‘The Disaster Artist’ Reviews: What The Critics Are Saying

John Christopher Amodo
PUBLISHED December 6, 2017 11:42 am
Photo from Warner Bros. Entertainment

(Inside Manila) Award-winning film “The Disaster Artist” sees James Franco in his best performance yet since his Oscar-nominated turn in 2010 biographical survival film “127 hours,” which, along with its storytelling and other key elements, amassed positive reviews from top critics.


The film follows the real-life story of writer-director Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and the behind-the-scenes antics and eventual cult success of his 2003 film “The Room,” or more commonly referred to as “The Citizen Kane of Bad Movies.” Here, Franco reunites with several past co-stars like Seth Rogen, his brother Dave, Randall Park, and Zac Efron among others.


Currently, James Franco’s “The Disaster Artist” stands with a surprising 94% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 147 reviews with an average rating of 7.7/10, and with most critics caught in between feelings as the poignant and charming movie-about-a-movie unfolds the creative process with unforeseen delicacy.


Curious? Check out what the critics are saying before the movie hits local theaters:


RollingStone’s Peter Travers:


“If getting your jollies off of Wiseau’s follies was the only thing that mattered, ‘The Disaster Artist’ wouldn’t be much of a movie so much as a series of mocking comic moments. But Franco and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (‘500 Days of Summer,’ ‘The Fault in Our Stars’) are after something more crucial to the creative process. Even when ‘The Room’ becomes a cult hit, with audiences shouting the dialogue back at the screen a la ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show,’ Franco and the writers doesn’t cheat on the hurt. Instead, they make their hero a martyr for anyone who longs to make art without the minimum requirements for the job.”


“And as a director, Franco succeeds beautifully at bringing coherence to chaos, a word that accurately describes the making of this modern midnight-movie phenomenon. Do you need to see The Room to appreciate ‘The Disaster Artist?’ Not really. The recreations of key scenes from that kitsch classic are shot with stunningly tacky verisimilitude and played to the scrappy hilt by an up-for-anything cast, including Zac Efron, Ari Graynor, Josh Hutcherson and Jacki Weaver. These merry pranksters make sure that this movie is a comic bonanza that deserves to form its own cult. But it’s James Franco who hits a new career peak as actor and director by making sure his film is as heartfelt as it is hilarious. ‘The Disaster Artist’ is his baby. But the movie beautifully pays tribute to both their talents.”


Slate’s Dana Stevens:


“In ‘The Disaster Artist,’ he nails Wiseau’s strange, slurred speech patterns, unplaceable foreign accent, and air of recalcitrant mystery. Even more impressively, Franco makes Wiseau, maybe the most unpleasant character he’s ever played, someone you genuinely root for in his demented quest for greatness.”


“The case could be made that ‘The Disaster Artist’ is a little too sunny for a movie about a clearly damaged man whose lifelong drive to create something beautiful only led to his becoming a symbol of grand-scale failure. But in addition to making me laugh, hard, at a time when cathartic laughter is all but a medical necessity, this portrait of the artist as a not-so-young weirdo struck me as peculiarly moving.”


IndieWire’s Ben Travers:


“A lot of the responsibility to convince viewers of the film’s authenticity falls to Franco. As Tommy, he is the strange, unknowable presence at the center of both ‘The Disaster Artist’ and ‘The Room,’ and audiences need to believe this is a real person rather than a caricature. He’s both captivating and alienating at once. No one understands him, not even Greg, and there’s no forced exposition or even implied background to help you believe such a person could really exist.


“As ‘The Disaster Artist’ progresses, you notice the separation in his performance: Franco allows himself to play into the jokes when Tommy is off-camera, and he rejects all of his comedic instincts when filming scenes from ‘The Room.’ That allows Tommy to be truly funny in order to serve the comedy written into ‘The Disaster Artist.’ Franco can hit a joke as Tommy, even though Tommy can’t land a punchline on camera to save his life. As Rogen’s character says in the movie, “It would be weird for Tommy to do something that’s not weird.”


The Atlantic’s David Sims:


“It’s all hilarious to watch, and James Franco knows Wiseau is a figure of fun for the film while Sestero, played with well-meaning sweetness by his brother Dave, is the audience surrogate. But the director understands something else—Wiseau is a ‘star’ in the truest sense of the word, someone you can’t take your eyes off whenever he appears. Wiseau’s odd appeal is the only reason anything in ‘The Disaster Artist’ is remotely believable, even though it’s based on a true story. James Franco is magnetic in the role, so committed to precisely replicating Wiseau’s unique presence, that you understand why so many people went along for the ride with him.”


“Fans of ‘The Room’ will find much to love here, but even if you’ve never heard of it, ‘The Disaster Artist’ should delight. Franco’s movie is ultimately a chronicle of the genesis of great art—namely a work even its creator didn’t fully understand, and whose popularity few could have ever imagined.


However, there’s still a few “rotten” reception:


New Yorker’s Richard Brody:


“The comedy, for all its scenes of giddy wonder, never gets past Tommy’s mask of mystery; avoiding speculation and investigation, it stays on the surface of his public and private shtick, leaving little more than a trail of amusing anecdotes.”


Watch the trailer here:


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