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Hahaha, what a story! | A review and reflection on The Disaster Artist

mike | 12/15/2017

Years ago when we first started Tilted Chair, deep down the rabbit hole in the comments of a reddit post, I clicked a YouTube link proclaiming to be a clip from a movie called The Room. I say “proclaiming” because in that moment I wasn’t sure what I was watching. On top of a bed of serious music, a most-peculiar looking man with long dark hair enters a flower shop that inexplicably contains a dog sitting on the counter. What follows are a series of lines that overlap so strangely that any first-time viewer is bound to click replay, just to confirm what they watched was actually the movie’s intention and not a software bug with YouTube. My wonder quickly turned to laughter. The scene seems to take itself 100% seriously, and it’s so “bad” (quotes intentional; more on that later) it’s hilarious.

Walking into the office the next day, I excitedly loaded up a compilation clip from the movie and showed my partners (this being nearly 8 years ago—there were only 4 of us in the entire company). As they tried to process what they just watched, I provided what little color I could find about the movie:

  • The peculiar-looking Actor is named Tommy Wiseau, and he’s also the director, writer, and financier of the movie
  • The movie was already old being released in 2003, but it had gained a cult-following
  • The movie cost an estimated 6 million dollars, and that all came out of Wiseau’s pocket
  • No, we don’t know where his 6 million dollars came from
  • Yes, it was supposed to be serious, but Wiseau had more recently called it a “dark comedy”

What followed was a group viewing of the full film, and years of injecting quotes from The Room into our conversations (using Wiseau’s European accent of course). They were always good for a laugh and in a Seinfeldiean sort of way, there just always seemed to be a quote that could fit any conversation.

Eight years later, I have just watched James Franco’s movie about the movie called The Disaster Artist. Considering my journey over the last eight years with Tilted Chair, it was only fitting that next to me sat my friend and business partner, Jamie. I think I can safely say we were closest fans of The Room, and it only seemed fitting that we watch this together.

I’ll just start off and say it: The Disaster Artist was amazing and is sure to go down as one of my favorite movies ever. If you’ve seen The Room, you might go into the movie with the same mindset as me: Tommy Wiseau somehow acquired more money than sense, and made a movie so bad it’s funny. But what followed for the next hour and forty-three minutes was a story of friendship and ambition that I think nearly everyone can relate to. In the movie, Greg (played by Dave Franco) is so impressed with Tommy Wiseau’s (expertly played by James Franco) lack of fear in an improv class, that he strikes up a conversation asking for help with his acting. The two quickly become friends and move out to LA together to try and make it as actors. After commiserating with each other on the endless rejection they were experiencing, Greg wishes they could just make their own movie, a thought that Wiseau thinks is a great idea and something they should do.

That movie of course is what becomes The Room, and while The Disaster Artist is a hilarious comedy throughout, it gives the audience a view into Wiseau’s mind that isn’t easily seen by simply watching his movie or seeing his often-strange interviews on YouTube. It’s easy to focus on Tommy’s eccentric character traits, but The Disaster Artist truly paints the picture of someone who will stop at nothing to follow his dream. No one willing to cast you in THEIR movie? OK, make one. No Script? Write one. Lead actor? Be one. The movie’s climax is the debut screening of The Room which includes the actors from the movie and a surprisingly full audience. While Wiseau believes he’s presenting something serious, the audience and actors move through a range of emotions from disbelief to laughter.

It’s easy to laugh at Wiseau. He made a movie so bad that it’s good. But is it really bad? I think any director or actor would consider their career a success if they made or acted in a movie that sold out for YEARS after its release. And how many movies are viewed over and over again like The Room? Lastly, how many people have movies made about them, especially while they’re still alive? Wiseau has a lot to be proud of and from what I can see today, he is. I think it was only fitting that I finished this movie next to my friend and business partner, Jamie. We too followed our dream, and I’m sure we created a few disasters along the way. But over time, I think we’ve created some things that are pretty good as well.

The Disaster Artist: A movie so good it’s good, about a movie so bad it’s good, that makes you respect art that is good regardless of the journey it took to get there.


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