What Is ‘The Disaster Artist’ About and Why Should You Be Excited?

Drew Dietsch
Movies
Movies

The Disaster Artist is becoming one of the buzziest movies of the year. We’ve seen the recent trailer and it certainly looks like a ton of fun. But, some people may be wondering exactly what true story this film is based on.

Well, get ready to dive into a world of unintentional hilarity with a little film called The Room.

The Movie

The story of the film centers around Johnny, a banker who is living happily with his fiancée Lisa. However, Lisa has fallen out of love with Johnny and decides to seduce Johnny’s best friend, Mark. Johhny and Lisa also maintain a semi-parental friendship with a young man named Denny. Denny gets involved with drugs and runs afoul of his violent dealer at one point. All of this culminates into a confrontation between Johnny, Lisa, and Mark that eventually drives Johnny to suicide.

If that sounds like a bunch of soap opera histrionics, that’s because it is. The Room is a low budget relationship drama that’s barely competent at best. The script is an utter mess of unresolved plot lines and ridiculous character motivations that befuddle at every turn. But, it’s within this amateur piece of independent cinema that a real nugget of gold is to be found.

And that’s in the performances. Particularly, the acting styles of the writer/director and star, Tommy Wiseau.

The Artist

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Writer/director/actor Tommy Wiseau in a promo image for The Room.

Tommy Wiseau is what gives The Room so much of its bizarro charm. He’s a mysterious figure who was able to finance and market the film on his own. Yet, it’s not even clear what his nationality or origin is. His unknowable accent and quirky way of acting make him fascinating to watch.

No matter how scatterbrained or stale the story of The Room gets, it’s Wiseau’s performance that keeps people watching out of sheer disbelief. How could this guy get in front of a camera? Who let him do this? And how did it actually get made?

The Disaster

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Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) are humiliated at the premiere screening of 'The Room' in 'The Disaster Artist.'

According to the book that The Disaster Artist was based on, Wiseau’s reason for making The Room was to craft a real character drama. He didn’t mean for it to be comedic. But, the outlandish performances from Wiseau and his fellow actors turned the film into an unintentional comedy of epic proportions. As the film became more known, it garnered the distinction of being one of the best worst movies of all time.

In the wake of this criticism, Wiseau repurposed the movie as a twisted black comedy and audiences responded to this sense of self-awareness. A cult fervor built up around the film, eventually leading to midnight showings a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show where fans interacted with the movie.

And then, we found out the story behind the movie.

The Triumph

The actor who played Mark, Greg Sestero, co-authored a book called The Disaster Artist which chronicled the insane journey of this cult phenomenon. It was this insight into the film’s production and Sestero’s relationship with Wiseau that sparked a renewed interest in The Room.

Which leads us to this new film. James Franco stars and directs — a fitting tribute to Wiseau’s own duties on The Room — and many are saying it’s an absolute blast. The story of someone making art no matter what others think of them is inspiring. A classic example of that is Ed Wood, a similar story about a passionate filmmaker who became regarded as one of the worst directors of all time.

The Disaster Artist looks like a hilarious and heartfelt story about friendship, creativity, and finding success where you least expect it. It’s even starting to get some Oscar buzz which is delightful. One of the worst movies ever made could end up getting professional validation. That alone is beautiful.

Drew Dietsch
Drew Dietsch has written for CHUD.com, the News-Press, WhatCulture, and releases a weekly film review podcast, The Drew Reviews Podcast. He'll yak your ear off about horror movies, Jaws, RoboCop, and/or Batman if you let him.
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