THE DISASTER ARTIST: Past experiences with people in drama and theater arts taught me that all weird ducks aren’t necessarily in the water. One that migrated to Hollywood in the late ‘90s was an oddball wannabe auteur with deep pockets named Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) who would direct, produce and star in a movie called THE ROOM (2003) that’s attained a sort of enduring cult status owing to its’ incoherence, ineptitude and unintentionally funny dialogue. A subject like that has all the potential to be just a niche favorite for aficionados of crappy movies if that was all it were about. But the screenplay by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber goes beyond the back story of a movie about the making of a movie to explore Wiseau’s friendship with a minimally talented young actor (Dave Franco) and how that led to the unlikely achievement of their dreams of “stardom”. It’s LA LA LAND (2016) for losers who actually manage to gain fame albeit in a way they never could have possibly imagined. Known for his real-life “loopiness”, James Franco (127 HOURS) is perfectly cast as Wiseau with his marble-mouthed, indistinguishable accent and willingness to emote Shakespeare in public places. Franco shows newfound promise as director of this work despite some episodic scene transitions. Comparisons with ED WOOD (1994) are inevitable since both works are about filmmakers who love their craft but do it badly as they forge unlikely friendships in the process. But both movies also succeed because one doesn’t have to have seen the cinematic “trainwrecks” being alluded to in the two films to enjoy what’s on the screen. Besides, the movies about how these “epic fails” were made are far more watchable, better produced and written than the lowest of low budget works which “inspired” them. CRITIC’S GRADE: B+
CLOSING CREDITS: The real Tommy Wiseau has always claimed that the title of THE ROOM (2003) refers to the potential of a room to be the site of both good and bad events. Actor Greg Sestero, who’s portrayed by Dave Franco in ARTIST, explained that the film is semi-autobiographical and was Wiseau’s cautionary warning about the perils of having friends. What plot there is in THE ROOM (2003) is centered on a melodramatic love triangle although there were a number of unrelated subplots that go unresolved. The film quickly became a favorite at midnight showings nationwide due to its bizarre, unconventional storytelling as well as various narrative and technical flaws. The movie has managed to turn a decent profit from its near six million dollar budget from the aforementioned late night features plus sales on DVD and Blu-Ray. Wiseau and Sestero are planning to reunite in a comedy-thriller entitled BEST FRIENDS in 2018. To quote a line from Edward Wood’s magnum opus PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1956), “God help us all”.