The Disaster Artist (2017)
A review by Shlomoh Sherman
January 24, 2018

Disaster Artist (2017)
Director: James Franco
Writers: Scott Neustadter (screenplay by), Michael H. Weber (screenplay by)
Stars: James Franco, Dave Franco, Ari Graynor
Plot Synopsis: When Greg Sestero, an aspiring film actor, meets the weird and mysterious Tommy Wiseau in an acting class, they form a unique friendship and travel to Hollywood to make their dreams come true.
Plot Keywords: friendship - acting - bromance - behind the scenes
Genres: Biography - Comedy - Drama
Motion Picture Rating: (MPAA) Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity Parents Guide: View content advisory - SEE BELOW
Morals: One of the morals of the movie is that accomplishing your dream is far from easy.
Country: USA
Language: English
Release Date: December 8, 2017 (USA)
Also Known As: The Masterpiece
Filming Locations: Los Angeles, California, USA
Box Office
Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend USA: $1,211,345, December 3, 2017, Limited Release
Gross USA: $20,747,937, January 22, 2018
Company Credits
Production Co: Good Universe, New Line Cinema, Point Grey Pictures
Technical Specs
Runtime: 104 min
Sound Mix: Dolby Digital - Dolby Atmos - IMAX 6-Track
Color: Color
Nominated for 1 Oscar; another 20 wins and 54 nominations.
See all awards


I first heard about this movie when James Franco brought Tommy Wiseau on Howard Stern's show. At the time, I had never heard of the movie, THE ROOM, although my daughter tells me it's a cult classic much like ROCKY HORROR SHOW. I found Howard's interview with Franco and Wiseau interesting but from the description of the movie theme, I wasn't particularly turn on to see it. When my daughter spoke to me about it, I decided to see DISASTER ARTIST to see what film buffs were raving about.

Briefly this true story is about the meeting and subsequent friendship between two aspiring actors, Greg Sestero and the unconventional, odd, bizarre, outlandish and eccentric Tommy Wiseau.

Tommy convinces Greg that the only way to achieve success as actors is to move to Los Angeles where all the cinema action is happening. Alas, try as they may to break into movies, auditioning for roles, Hollywood rejects them.

Finally, pissed off at casting agents and directors, Tommy tells Greg that he will write, direct, produce and star in their own movie. The movie is THE ROOM, which has attained cult status as the "CITIZEN KANE of bad movies". Thanks to rorybobglynn's review for the use of that last phrase. []

Greg, relieved that he does not have to return to his parent's home in San Francisco as a failure, encourages Tommy, and when the script is finished, Greg is ecstatic.

Not only does Tommy write the script but he actually buys a studio location, including its cameras and all other film-making equipment. Now they are ready to audition actors and hire technical staff.

As the THE ROOM is being filmed, the audience becomes increasingly amazed, not only at the banality and outrageousness of the story line but at the willingness of the cast and crew to abide the condescending and abusive manner in which they are treated by Tommy.

I am a fan of James Franco and looked forward to seeing this movie. I must say that during the early part of the film, I was intrigued by the character of Wiseau as portrayed by Franco. It took me a few minutes to realize that it was Franco who was playing the part. Wiseau's personality is so outre. I have never seen Franco playing such a character. Tommy is weird looking and has an accent of indeterminate origin and his public behavior so unacceptable, that Franco's acting the part took me aback.

Throughout the film, people constantly ask Tommy how old he is, where he comes from originally, and where the money comes from to produce the film. He never divulges any of this so the audience finishes watching the movie without knowing the answers to these questions.

But not until the middle of the film, describing the shoot of THE ROOM, does DISASTER ARTIST rise to its peak of hilarity. Scene after scene, showing the story of THE ROOM and Tommy's bizarre behavior as the lead actor and director, got to me. For practically the rest of the film, I burst out with fits of uncontrollable laughter. It was a bummer that there was no one else with me to enjoy this utter ridiculous yet fascinating movie.

This is part of Jared Curtis' December 8, 2017 review:

The Disaster Artist is absolutely incredible. I don't want to go into detail because honestly this is one of those movies that is best seen relatively blind. What I will say is that the performances are great, the chemistry between Tommy and Greg is pitch perfect, and Seth Rogen and the rest of the supporting cast do an excellent job. The tone of the film is absolutely spot on. The last scene of this movie, and what comes after the end card, absolutely blew me away; this film is so much fun. I just saw this movie, and I already want to see it again. I rarely say this, but I can't think of literally anything this movie could've done differently that would've made it better. Everything it set out to do is done incredibly well. I highly, highly recommend this film.

If you see the movie, please don't leave the theater till the last frame is shown. There are surprises during and after ALL the credits roll.

KUDOS to Dave Franco as Greg Sestero, James' younger brother who receives top billing
KUDOS to James Franco as Tommy Wiseau; the role must have exhausted him even though you can tell he is having so much fun doing it; thanks for his choice to tell Tommy's story
KUDOS for their cameo appearances in the film to:
Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone, Melanie Griffith, Christopher Mintz-Plasse [McLovin from Superbad], Bob Odenkirk [Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul], among many others.
KUDOS to Tommy Wiseau for insisting on a cameo appearance of his own. Read about it at - The Story Behind Tommy Wiseau’s Secret 'Disaster Artist' Cameo (One for Which He Wants a SAG Campaign).

Did You Know?

In real life Greg and Tommy did not move to Los Angeles at the same time. Wiseau offered his LA apartment to Greg rent free for several months, while Tommy came and went from San Francisco at random. Once Greg had booked some small gigs Wiseau suddenly moved in full time to the LA apartment, demanded rent from Greg and set up the divider in the living room as seen in this film.
Greg Sestero stated that when he was writing the book, Tommy Wiseau said that only two actors could play him in the adaptation: James Franco or Johnny Depp. Wiseau, who claims to have once lived in New Orleans, was a fan of Franco's performance in the film Sonny (2002).
James Franco spoke like Tommy Wiseau throughout each day's filming, and even directed using Wiseau's distinctive voice and syntax, though Jason Mantzoukas said that Franco did not direct in character and only spoke like Wiseau. Seth Rogen admitted he had a hard time being directed by Franco while being interviewed on The Howard Stern Show. Rogen said during the first two days, he had a hard time containing his laughter as Franco was speaking as Tommy Wiseau with his notable European accent. Franco told Rogen he would get used to it, which he eventually did. In actuality, Greg Sestero was never offered a part on Malcolm in the Middle (2000) by Bryan Cranston. Also, Cranston did not begin directing for the series until 2003, a year after The Room (2003) wrapped filming. Sestero stated in his book that he had a beard while filming The Room until Tommy Wiseau spontaneously decided he should shave it off for the tuxedo scene, and was hesitant do so because he felt having a beard was his disguise and "a key component of my Room anonymity strategy".
In the film, Greg's love interest, Amber, is played by Dave Franco's real life wife, actress Alison Brie.
Greg Sestero appears in the movie as a casting agent.
The film received a standing ovation after the premiere at the SXSW film festival in March 2017.
James Franco played James Dean in a 2001 television movie biopic. Dean was a huge influence on both Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, and a major bonding point for their early friendship as detailed in the book and shown in this movie. Even the infamous "You're tearing me apart!" moment in The Room (2003) was inspired by Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Years later when James Franco approached Tommy Wiseau to play him Franco learned that he was already a fan of the 2001 James Dean biopic which gave Wiseau the confidence it was the right choice.
Before shooting the sex scene, Tommy mentions Alfred Hitchcock being abusive to his actors on the set of "The Birds". Melanie Griffith, who appears in this film, is the daughter of actress Tippi Hedren, who appeared in "The Birds" and "Marnie" for Hitchock, and who has described that director's behavior as being very possessive and abusive toward her.
In addition to James and Dave Franco in the lead roles, their other brother, Tom Franco, who is an actual artist, has a brief role in the film as Karl.
James Franco stayed in character as Tommy Wiseau in between shots while directing the film.
Greg Sestero's real mother is French not American as portrayed in the film.
The scene where Sandy goes to cash a check from Tommy is the only scene in the film in which neither Tommy nor Greg appear.
Over 20 minutes of The Room was painstakingly recreated for this film, including almost exact body movements and lines spoken at nearly identical timing to the original. The Disaster Artist ends with side-by-side comparisons of these scenes. However, the way in which some lines were poorly dubbed in the original was not recreated.
Robyn Paris stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2008 that most of the audience was "crying with laughter". Sestero also said in Q&A screenings that people who attended were disappointed but amused while some walked out with negative comments.
The standing ovation at the premiere was fictionalized but represents the future reception when the film became a cult hit. The real reaction of the first audience was uncomfortable silence and awkward laughter (described by one actress as "like trying not to laugh in church"), and some people simply walked out of the theater.
When college student Michael Rousselet saw it alone in an empty theater and realized how unintentionally hilarious it was, he called his friends to come watch the next screening and word of mouth quickly spread.
The infamous rooftop scene actually took 32 takes to get right; not a deliberate 67 takes in Franco's version.
At the end of the film, text states that to this day nobody knows how old Wiseau is, where he is from or how he made so much money. In actuality, his naturalization records can be found online that show he was born in Poland on October 3, 1955 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1984 in San Francisco. According to Sestero, he moved to France before immigrating to the United States and changing his name to Thomas Pierre Wiseau (likely from Tomasz Piotr Wieczorkiewicz or Wieczór). Furthermore, a documentary filmmaker discovered he was born in Poznan, Poland. However, it remains a mystery as Wiseau will not confirm these details, and how he became so wealthy is still not known.

Greg Sestero: Tommy, dude, this really isn't necessary.
Tommy Wiseau: No, no! Very necessary. I need to show my ass to sell this picture.

Sandy Schklair: Why is he having sex with her bellybutton? He knows where her vagina is, right?

Sandy Schklair: Ready, and, Action!
[Wiseau opens the rooftop door and steps into the scene. He pauses for several seconds]
Tommy Wiseau: What line? What is the line?
Sandy Schklair: I did not hit her. It's not true. It's bullshit. I did not hit her. I did not. Oh, hi Mark.

Greg Sestero: You are a fucking villain, you fucking Frankenstein-looking motherfucker!

Tommy Wiseau: Los Angeles, everybody want to be star. All the pretty boys. They're lining up for the big shot.
Greg Sestero: Just uh, just have to get lucky, I guess.
Tommy Wiseau: No. No. It's not luck, Greg. Greg, you have to be the best. You have to be the best you can be. And never give up.

Greg Sestero: I wish we could just make our own movie.
Tommy Wiseau: That great idea.

Greg Sestero: It's Bryan fucking Cranston!

Crazy Credits:
There is a scene after the credits where James Franco as Tommy Wiseau has a conversation with Henry, who is played by the real Tommy Wiseau in a cameo.
While Corona's song "Rhythm Of The Night" plays over the credits, you can hear Tommy(Franco) singing along to the song.
With the exception of the title itself, there are no opening credits in this film.

Citizen Kane (1941) - A somewhat mysterious individual seeks his personal fulfillment.
Sunset Boulevard (1950) - The dynamic between Tommy and Greg mirrors that of Norma and Joe.
East of Eden (1955) - Mentioned by Greg when he and Tommy are discussing James Dean's film career.
Rebel Without a Cause (1955) - Mentioned by Greg when he and Tommy are discussing James Dean's film career.
Giant (1956) - Mentioned by Greg when he and Tommy are discussing James Dean's film career.
The Birds (1963) - Tommy discusses Hitchcock being abusive to his actors on the set of this movie. to justify his behavior while shooting the sex scene.
Home Alone (1990) - Greg says that this is the movie that made him want to be an actor.
Beauty and the Beast (1991) - Tommy says to Greg when welcoming him to this apartment "be my guest like Beauty and the Beast."
Malcolm in the Middle (2000) (TV Series) - Bryan Cranston offers Greg a role on the show in an episode Cranston is directing.
Se7en (1995) A poster of it is visible.
Shakespeare in Love (1998) - Tommy and Greg drive by the premiere.
Ready to Rumble (2000) - a poster of it is visible
Bait (2000) - A poster of it is visible.
Thir13en Ghosts (2001) - The poster is visible during one of Tommy's auditions.
Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones (2002) - Judd Apatow mentions "Attack of the Clones" in his cameo.

It Won't Be Me Written by Jennifer Bone, Andrew Gonzales & Francine Reed Performed by Francine Reed Courtesy of Fervor Records
Miles Away Written and Performed by Craig Marsden Courtesy of Fervor Records
Never Gonna Give You Up Written by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken (as Matthew Aitken) & Pete Waterman (as Peter Waterman) Performed by Rick Astley Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment UK Limited By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
It Takes Two Written by Rob Base (as Robert Ginyard Jr.) & James Brown Performed by Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock Courtesy of Arista Records By arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
Contains sample of "Think (About It)" Performed by Lyn Collins Courtesy of Republic Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Good Vibrations Written by Donnie Wahlberg, Mark Wahlberg, Amir Shakir & Dan Hartman Performed by Mark Wahlberg (as Marky Mark) & The Funky Bunch Courtesy of Interscope Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Finally Written by Ce Ce Peniston, Felipe Delgado, Rodney Jackson & E.L. Linnear Performed by Ce Ce Peniston (as CeCe Peniston) Courtesy of A&M Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Rhythm of the Night Written by Pete Glenister (as Peter Glenister), Francesco Bontempi, Michael Gaffey, Annerley Gordon & Giorgio Spagna Performed by Corona Courtesy of Warner Music U.K. Ltd. & Extravaganza Publishing SRL By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
What You Want Written by Mase (as Mason Betha), Sean Combs (as Sean Puffy Combs), Curtis Mayfield, Nashiem Myrick and Keisha Spivey Performed by Mase feat. Total Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corp. / Bad Boy Records By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
Outside Looking In Written and Performed by Eric V. Hachikian Courtesy of EVH Arts, Inc.
Can't Get You Out of My Head Written by Rob Davis (as Robert Davis) & Cathy Dennis Performed by Kylie Minogue Courtesy of Parlophone Records Ltd. By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
Epic Written by Mike Bordin (as Michael Bordin), Roddy Bottum, Jim Martin (as James Martin), Billy Gould (as Bill Gould) & Mike Patton Performed by Faith No More Courtesy of Slash Records / Warner Music U.K. Ltd. By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing
Cielito Written by Salvador Garcia, Luis Hernandez, Manuel Toledo & Traditional Courtesy of Extreme Music
Eternal Memories Written by Anselm C. Kreuzer (as Anselm Keuzer) Courtesy of APM Music


Motion Picture Rating: (MPAA) Rated R for language throughout and some sexuality/nudity

Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) is shown nude while filming a sex scene. While his penis is covered, it's covered with a prosthetic, paper mache penis. He roams the set like this for about one minute.
Naked male bottom for extended periods of time.
Simulated (comical) sex scene, with thrusting. Tommy straddles a woman on the bed with no pants on.
On a casting for the female lead, Tommy has an actress simulate licking ice cream in an animated way (which the joke is that it looks like they're making her simulate fellatio).

In the real movie, Tommy's character kills himself. This is seen in the trailer and most likely will be done in a comedic effect.
After talking to Greg and Greg's girlfriend, Amber, Tommy is furious and hits a few newspaper stands. This is done for comedy.
We briefly see the scene where Tommy's character kills himself in the film; the audience urges him to "do it" while laughing and cheer when he finally pulls the trigger. We also briefly see the image from the film with the blood splattered behind Tommy's corpse.

64 uses of f*ck, 8 of sh*t (including bullsh*t), 4 of b*tch, and 3 of d*mn (one god d*mn).
There is strong language throughout. "F**k" and its derivatives are said many times.

Greg's casting agent, Iris Burton, is shown smoking.

Spoilers - The Parents Guide items below may give away important plot points.
During the midnight premiere of The Room, the audience starts to laugh at how bad it is. Because of that, Tommy rushes out of the auditorium and cries. Greg notices this and tells Tommy "Just because people are laughing at the movie, doesn't mean it's awful."
Tommy tells Greg that one night, a driver ran through a red light and crashed into him causing a near-fatal car crash. Tommy had to be in the hospital for several weeks and decided to follow his dreams and become an actor.

Related News 2018 Oscars acting nominations slugfest: Did the #MeToo movement stop James Franco (‘The Disaster Artist’) for Best Actor?

Fuck the MeToo movement: YAY Al Franken, YAY Louis CK, YAY James Franco

Other reviews of Disaster Artist: - On the Internet Movie Data Base

Read about Disaster Artist On the Internet Movie Data Base

Read my review of THE ROOM HERE

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dave Franco ... Greg / 'Mark'
James Franco ... Tommy / 'Johnny'
Seth Rogen ... Sandy
Ari Graynor ... Juliette / 'Lisa'
Alison Brie ... Amber
Jacki Weaver ... Carolyn / 'Claudette'
Paul Scheer ... Raphael
Zac Efron ... Dan / 'Chris-R'
Josh Hutcherson ... Philip / 'Denny'
June Diane Raphael ... Robyn / 'Michelle'
Megan Mullally ... Mrs. Sestero
Jason Mantzoukas ... Peter
Andrew Santino ... Scott Holmes / 'Mike'
Nathan Fielder ... Kyle Vogt / 'Peter'
Joe Mande ... Todd

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