7/10
"I Do Not Choose To Be a Common Man"
9 December 2017
"The Disaster Artist" (2017 release; 103 min.) brings the real-life story of how the 2003 cult movie "The Room" got made. As the movie opens, a number of current day movie stars, including Kirsten Bell, Adam Scott. J.J. Abrams and others gush about the virtues of this "so bad, that it's so good" movie. We then shift to "San Francisco, July 13, 1998" when Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero meet at an acting class and strike up a friendship. Later that year, they decide on w him to move to Los Angeles, where Tommy somehow has kept an apartment. Tommy and Greg pursue their dream of becoming an actor (inspired by James Dean, among others), but when it's becoming clear that nobody wants to do anything with them, they decide to make their own film... At this point, we are 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this movie is a labor of love primarily by James Franco, who directs, co-produces, and stars as Tommy. His brother Dave co-stars as Greg. The real life story is so beyond anything believable that if this were a work of fiction, it would immediately be dismissed as just that. Let me state upfront that I have not seen "The Room" (although I see it frequently listed as a midnight listing at my local art-house theater). From everything we witness in "The Disaster Artist", Tommy is so incredibly inapt yet convinced of his own talent, it reminds me of those American Idol auditions back in the day where certain contestants think they are super good yet they were horrible. Another similarity is the Meryl Streep movie "Florence Foster Jenkins" (about a real life wealthy NY socialite who thinks she sings well and nobody dares to contradict her, leading to a notorious Carnegie Hall concert). James Franco does an outstanding job in the lead role, and I'm going to predict that he will get a number of nominations in the upcoming awards season. It isn't until the very end of the movie (when scenes from the original "The Room" are played in parallel with the recreated scenes for "The Disaster Artist") that one gets a sense how incredibly meticulous Franco has been in recreating them down to the last detail. Absolutely amazing. Last but certainly not least, the movie features a bunch of other well-known performers, some of them in very noticeable roles (such as Seth Rogen and Alison Brie), and others in "blink and you'll miss it" roles (such as Sharon Stone, Zoey Deutch, Zac Efron, etc.). In an early scene of the movie, when Tommy and Greg become unlikely friends, they head over to Tommy's place, and Greg notices a prominent sign on the apartment's wall: "I Do Not Choose To Be a Common Man". Whatever you think of Tommy, he certainly is not your "common man"!

"The Disaster Artist" opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati on not one, but two screens (a rarity). The Friday evening screening where i saw this at was attended very nicely, I;'m happy to report. The audience roared with laughter on many occasions. The positive word-of-mouth this movie surely will generate makes it likely to have long legs at the box office (at least within the art-house theater circuit). If you are in the mood for something truly different, I encourage you to check out "The Disaster Artist", be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
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