You know what? Screw all the other movies — Call Me By Your Name, Ladybird, The Death of Stalin, all of them. James Franco’s The Disaster Artist is the unrivaled standout at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Everything else is fat. And judging by the deafening standing ovation the flick got at its Midnight Madness premiere last night, the public would seem to concur.
The cast —including James Franco, his brother Dave, Alison Brie, and Ari Graynor — attended the screening at Ryerson Theatre, where fevered fans clutching plastic spoons and toy footballs — nods to the film’s inspiration The Room, “the greatest bad movie ever made” — showed up in hordes in what’s undoubtedly been the festival’s biggest draw.
The legend himself, Tommy Wiseau — director, writer, producer, and star of The Room — walked the red carpet rocking a vest, tie, blazer, jeans, and his trademark assortment of belts. Greg Sestero, who played (oh hai) Mark in Wiseau’s movie, was also in tow, having come straight from a pre-screening party hosted by Audi Canada.
Based on Sestero’s book of the same name, The Disaster Artist is a hysterical and incredible true story that attempts to retrace Wiseau’s steps in creating his famously awful film. James Franco, who both directs and stars, is MIA in the movie — he’s completely lost himself in the role of Wiseau, flawlessly capturing his every eccentricity, from the eyes half-shut gaze to the unplaceable accent to the untraceable logic. An actor intentionally acting poorly — while simultaneously drawing sympathy for this mysterious and misunderstood Hollywood outsider — is a stunning artistic feat. Besides delivering side-splitting laughs, he makes us ask questions about showbiz, artistic intent, and just what it means to do things your own way. Give this dude an Oscar.
Also impressive: the painstaking detail that went into recreating moments from The Room — from the shitty set design to the ill-fitting clothes to the terrible line delivery. (“You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” and “Hai doggie” got some of the loudest pops of the night.) My guess is there’s a scene-by-scene remake of the movie just waiting to be packaged with The Disaster Artist’s DVD release, and I can’t wait to see it. Take my money now.
The standing ovation afterwards lasted for the entirety of the post-screening Q&A — a festival first. Wiseau stole the stage, asking cast members nonsensical questions and occasionally chiding them. (“Ah come on, we had fun, for god’s sake!” he barked at Sestero after the actor said The Disaster Artist was “terrifyingly” true to life.)
Franco, smiling ear to ear, slipped back and forth between his dead-on impression of Wiseau, recalling the original phone call between the two when the film was pitched: “Ah James, I see your stuff. You do some good things, some bad things,” Wiseau apparently said to Franco, before suggesting that Johnny Depp should play him. “If you don’t go down that road, you never know, right?” he told Franco.
— Rebecca Ford (@Beccamford) September 12, 2017
It’s a good thing they never got Depp on the horn. James Franco — Wiseau’s second choice to play him — is perfect in the role. It may be the role of his career. And anyone who disagrees can leave their stupid comments in their pocket.