The Disaster Artist ★★★½

This is a movie whose genre entirely depends on the audience you watch it with.

I saw it with a bunch of people who cackled at every actor they recognized and every vaguely-foreign and grammatically-incorrect line of Franco-Wiseau's mouth, and they made it into a comedy, for better and for worse (but mostly, for worse.) Scenes that would almost definitely read as dramatic or character-revealing in the script play out as comedic moments because the audience found something innately hilarious about broken English. (That's a harsh and probably unfair description of what Franco's bringing to the table here, but ultimately– it IS why everyone was laughing. And at multiple times, it's exactly why they want you to be laughing.)

That's not to say the movie entirely deserves flak for this– MOST of The Room is funny for the exact same reasons. But this movie adds to the mystique of Tommy Wiseau in a way that forces you to see him as a real person who works so hard (often in the worst ways) to be his own hero, and asks you to empathize with him. And then, the movie goes on to make him the butt of every joke. It's exactly what I feared would happen with this book being turned into a film– it's a near-impossible balancing act to pull off, and if you watch the movie in an audience that is well-aware of The Room and its cult status, that balancing act absolutely will not work.

There's an incredible character story here in what Wiseau is trying to do and the way he treats the people around him (especially Greg) but it's marred by the need to play the events for comedy. Single lines about Tommy's passion for the American Dream, or his sad-but-necessary friendship with Greg, or how inspired he feels by film and by his own desires to be the good guy are so wonderful and woefully telling of who Wiseau is, but when you read them as jokes, an incredible drama about a mysterious, passionate stranger becomes a 2nd-tier Franco/Rogen comedy where the cameos outshine the story at its center. (Plus, I didn't love the ending.)

I want to give this 3/5, but I'm giving it 3.5/5 because I can't help but think that I would like this movie a lot more if I didn't have to watch it among people who burst into laughter at every other line and every single cameo, like fucking hyenas reading a Highlights magazine.

(Also, as a side note, I cannot shake the feeling that this movie is a little exploitative of a man who at best is a foreigner with a dark past, and at worst is a mentally-ill dreamer? But that might be a misread. I've been a little touchy with a lot of TV and film lately! Who knows! I'm gonna see it again!)

(Also also, I do not understand anyone's awards talk about this movie. This movie winning an Oscar would be the ultimate confirmation of the dumb conspiracy that the Academy just loves movies about movies, an idea I've rolled my eyes at and argued against every year for the past 10 years. It's fun, and everybody puts in a good performance, but the only thing I'd believe it getting nominated for is Best Adapted Screenplay.)

(Also also also.... I hate that fucking font!!!!! They use it for ALL of the text in the movie and I GET that it's from The Room but it's so fucking ugly and looks terrible on all of the marketing and at every point in the movie arghhh)

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