The master of disaster: a review of “The Disaster Artist”

A mix of friendship, comedy and Tommy Wiseau is a recipe for disaster. More accurately, it’s a recipe for The Disaster Artist.

The Disaster Artist is a journey of a movie, both in background and in content, and I honestly don’t know where to begin when describing it.

Photo courtesy of Jake Michaels for The New York Times
James Franco (front), star of The Disaster Artist, poses with Tommy Wiseau, who he portrays in the film.

This film has layers. It’s the movie adaptation of a book that’s based on the behind-the-scenes action of the film “The Room”. We aren’t talking “Room”, the critically acclaimed movie starring Brie Larson; “The Room” is the movie that inspired “The Disaster Artist” and is widely considered to be the worst film ever created.

I’ll give you a little bit of background on “The Room”. On June 23, 2003, Tommy Wiseau, a kooky man with an untraceable accent, threw a screening of “The Room”, his passion project movie with a production budget of $6,000,000 of his own money. He wrote, directed, produced and starred in the awful film.

Fast forward to Oct. 10, 2013; Greg Sestero, Wiseau’s costar and best friend, released his tell-all memoir, “The Disaster Artist”, which gave readers an insight into what happened behind the scenes while shooting “The Room”, as well as describing his close friendship with Wiseau.

And 15 years after its original release, people are still buzzing about “The Room” thanks to James Franco’s award-winning performance as Tommy Wiseau in “The Disaster Artist”.

When I first heard they were adapting “The Disaster Artist” into a film, I was apprehensive. I read the book and loved it, but I had no idea how they would adapt it into a blockbuster film that would appeal to a wide range of people. “The Room” is a cult classic, giving “The Disaster Artist” a pretty niche audience, and its a long novel with many different stories that intertwine throughout its entirety.

Photo courtesy of Wiseau Films/A24
Tommy Wiseau (left) in “The Room” (2003) and James Franco in “The Disaster Artist” (2017)

Sharing the silver screen for the first time, brothers James and Dave Franco star as unlikely best friends Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero. In addition to the Franco brothers, The Disaster Artist is packed to the brim with more familiar faces. Nathan Fielder, Hannibal Buress, Alison Brie, Seth Rogen, Zac Efron and Josh Hutcherson are just a handful of the stars who appear in the film.

I saw the movie three times, however, I first saw it at The Music Box in downtown Chicago a day before it hit theatres. Afterward, the screenwriters of the film, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, had a Q and A session with the audience, which was really interesting. One of the main points they wanted to drive home is that “The Disaster Artist” can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless if you’re familiar with “The Room” or not. Whilst I agree that anyone could watch and enjoy “The Disaster Artist”, I wholeheartedly think that familiarizing yourself with “The Room” and reading the book beforehand makes the film so much more engaging, because you’re in on all of the inside jokes and have a better understanding of the characters and plot.

I suggest you approach watching “The Disaster Artist” in this order:

1.) Watch “The Room” or a compilation of clips from “The Room”-whatever you do, don’t watch it alone or go to a screening the first time you see it-it’s the kind of movie you need to watch for the first time with a group of friends.

2.) Read “The Disaster Artist” by Greg Sestero- it’s a wonderful book that answers some of the lingering questions you might have after watching “The Room”, as well as it gives you more information on the setting and upbringing of the characters, which in my opinion, was kind of glossed over in the movie.

3.) Rewatch “The Room” – this is an optional step, but it helps refresh your memory on what particular moments or scenes are referenced because the movie is so unorganized and confusing. It also is a whole lot funnier when you know what happened behind the scenes.

4.) Watch “The Disaster Artist” – I suggest you watch “The Disaster Artist” with some friends who are familiar with “The Room” – I watched it with my friends whom I watched “The Room” with for the first time – otherwise you’ve got a lot of explaining to do.

Obviously, you don’t have to prepare to watch a movie, but it’s so much more enjoyable if you have a pretty good grasp of the culture of “The Room”.

Photo courtesy of Matt Winkelmeyer
James Franco and Tommy Wiseau snap a picture after Franco’s Golden Globe victory for his portrayal of Wiseau.


Overall, “The Disaster Artist” is incredible, and my fears about the movie were shattered. James Franco embodied Wiseau by both starring and directing the film, and his efforts paid off; his performance earned him a plethora of awards including the 2018 Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture. “The Disaster Artist” is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a very long time, the cinematography and script are phenomenal, and it has a great underlying message on the importance of unconditional brotherhood. There are quite a few discrepancies between the movie and the book, but that’s understandable considering how they had to condense 10 years of a friendship into a 104-minute film.

When it comes to leaving lasting impressions on audience members, “The Disaster” Artist certainly left its (oh hai) mark.