The reviews for The Disaster Artist are as glowing as they were dreadful for The Room, and that’s saying something.
The Room, in case you aren’t familiar with it, is often called the worst movie ever made. The Disaster Artist, actor-filmmaker James Franco’s reenactment of the making of The Room, screened at the Toronto International Film Festival this week to near-unanimous rave reviews. It provoked a similarly rapturous response when it debuted at South by Southwest earlier this year. It will be released in the US on Dec. 1.
Franco himself stars as Tommy Wiseau, the brooding and mysterious figure who in 2003 self-financed and starred in The Room, a film that has now become a cult hit, infamous for its unfathomably bizarre and amateurish style. The plot of Wiseau’s film was incomprehensible, its characters ridiculous, and its acting hilariously stilted.
Based on the book of the same name by actor Greg Sestero, who befriended Wiseau and co-starred in The Room, The Disaster Artist follows the friendship of Sestero (played by Franco’s younger brother, Dave Franco) and Wiseau, as they set out to make the film.
Seth Rogen plays the script supervisor whose impossible task it is to keep Wiseau and The Room on track. The film also features a number of celebrity cameos, including JJ Abrams, Bryan Cranston, and Wiseau himself.
The Disaster Artist, according to most reviews, doesn’t mock of The Room or turn Wiseau into a caricature. Rather, critics say the film is an earnest portrait of a man trying to fulfill his lifelong dream—one that’s “subtle,” “poignant,” “sweet,” Oscar-worthy, and still “wildly funny.”
That makes The Disaster Artist just about the polar opposite of the film it’s about. Here’s how reviews for the two films stack up:
|Reviews for “The Room”||Reviews for “The Disaster Artist”|
|Variety: “A movie that prompts most of its viewers to ask for their money back.”||Variety: [Boasts] a genuine capacity to delight.|
|FilmCritic: “It’s hard to describe how bad the acting in The Room is.”||The Playlist: “It’s James Franco’s best performance since his Oscar-nominated turn in 127 Hours.”|
|Playback STL: “If you experience brain damage as a result of watching this film, I disavow any responsibility whatsoever.”||The Verge: “Not only the rare example of a genuinely funny biopic, but a subtle meta-commentary on the state of cult filmmaking.”|
|PopMatters: “In the dynasty of dung, among the many pretenders to the best worst movie throne, Tommy Wiseau and his oddly named tragedy truly earns their rotten rep.”||The Globe and Mail: “A shockingly poignant portrait of the jealousies that arise when the creative process goes haywire.”|
|KPBS: “It’s so very bad that it becomes riveting.”||Consequence of Sound: “It’s a hilarious master class in self-referentiality, as well as an affectionate and reverential tribute to Tommy Wiseau and his mad creation.”|
|The Sunday Times: “What distinguishes The Room from other celebrated screen turkeys is the fact that this self-financed flick’s shortcomings go way beyond the standard array of glaring continuity errors, dodgy sets and stagnant editing.”||Collider: “Franco takes what could have easily been a parody and make Wiseau into a real, three-dimensional person who not only makes us laugh with all of his eccentricities, but also gets us to care about his loneliness and insecurities.”|
|The Guardian: “A movie whose transcendent awfulness has made it a cult phenomenon.”||The Guardian: “Franco has assembled a painstaking recreation and a detailed exploration into a story that might never have been told.”|
|Flavorwire: “Anyone who watches more than five minutes of The Room will know exactly what kind of Deeply Serious Statement its maker was attempting, and failed at miserably.”||Hollywood Reporter: “James Franco scores on both sides of the camera in this wildly funny Ed Wood-esque ode to great, bad moviemaking.”|
|Oregonian: “Sadly serves as an example that not everyone should follow their bliss.”||Mashable: “[Franco] turned what could have been a sour story about an unsettling, delusional protagonist into ultimately a sweet paean to the idea of making movies with friends.”|
|AV Club: “At the core of all this superfluous nonsense is genuine, unmistakable, nakedly personal pain: Somebody out there hurt Wiseau badly, and The Room is his attempt to come to terms with it. His conclusion? Women are terrible, irrational, manipulative creatures who get off on toying with the hearts of good men.”||Business Insider: “The Disaster Artist is the most fun you’ll have at the movies this year, and James Franco should get Oscar attention.”|
Variety (The Room) | Variety (The Disaster Artist) | FilmCritic | Playback STL | PopMatters | KPBS | The Sunday Times | The Guardian (The Room) | The Guardian (The Disaster Artist) | Flavorwire | The Oregonian | AV Club | The Playlist | The Verge | The Globe and Mail | Consequence of Sound | Collider | Hollywood Reporter | Mashable | Business Insider