I’ll never forget the first time I saw The Room, arguably the worst movie ever made. (It’s up against Manos: The Hands of Fate, a spectacularly bad movie.) I was in college and a friend was talking about this terrible movie playing at a theater in Fairfax, going on and on about how bad it was. Everyone looked at me, known Purveyor of Bad Movies and hostess of monthly Trashterpiece Classics screenings, where I subjected a willing audience to the worst movies I could find, like Meet The Feebles— puppet porn from Peter Jackson, you really shouldn’t miss it—and Fire & Ice, a German movie about ski dancing. So, of course, I had to go see this movie that was, “No seriously, WAY worse than you can imagine.”
It was, indeed, WAY worse than I could imagine—so bad the theater wouldn’t refund walk outs and pulled it almost immediately. The nicest thing you can say about The Room is that it’s earnest—writer/director/producer/star Tommy Wiseau genuinely wanted to make a movie, he just had no f*cking clue how to do it. (Wiseau now claims he meant to make The Room so terrible, but he clearly did not, if you remember the early days of The Room gaining cult status.) A movie this bad is destined for cult devotion, and sure enough, The Room has joined Manos and Space Mutiny and the works of Len Kabasinski as the subject of a devoted cult film fandom. There have been RiffTrax screenings and Rocky Horror Picture Show-style audience participation, and then, in 2013 there was a book, The Disaster Artist. Co-written by The Room star Greg Sestero, it paints an entertaining and illuminating picture of not only the making of the movie, but of Wiseau himself.
And now we have The Disaster Artist, a movie about the making of one of the worst movies of all time. It’s from Seth Rogen and James Franco, who directs the film and also stars as Wiseau. The teaser trailer is here and GODDAMN does it look GOOD. “Oh hi Mark” is one of the most famous (bad) line readings in modern film, and Franco nails it, and Wiseau’s vaguely-Eastern-European-but-not-quite-anything accent. Rogen and his creative partner, Evan Goldberg, are involved as producers, and Rogen also stars as Sandy Schklair, The Room’s script supervisor and maybe uncredited director.
If you think The Disaster Artist is just a James Franco lark—no. It’s distributed by A24 with a release date set in December. A24 previously guided Ex Machina and Moonlight to Oscar glory, and it’s also supporting A Ghost Story this year. They’re a serious player in prestige fare, and they’re setting up The Disaster Artist with a prime award season slot. And the cast is bonkers, including not only Rogen and Franco, but Dave Franco (as Greg Sestero), Alison Brie, Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone, Kristen Bell, and Zac Efron, plus a ton of people playing themselves, like Lizzy Caplan and JJ Abrams.
I fully expect to see The Disaster Artist on the fall festival circuit, and I can’t wait to see what kind of Oscar campaign it mounts. The Room has a lot of Academy fans, and Hollywood can’t resist movies about movies, even when they’re bad movies. I really want to live in a world where a movie like The Disaster Artist goes up against a boring history lecture like Dunkirk.