Book & Movie Review: The Disaster Artist

So, I know I do a lot of book reviews, but I also want to add some movie reviews to this blog! Since I'm making a lot more videos recently--and because my favorite blog post and YouTube vlogs tend to be for movie reviews--I think it's important that I contribute some movie reviews as well! What better way to segue into this than by reviewing a movie that is also a book?

Without further ado, here is my review of The Disaster Artist...both the movie and the book!

My feelings on The Disaster Artist can be summed up in four very simple, very cliche words: "The book was better."

However, that's a huge oversimplification of how I felt about both the book and the movie. So let me start off by saying that I genuinely loved both of them. But yes, the book was better.

Since I would call myself somewhat of a weird cult movie connoisseur, The Disaster Artist is one of my favorite books. Getting to see the odd stories behind objectively bad, but subjectively entertaining movies is so interesting to me. Tyler and I occasionally host Cult Movie Parties at our apartment, where we watch everything from more well-known weird movies like The Room and Troll 2, to featuring more obscure cult directors like Neil Breen and Vitaliy Versace. Of course, Tommy Wiseau is probably the king of these cult directors, and he was the subject of our first party in 2016.

So, for those of you who don't know the story of The Disaster Artist, it's a book that explores the mysterious man that is Tommy Wiseau, and his odd friendship with actor Greg Sestero that led to the making of the cult classic The Room in 2003. The book is written by Greg Sestero, who plays the iconic character of Mark in The Room, along with journalist Tom Bissell.

This book is nothing short of brilliant. Through Greg's outside perspective, it gives us a closer look at Tommy's weird worldview. While no one knows the details of Tommy's past definitively, a section of the book does a pretty amazing speculation, based on Tommy's current actions. 

Basically, it's likely that Tommy was born in Eastern Europe in the 50s or 60s, and heard rumors of being able to go to America and "become a movie star." Fascinated with this American dream, he fled Europe as a child and went to live in New Orleans. Then, he moved to San Francisco sometime in the late 70s, and sold toy birds on the streets to make money. Eventually, he started up a fashion knockoff business, made tons of money, invested that money into San Francisco real-estate, became a millionaire, and then took that fortune to pursue his original American dream: to become a movie star. 

Rejected by all major Hollywood casting agencies, brushed aside for his weird accent, weird villainous aesthetic, and overall weird mannerisms, Tommy decided to take his money and make his own movie, taking an unconventional path to becoming a movie star, in his own way. Though his movie turned out horrible, its utter weirdness has left it as a classic, and has made Tommy a star for years to come.

The book explores what it means to pursue The American Dream against all odds. It explores what it means to want something so badly, that you'll take the any possible path to get there. It explores the mind of a strange artist and possible madman. But overall, it inspires all artists and creators out there not to give up--even in the face of rejection, there is hope for you. You can find a way to make your creation and get your voice into the world, no matter how strange or convoluted that way may be.

When the release date for The Disaster Artist movie was announced for December 1, 2017, I was beyond excited. I'd been following production updates since around 2015. I was so excited to see James Franco play Tommy Wiseau--since James Franco is a weird artist type himself, I knew he could pull it off!

And he did! James Franco's portrayal of Tommy Wiseau is probably the best part of the movie. He absolutely nailed the role. Every time he opened his mouth, I was left laughing and smiling.

I don't have much to say about the cinematography and editing, which mostly consist of very basic handheld camera techniques and shot-reverse-shot patterns. There's nothing offensive about it, but nothing memorable about it either.

Probably, my biggest negative of the movie is that it left out so much of the important information from the book. Now, I know that sounds like a really overused argument, BUT hear me out. Obviously the movie couldn't include EVERYTHING from the book, but it definitely could've framed itself in a way that it prioritized the most important parts of the story. Really, what this movie was lacking was Tommy's emotional investment. 

It's missing that portrayal of Tommy, an Eastern European in love with America, in denial about the fact that he wasn't born here, working his entire life to realize the vague American dream of "becoming a movie star." It's missing his years spent selling toy birds on the streets of San Francisco to make money, instead brushing it off with a title card saying "no one knows how Tommy made his money." Now, since Tommy is very secretive about his past, it's very possible that he did not allow Franco to include any of this information in the movie. So that may have been unavoidable.

Mostly, what the movie was lacking was that heart that the book had--that inspirational message that no matter how weird you are, or how objectively bad you are at acting, or how different your worldview is from the majority of people around you, if you are passionate enough about something, you WILL find a way to make it happen.

Without that message, the movie was essentially reduced to a James Franco comedy. Which, don't get me wrong, that's not a BAD thing. I laughed continuously throughout the entire movie. I can't remember laughing that hard at a movie in a long time. It's one of the genuinely best comedies that's been made--in my opinion--in decades. But unfortunately, a comedy is pretty much all it is. It doesn't have that extra layer, that extra depth that the book had. 

So, if you see the movie The Disaster Artist, you will have a fabulous time. You will smile and laugh so hard your face hurts. But it won't change your life. It won't make you reexamine your perspective on anything, and it won't inspire you. If you read the book, you'll gain a new perspective on a strange, misunderstood man, and follow an incredible journey of weird cult filmmaking.

Have you read this book or seen this movie? What were your thoughts? Do you want to see more movie reviews on this blog? Let me know in the comments!



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