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Is it possible that a film about the worst movie ever made could end up being one of the year's best films? This is shaping up to be the case, as reviews are starting to drop for James Franco's The Disaster Artist, a loving tribute to Tommy Wiseau's The Room. Unfortunately, the movie screened in Toronto after we left, but the first wave of reviews are getting us very excited... and should do the same for potential audiences. The Room, released in 2003, has achieved cult status for being terrible. It's a deeply personal movie for writer/director/star Wiseau, but it's now mainly a meme generator, which lives on via Midnight screenings and festival plays. But Franco has teamed up with his brother, Dave, and his frequent collaborator Seth Rogen for a comedy about the making of The Room, and critics are raving.
Franco, who's absolutely hysterical as the brooding, deluded Wiseau, leads a parade of familiar faces, including his brother Dave, Seth Rogen, Alison Brie, Josh Hutcherson, Melanie Griffith and Sharon Stone, delivering a winning, Ed Wood-esque blend of comedy and pathos that could very well earn its own cult status when Warner Bros. locks in an as-yet-undetermined release date.
Several reviews have made a point of saying, too, that you don't have to have seen The Room (because few have) to enjoy the humor in The Disaster Artist. Variety, in its review, say:
Whether or not audiences have previously seen The Room, there's satisfaction simply in witnessing such actors parody the process that went into making it. And for those who do know the movie, there are no shortage of before-the-fact nods to ingredients that would later filter into the project: as when Wiseau and Sestero play an awkward game of football (as they later would in The Room), or a couple of melodramatic moments staged on the roof of Wiseau's apartment building (a venue he would inexplicably approximate via lousy greenscreen on a soundstage for the film).
But The AV Club, reviewing off of the Toronto cut of the film (The Disaster Artist premiered at SXSW as a "Work in Progress"), was less than impressed, saying it's "just barely a movie."
It's one tribute-act re-enactment after another, a succession of pointless star and comedian cameos and truly godawful wigs, the entire lazy enterprise summed up by the awful, teddy-bear-fur beard that Dave Franco wears through most of the movie. If The Room is an ersatz likeness of a movie, then what does that make an ersatz likeness of The Room?
But that seems to be the minority. Twitter flooded with raves such as this following its screening in Toronto:
And you will be able to find out for yourself soon enough. James Franco directs and stars in The Disaster Artist, a movie about The Room that you don't have to have seen The Room to enjoy. It opens in theaters on December 1 in limited, going wide -- and possibly building an Oscar campaign -- between then and the end of the year. Will you see it?