star, we are the audience.
There’s so much trimming of details! Why not make this film two and a half hours long and cram it with strange Wiseau-isms? It didn’t even detail a major inspiration for The Room in the first place! It feels so… lazy. Like they felt showing Wiseau himself would immediately make the movie interesting—which is correct, but he can only do so much when he’s being portrayed as both strange and not strange. It lacks focus. What is it trying to do, exactly? Aside from making The Room into a pedestal for success, which is hilarious.
I guess what it all comes down to is that I felt it could’ve handled itself much better. James Franco did a great job as Wiseau, absolutely, but there could’ve been more, much more! I want the legend of Wiseau to shine in all of his glory—like a deity, an untouchable idol, an ideal form! This is… typical Hollywood slop.
Final Score: 5/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!