A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Disaster Artist is a dramedy based on the true story of filmmaker Tommy Wiseau and actor Greg Sestero (played by brothers James and Dave Franco) and the making of their infamous 2003 cult hit The Room. While the movie could easily have ridiculed its characters, instead it celebrates their attempt, and it's very funny and touching. But it also has extremely strong language, with uses of "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "c---sucking," and more. There's also near full-frontal male nudity (the character wears something protective on his penis) and a naked male bottom, plus a simulated sex scene performed for the movie-within-the-movie. Expect a little flirting and innuendo, too, as well as plenty of shouting and arguing. A gun is shown, and a simulated suicide is performed for the cameras. Adults drink socially in a bar.
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What's the story?
In THE DISASTER ARTIST, young San Francisco actor Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) takes classes and dreams of the big time. During one class, he's blown away by the intensity and fearlessness of Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) and asks Tommy to be his acting partner. The two become fast friends and move to Los Angeles together. After a few years of trying and failing in show business, they get an idea: They'll make their own movie. The heavily accented, enigmatic Tommy starts writing and -- using his own mysterious, apparently bottomless, bank account -- buying equipment, hiring crew, and casting. When filming starts, it becomes clear that Tommy doesn't really know what he's doing. Tensions mount, and the movie goes over schedule. But Tommy's passion somehow manages to keep things together. Finally, the movie, called The Room (2003), is finished. But what if they've made the worst movie of all time?
Is it any good?
Taking a cue from Ed Wood, this loving portrait of a terrible filmmaker could have indulged in ridicule, but instead it's about passion and dedication. And it boasts a powerhouse lead performance by James Franco. Also produced and directed by Franco, The Disaster Artist feels like a perfect fit for this hyper-prolific jack-of-all-trades; he must understand more than most the drive to create and the pleasure/pain of the creation's ultimate completion and exhibition. (The real Wiseau has a cameo in the movie, indicating that he must have approved.)
Without ever inventing any kind of backstory for Wiseau -- and never solving the triple mystery of his birthplace, his age, and his financial situation -- the movie gives us a fascinating, dynamic character who, miraculously, never outstays his welcome. As Greg, Dave Franco (James' real-life brother) has the much harder job, driving the plot forward, convincingly being Tommy's friend, and showing what it was like to also be in his shadow. He does all this admirably. Packed with fascinating, so-odd-they-must-be-true details, The Disaster Artist is consistently funny and touching, and, like The Room itself, enjoyable in its own weird way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how The Disaster Artist portrays sex. Why do you think the character insists on doing a nude scene and a sex scene? Why is the scene funny instead of sexy?
How violent is the movie? Does it raise tension through arguing and yelling? What actual scenes of violence are there?
Does the movie mock Tommy Wiseau? Does it admire or respect him? Do you want to like him? How does the movie achieve these things?
How does this movie change or enhance your experience of viewing The Room?
- In theaters: December 1, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: March 13, 2018
- Cast: James Franco, Dave Franco, Alison Brie, Seth Rogen
- Director: James Franco
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout and some sexuality/nudity
- Awards/Honors: Golden Globe
- Last updated: June 1, 2020
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