[Screen It]


(2017) (James Franco, Dave Franco) (R)

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Dramedy: Two untalented men set out to make a film that will unintentionally go down as one of the worst movies ever made.
It's 1998 and Tommy Wiseau (JAMES FRANCO) and Greg Sestero (DAVE FRANCO) are two aspiring actors who meet in an acting class, with neither of them remotely being good. They hit it off as friends, and Tommy invites Greg to be his roommate in Los Angeles so that they'll be in the center of the entertainment capital. While unable to land any significant acting jobs over the course of a few years but with Greg finding a girlfriend in Amber (ALISON BRIE), a bartender who soon moves in with him in Tommy's place, the two men decide their best course of action will be to make their own movie.

With abundant cash from undisclosed sources, Tommy buys the gear, rents out the space, and he and Greg hire performers to work in front of the camera, such as Juliette Danielle (ARI GRAYNOR), Philip Haldiman (JOSH HUTCHERSON), and Dan Janjigian (ZAC EFRON) among others, and the crew folks behind it, such as Sandy Schklai (SETH ROGEN) who will work as the script supervisor for Tommy's script from which he also directs.

But when the shooting starts -- including with Tommy playing the lead character -- everyone soon realizes he doesn't have any talent on either side of the camera, with Sandy having to step in to direct take after take after take. As the days wear on and tensions mount on the set as Tommy becomes increasingly temperamental, everyone soon begins to realize they're making a train wreck of a movie.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
I'm not sure which is worse, people who are talented in one field and try to segue into something related or even completely different and end up falling flat on their face, or watching someone with no talent at all but enough cash or connections to give it a go when they obviously shouldn't.

On one hand, there are only so many prestigious jobs out there, so it feels a bit greedy when an actor decides to sing or a sports figure tries their hand at acting. But maybe that's what they always wanted to do and hate what currently pays the bills. Even so, seeing a talented person fail can often be painful to watch.

Although it's usually not as bad as a person with zero talent creating something that's so painful to behold that wincing it's even a strong enough, adverse reaction. And when a talentless person throws fuel on the bad effort fire by taking on more tasks and adding additional responsibilities that also require talent, that only multiplies the pain.

Such was apparently the case with Tommy Wiseau and his movie "The Room." I've never seen it (and have no intention to do so), but it's been labeled by some as the worst film ever made. Had that been Wiseau's goal that would have been one thing, but apparently the deep-pocketed man -- who not only financed the film, but also wrote, directed and starred in it -- thought he was creating great art.

His tale of making such an "illustrious" movie now arrives in the form of "The Disaster Artist" based on Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell's 2013 book of the same name. In it, James Franco stars as the mysterious and talent-free filmmaker who gets the bug to make a movie with his new acting pal, George Sestero (Dave Franco, James' real-life brother).

The two meet in an acting class where both stink up the joint, and then decide to move to Los Angeles where Tommy already owns a place. Facing rejection after rejection, they decide to make their own movie. And with plenty of money to burn and thus having no problem hiring the rest of their cast and crew, they set out to bring their creation to life.

But much like Frankenstein's monster, it's an ugly beast that starts to take form, completely hampered by the fact that the multi-hyphenate mad scientist, so to speak, does not have enough talent for just one task, let alone all those shoes he's trying to fill. And thus everyone on set -- such as the script supervisor turned de facto director played by Seth Rogen -- watches with mouths agape as they come to realize the debacle that's now engulfed them.

Much of the film's humor stems from that, and while it becomes a bit repetitive and redundant, for the most part, it works in terms of enjoyable enough entertainment. James Franco (who also directs and works from Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber's screenplay adaptation of the previously mentioned book), is a hoot as the talentless man, and he disappears so far into the oddball character that you barely recognize him.

That said, his character arc is fairly flat, and while a little empathy ends up eked out, he also becomes a bit repetitive and less interesting as the 105-some minute film wears on. In a smaller part, Zac Efron also purposefully goes over the top with his actor character, while a slew of notable people appear both as themselves in the movie (such as Judd Apatow having his restaurant dinner interrupted, Bryan Cranston needing an actor with a beard for a project he's shooting, etc.), doing cameo character bits (Sharon Stone, Megan Mullally, Melanie Griffith) or appearing right from the onset commenting about the real-life movie (Kristen Bell, J.J. Abrams and so on).

All of which gives the film the sort of "in crowd" movie about moviemaking vibe that film critics and film nerds seem to love, but doesn't always translate over to regular moviegoers. Only time will tell how that plays out, but at least "The Disaster Artist" won't follow its predecessor down the path of "so bad it's good" fame. Entertaining enough but increasingly repetitive as it goes, the film rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed November 15, 2017 / Posted December 1, 2017

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