Hey everyone! I hope you’re all doing great 🙂
So you’ve probably heard of the movie The Disaster Artist featuring James Franco, Dave Franco and Seth Rogen by now. It recounts the story of one the worst movies ever made, The Room, and the people working on it. If not, here’s the trailer.
The Room was supposed to be this super dramatic movie about love and betrayal, though it actually became the most insane comedy of all time, which turned it into a cult movie. Everything about it (the acting, directing, writing, etc) is atrocious and the person behind it all, Tommy Wiseau, is the most unbelievable human being to ever walk this Earth. It’s basically Tommy’s delusional mind and mysterious identity that make The Room, as well as The Disaster Artist, such fascinating pieces of art.
But is the latter worth it?
This review is completely spoiler-free.
- Title: The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made
- Author: Greg Sestero & Tom Bissell
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Publication Date: May 19th, 2014
- Duration: 11:38
The Disaster Artist tells the story of both Greg Sestero, an actor and line-producer (don’t ask) in The Room, and Tommy Wiseau, its writer, director, producer, leading actor, etc etc. It recounts the events prior and during the movie’s production, including how Sestero and Wiseau met under peculiar circumstances, becoming one of the most iconic duos in the history of bad film-making. Watch the book trailer.
I knew Greg Sestero had decided to write a book about his insane experience working on The Room with Tommy Wiseau. Being a HUGE fan of the movie, I’d been meaning to read it for a very long time, but never actually got to it. With the The Disaster Artist movie soon to be released, however, and knowing I would want to watch it, I decided it was time to finally read it.
One wouldn’t be able to tell Sestero was a funny guy from his performance in The Room, but if you’ve watched a couple of his interviews, you’ll kind of get it. Still, he was able to surprise me.
I laughed, a lot. Harder than I thought would be possible. You could tell he was fighting doing it a few times himself, just because of how ridiculous the story had gotten. And when I mean ridiculous, I mean absolutely ridiculous. He couldn’t help the occasional chuckle, though.
I really liked how humble, honest and down-to-earth Sestero is. He tells his story in a very factual manner, never gloating or bringing too much attention to himself. He knows the star of this whole thing is Tommy, and he embraces his secondary, kind of sidekick role beautifully. He admits he’s not a great person at times, and that he’s as much at fault as the person who wronged him. He also owns up to his decisions and their outcome, not blaming anyone else.
His moments with Tommy are hysterical, to say the least. Tommy truly sounds like a cartoon character living in the real world and interacting with him can bring as much joy as it does migraines. It’s very hard to communicate with him, because as Sestero tells it: “Tommy lives on his own planet” and no one else is allowed in. He makes an exception for Sestero, however, and that’s when hilarity ensues.
Sestero’s impressions are spot-on. He can imitate Tommy so well, I felt I was listening to the man himself. And if you know Tommy Wiseau, you’ll know his voice, accent and complete disregard for normal human intonations comprise 80% of his charm. His extreme lack of self-awareness and insane methodologies are the other 20%.
Reading about Sestero and how much he failed at life, but also learned from it, was quite refreshing. Despite everything he went through, all the “no”s he got throughout his career, the discouragement he encountered (even from his own mother), he persevered and is now quite famous – if, however, for some very different reasons.
During his reading, he was able to distance himself from the “actor” and really come off as this all-American kid anyone can somehow relate to. His friendship with Tommy is both inconceivable and extremely endearing, going so far as to compare it to “two superhero rivals” – which is surprisingly accurate. It’s fascinating to see how much both influenced each other’s lives and how The Room’s infamous glory affected them.
If you’ve seen The Room, you’ll know no one in that movie is a particularly gifted actor. Greg Sestero is no exception. He’s not a particularly gifted narrator, either. So while I did like his familiar voice to transport me back to The Room, I don’t think he’s the best person for the job.
The way he reads the quotes at the beginning of each chapter makes it a confusing and awkward transition. He also fails to deliver the punchlines (which are actually quite clever), rendering them absolutely humorless. Blink, and you’ll miss them entirely.
He’s not a writer either, which explains Tom Bissell, a journalist, being credited in the making of this. Still, I don’t think he was sufficient to make The Disaster Artist a solid piece of literature. It’s not that it’s too badly written, but it does have its instances of purple prose.
Also, the going back and forth between past and future did break my focus a bit. I’d be wholly invested in what I was reading, only to be thrown back into some tedious flashback. This was supposed to be about the making of The Room, but Greg and Tommy’s (auto)biographies were thrown in for good measure. Both of which could have been handled better.
Tommy and Greg’s tale is a hilarious one, but also incredibly sad. Something I was not really prepared for and therefore, struggled to enjoy.
I did love the first part of this audiobook, but the second one became pretty gloomy, pretty fast. It was also a bit boring, to be perfectly honest. I do think some scenes were necessary to explain why Tommy and Greg acted a certain way and, of course, to set the mood for the rest of the story. But others felt more like fillers than anything else. Greg’s story was particularly uninteresting and it didn’t add much to his personality.
By the end, I felt as exhausted and frustrated as Greg himself probably felt back then. Listening to Tommy’s voice drone on in my ear (literally) and leech my energy out was not super fun, and I felt this look into his earlier life, in particular, made the whole thing loose some of its magic. It also didn’t bring any sort of conclusion to many of the questions aroused during the story; only more speculation.
While I was truly excited to read this, it fell short of my expectations. I loved the first half of The Disaster Artist: it was hilarious, fun, charming, clever, and made me remember why I was such a big fan of The Room in the first place. It made me laugh joyfully at every turn. The second half, however, was marred by this gloomy atmosphere that was neither complimentary nor truly necessary, at times.
Although I respect Sestero’s decision to include it in lieu of explanation to some of Wiseau’s most bizarre behaviors, I desperately wanted to read more about the fun parts and less about the depressing ones. I also think there was a lot that could have been taken out without really affecting the story line.
Maybe the book is better, but I think the audiobook will provide a more faithful experience. Sestero is a pleasure to listen to (for the most part) and is awesome at impressions, including his French-speaking mother, which made this a priceless read. I just wish he was equally gifted at storytelling.
Overall, I recommend this one if you’re a fan or curious about what this crazy phenomenon is about. It would also be helpful, but not mandatory, to watch The Room first because, while Sestero does explain a lot of what is going on, I think anyone would still feel pretty clueless going in with no prior knowledge.
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To know more about it, check out the official website.
Thank you so much for reading and until next time!