It turns out you don't have to be a fan of "so bad it's good" movies to be a fan of movies about the making of a "so bad it's good" movie. That is, I am one of the likely relatively few people seeing The Disaster Artist who has never seen The Room, and still has no particular interest in seeing The Room -- and I still very much enjoyed The Disaster Artist.
So, in case you're one of the few who don't know, The Room was a notoriously terrible 2003 film about . . . well, I couldn't tell you what it was about. Even actors in the movie, as portrayed in The Disaster Artist, talk about how they don't quite know what it's supposed to be about. Here, I'll just give you the iMDB.com synopsis:
Johnny is a successful banker who lives happily in a San Francisco townhouse with his fiancée, Lisa. One day, inexplicably, she gets bored with him and decides to seduce his best friend, Mark. From there, nothing will be the same again.
That's about the best you're going to get as far as that goes. Suffice it to say, its score on MetaCritic (based on 5 reviews) is a 9 out of 100; it's Rotten Tomatoes score (based on 27 reviews) is 27%. People now flock to midnight screenings of this movie like it's The Rocky Horror Picture Show, turning it into a cult classic that's actually turned a profit.
The Disaster Artist is the story of how this movie came to be -- and it clearly has plenty of fans in Hollywood itself, what with James Franco as writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau; Dave Franco as his best friend and costar Greg Sestero; and Seth Rogen as Sandy, the script supervisor. James and Dave Franco may be brothers actually playing best friends here, but this movie has some amazing makeup and costuming, because the two never look at all related here.
The supporting cast includes a bunch of recognizable names in parts of varying sizes, including Alison Brie, Jacki Weaver, Josh Hutcherson, Megan Mullally -- even Zac Efron shows up, so well costumed as one of the cast members that I didn't even realize he was in this film until I looked at the cast list after I got home.
All of these people are great, but James Franco is a revelation as Tommy, the hilariously enigmatic movie maker with the bizarre accent and grammatically weird dialect, who consistently insists he's younger than he could possibly be. He's so deluded it moves into the realm of being endearing. And there's actually something sweet, maybe even authentic, about the bond of friendship between him and Greg.
You may wonder how well they recreate the scenes from The Room here. I've never even seen that movie and I can tell you they are immaculately recreated: the ending treats us to split screen presentations of scenes from both this film and The Room. It's actually the most amazing part of The Disaster Artist, and kind of a thrill to watch.
The climactic scene at the movie's premiere is where The Disaster Artist becomes a little much. Could the audience really have loved it as much as depicted here, so immediately, upon its very first viewing? Maybe it was -- I wasn't there -- but it seems a little overdone. In spite of that, The Disaster Artist is an eminently entertaining film whether you've actually seen The Room or not.