Review: ‘Disaster Artist’ entertaining, surprisingly sincere look at making dreams come true

When watching 2003’s “The Room,” between fits of laughter at seeing such a terribly written and acted movie play out, one can only ask how such a movie ever came into existence? “The Disaster Artist” gives us insight into that burning question. “Disaster Artist” could easily have been a series of cheap and easy shots at the film it’s based on, piling on to the mountains of ridicule the movie already shoulders. Instead, it does something more. It shows in a touching and honest way how it came to be, the aspirations behind it, and ultimately results in a wonderful journey of a film.

James Franco directs and stars as Tommy Wiseau, the ever-enigmatic center of “The Room.” With an odd accent, and a refusal to tell anyone his real age or where he’s from, Tommy is a man imbued with an unstoppable confidence, and every reason in the world to not have that confidence to begin with. He wails “Stella!” at a play-acting workshop, throwing a chair around and interrupting his scene partner, and as the class looks on in horror, Tommy only believes he has equaled Marlon Brando himself.

After this workshop, he’s befriended by actor Greg Sestoros (Dave Franco). Greg and Tommy form a bond, Greg is drawn in by the mysterious and confident Tommy, and Tommy needs Greg’s friendship when nobody else will get near him. Neither can make headway acting in Hollywood, so Tommy decides to just skip the casting directors and studios and finance the movie himself. And thus begins the rumblings of the trainwreck that viewers will find themselves unable to take their eyes off of.

“The Disaster Artist” makes us question what makes art art. For Tommy Wiseau, he made the movie he set out to make, it’s screened across the world, it’s made its money back. He accomplished what he set out to do. He made the movie he wanted to make. It’s not viewed as a masterpiece by anyone other than himself, but how much does that matter? It’s these questions “The Disaster Artist” raise that elevate it to something more, to something other than the cheap comedy it easily could have been. No matter one’s interest in creating art, “Disaster” is still absolutely a must-see. Just make sure to watch “The Room” first.

Loper rating: I give “The Disaster Artist” 4.4 Tommy Wiseaus out of 5

The Shape of Water,” drama, starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon and Octavia Spencer

A cleaning lady at a government facility befriends a water monster. The story is simple, it’s heartfelt and it’s beautifully made.

Loper rating: 4 creatures from the black lagoon out of 5. It isn’t director Guillermo del Toro’s best, but it’s well worth seeing.