In the years that I’ve been writing / podcasting about movies, one question has come up again and again: “what do you think of The Room?” And the answer is I don’t. At least not often or emphatically. Like the Cha Cha Slide, it only makes sense as a participation sport. In an inebriated group, it’s a blast. Alone in your living room, it’s awkward and sad.
The Disaster Artist is another story. It’s a blast in any context, made all the more impressive by the myriad terrible possibilities it threads the needle between — down-punching satire v historical-revisionistic inspiration, “You’re tearing me apart” fan service v overexposition, cringe comedy v sanitized biopic, beating the joke to death v losing the funny. It’s a bit like Frank, or Eddie The Eagle, in that sense: you don’t necessarily understand the protagonist’s ambitions (at least not in any he’s-exceptional-and-must-be-rooted-for-by-virtue-of-his-talent underdog sense), but you love watching him chase those dreams because to him they are real. Anchored by James Franco’s shockingly rich portrayal, The Disaster Artist keeps those dreams front and center. Maybe The Room was a bomb by critical standards, and Wiseau never quite became the star he intended to be. But in the more important sense, he did prove Hollywood wrong. He became a hero. And watching him get there is a helluva lot of fun.