“The Disaster Artist” is a modern comedy masterpiece from James Franco

No one in the industry has probably hyped up The Disaster Artist to themselves more than yours truly. The film always seemed like it was made just for me. And yet, somehow, against all odds, the movie turned out even better than I expected. Opening in limited release this week at last, it’s my favorite motion picture of 2017. Whether it also ends up the “best” and takes my number one spot in a year end top ten list remains to be seen, but this is a modern comedy masterpiece and a tribute to following your dreams unlike any other. Not only is it truly hilarious, it’s deeply touching as well. Nothing else this year is anything like it.

By now it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, considering how often I’ve spoken about this one, but once again, the film is a look at how the infamous movie The Room came to be. Depicted at its core is how an unlikely friendship bloomed between struggling actors Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) and Tommy Wiseau (James Franco). Their chance meeting in an acting class would allow Greg to observe the unique character that Tommy was, someone who was supremely untalented and perhaps the weirdest human being on the planet, but also wildly passionate about movies. A true artist, in the purest sense of the word. They set out to conquer Hollywood together, but when roadblocks pop up, it leads to Tommy casting Greg in a film he’d written, planned to direct, and also starred in. It was, obviously, The Room, which has been called the Citizen Kane of bad movies and has usurped The Rocky Horror Picture Show in some ways as this generation’s midnight movie. The rest is trash cinema history. The elder Franco directs an adaptation of Sestero’s book by scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H Weber. Supporting players include Alison Brie, Zoey Deutch, Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, Melanie Griffith, Josh Hutcherson, Jason Mantzoukas, Seth Rogen, Sharon Stone, Jacki Weaver, and many more, including cameos from J.J. Abrams, Judd Apatow, Kristen Bell, Bryan Cranston, and Kevin Smith, among others. It’s truly a star studded affair, from the unlikeliest of sources.

The Disaster Artist causes so much pleasure it should be illegal in more conservative states. Literally everything about it works. Fans of The Room will howl with delight. Virgins to Wiseau’s vision will be compelled by the Ed Wood like tale. Franco’s commitment not just to the role of Wiseau but also showcasing how this could gain a cult following is something special. This is Franco’s finest hour, bar none. Throw in another top notch screenplay by Neustadter and Weber (easily one of the most underrated writing duos in Hollywood) and the work here is undeniable. Academy voters probably had no idea what The Room was a few months ago, but they sure will now. Franco has been directing for years, but he finally has his home run.

Believe it or not, Oscar may very well come calling for The Disaster Artist in multiple categories. Look for A24 to campaign it smartly, with efforts already launched in Best Picture, Best Director (for Franco), Best Actor (also for Franco), Best Supporting Actor (for Franco, Hutcherson, Rogen, and Scheer), Best Supporting Actress (for Brie and Graynor), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Neustadter and Weber), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Original Score. Right now, Franco seems like he’s in for Actor, while Adapted Screenplay is sitting pretty as well. With those two nods potentially on the board, watch out for one in Picture as well. Hell, even something surprising like a nom in Production Design isn’t out of the question for this one.

As a bonus, here now is Franco’s ten best performances to date, including The Disaster Artist, of course:

10. Palo Alto
9. This is the End
8. True Story
7. The Interview
6. Howl
5. Pineapple Express
4. Milk
3. Spring Breakers
2. 127 Hours
1. The Disaster Artist

Honorable Mention: About Cherry, King Cobra, Lovelace, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Why Him?, and Your Highness

Starting this weekend, audiences can get in on the joke when The Disaster Artist opens. What Franco has accomplished here is nothing short of astounding. It is its own cult classic in the making, but so much more than that. A potential Oscar nominee and modern comedy masterpiece, the raves will continue on hot and heavy for this one. Regardless of if you love The Room or not, this is a must see. Some of you might know how much I was anticipating this one, so consider the fact that it more than lived up to the hype. In fact, it exceeded it. That’s the best compliment I can give. 2017’s crowning achievement is a loving look at the worst film ever made. Go figure…

Be sure to check out The Disaster Artist, beginning its theatrical run on Friday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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