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Sunday, September 19, 2021
From left: Seth Rogen, Dave Franco and James Franco at "The Disaster Artist" premiere.

From left: Seth Rogen, Dave Franco and James Franco at "The Disaster Artist" premiere.

SXSW 2017: James Franco’s ‘The Disaster Artist’ is far from a disaster, receiving standing ovation

On Sunday, James Franco premiered one of the wackiest comedies with “The Disaster Artist.” The film is inspired by the real-life 2003 independent film, “The Room,” that gained a massive cult following for being known as the worst film ever made. James and his brother Dave play Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, the eccentric duo that create and star in the movie, tracking the zany behind-the-scenes process of the outrageous characters. Franco is also the director of “The Disaster Artist,” reinforcing his Hollywood reputation for juggling multiple jobs at once. Wiseau is such a unusual character and it is clear that James relished taking on the role. James fully committed to the part with signature long hair, dazed eyes and the outlandish, unidentifiable accent that had the audience on the verge of tears, doubling over with laughter. "The Disaster Artist" features multiple scenes recreated frame by frame from “The Room," the original shown side by side with the film’s version at the very end. The immense attention to detail shows impressive commitment to such a wacky story.

The bizarre film within a film was all the more peculiar experiencing its premiere at SXSW. The end of the film has “The Room” premiering at a theater with the audience erupting in unexpected laughter (it was meant to play as a drama) with James Franco’s Wiseau and Dave Franco’s Sestero jumping on stage to greet the audience. Once “The Disaster Artist” ended, it was like déjà vu: The Franco brothers, co-star Seth Rogen, and the real Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero greeted the crowd, receiving an enthusiastic standing ovation. The real Wiseau and Sestero were sitting in the audience before the lights dimmed and for Wiseau, this was the first time he saw this comedic biography of his career. The audience flocked over to them, taking selfies, shaking hands and handing them gifts. The Franco brothers and Rogen mentioned the stakes were higher with Wiseau in the theater. James emphasized that the film is a dedication rather than a parody of the original, giving context to its cult adoration. The film was filled with A-list cameos that, according to Franco, were more than willing to be a part of the project because they are fans of Wiseau as well. “It goes to show that everyone loves ‘The Room,’" said James. "They wanted to come out just for one small scene even if they didn’t even talk. They all just wanted to be a part of it.” According to Dave, James directed the cast in full Wiseau character, even when the camera wasn’t rolling, eliciting constant laughter between takes. When asked why the film was still labeled on the itinerary as a “work in progress” even though it got a standing ovation, Rogen retorts, “Then I guess we’re done!”

“The Disaster Artist” is a film that is crazy enough to become a hit. It gently pokes fun at the hardships of breaking into the film industry by introspectively poking fun at Hollywood itself. James’ commitment to the project and the role of Wiseau takes the hysterical film to an entire new level of comedic brilliance.

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