‘Oh, hi Mark…’
I should start by saying that I’m not really a fan of kitsch cinema. That being, a film so bad that it’s good. A bad film is, more often than not, simply that, a bad film. While I have laughed along at Troll 2 and found some kind of warped enjoyment watching the Star Wars Holiday Special over a glass of whiskey, as a rule I tend to swerve that whole scene.
The Room is arguably the masterpiece of point-and-laugh cinema. The huge budget, the numerous mistakes, the laughable dialogue, all from the mind of the enigmatic director Tommy Wiseau. Nobody knows his true age, his country of origin and certainly not what was going through his mind when he created The Room. James Franco doesn’t really answer any of those questions, but he has a whole lot of fun trying…
Tommy (James Franco) is an aspiring actor who stumbles across Greg (Dave Franco), a fellow struggling thesp. The pair embark on a lifelong friendship that will be tested to the limits by the making of a shambolic film entitled The Room.
There is a sweet spot in the movies where are a charismatic actor has so much fun in a role that the audience can’t help but be swept up by it all. Think Jack Nicholson as the Joker or Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden. James Franco has an absolute blast as Tommy Wiseau but crucially he also ensures that his performance never becomes a caricature. While Wiseau is presented in all his ridiculous glory, it always comes from a place of warm admiration rather than mocking.
A word also for his brother Dave Franco who is excellent as Wiseau’s long suffering buddy Greg. A restrained Seth Rogen and an authoritative Alison Brie head up a talented supporting cast that also includes Ari Graynor and Zac Efron.
James Franco clearly adores The Room and Tommy Wiseau. The whole project in fact feels like a labour of love and this can so often result in a picture with limited niche appeal. Somehow however, Franco has made a film that is accessible, entertaining and hilarious. One of the best films of the last twelve months.