Monday, 10 February 2014

Book Review: The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, The Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero. Part 1: The Life and Times of Greg and Tommy

(Warning: Spoilers)!

We all have those favourite bad movies which have to be so bad they are incredibly entertaining. For me, it was Troll 2 that sat there on the pedestal of greatest bad movie, until I watched Doug Walker’s 2010 review of The Room.

Holy friggin’ god was this film entertainingly bad. A protagonist played by the writer, producer and director who couldn’t act, and a plot with so many holes there was next to none of it. not to mention all those memorable catchphrases that’ll stick in my head forever and a script so diabolically written you could predict it by the time you’d reached that halfway point on first viewing.

I won’t ramble on about the film too much because you’ve probably seen it already and know exactly what is to come in this review of such a well written memoir of such a terrible movie. The author, Greg Sestero, co-starred alongside Tommy Wiseau as Mark, the protagonist, Johnny’s best friend who is sleeping with Johnny’s future wife, Lisa.

And because there is so much to cover, this review is going to be in several posts. The first will follow the sub-plot on how Greg met Tommy and the worst movie ever was conceived and brought to fruition. 

So let’s dive right into: The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room.

Where did it all begin?

Sestero starts by recalling the last night out with Wiseau before shooting began. He tells how Tommy is a manipulative little bastard who will use all in his power to get an exclusive table in a Hollywood restaurant without a reservation. Greg explains how he was originally the line producer on The Room and never intended to act in it as his acting career had all but dried up by 2002, but Tommy offered him the role of Mark for a ‘life changing’ amount of money and a new car, which at his then girlfriend’s approval got him involved.

Every even numbered chapter in this book tells of how Greg and Tommy got together and became involved in each other’s lives before making The Room. Our hero then explains how he came to be part of a San Francisco drama group in the late 90s where he came across the weirdly accented, long haired man who had the appearance and swagger of ‘a slouchy teenager in detention’. Eventually, Tommy gets the chance to act and how he destroyed a Shakespearian sonnet with such elegance, mesmerised young Greg and led to the duo performing their first scene together.

What did they get up to?

Other points Greg makes about Tommy, is he owns a Mercedes-Benz, has his own retail business, complete with cards, and is obsessed with James Dean. A later chapter has the duo venturing out to Cholame, California where the rebel without a cause met his end; they even speak to one of the last men to see him alive, supposedly inspiring Tommy to get more involved with acting and produce his own movie.

Sestero then goes back even further, explaining how he became a model and landed several deals in France, owing to his ability to speak French, before coming back to America to get involved with acting. His parents do not approve and he gets several roles as an extra, including the God-awful Patch Adams before finding an agent who starts getting him places.

Tommy then lets Greg rent out his own apartment in LA and soon Greg finds his first major movie role: the ‘puppet master’ in direct-to-DVD horror, Retro Puppet Master. Along the way, we find out that Tommy is growing jealous of Greg and wants to get his own movie roles. Greg, already amazed at how this socially awkward man who won’t even reveal how he came by so much money or where he came from, is uneasy about this but eventually grows accustomed to his friend’s surrealism. Eventually, Tommy moves in with Greg in the LA apartment and before you know it, Tommy is typing away on the script for the worst movie ever made.

Most memorable moments?

Regardless of how much Sestero spills to the outside world in this memoir, The Room is still shrouded in enough mystery to rival a 19th century gothic novel. You certainly feel uneasy when Greg tells of the riches Mr Wiseau possesses buy will never, ever reveal where he came into his fortune. He does later give an account of how he came to America and how he might have become such a rich man, but there is always doubt clouding everything our hero has noted.

There’s a very weird point just before Tommy moves in with Greg, where the long haired loner vanished for nine months, leaving our hero to get his life back on track before The Room was typed up into a stage play. Vampires are constantly alluded to when Tommy moves in with Greg and how he only seems to come out at night to get high on  Red Bull and amaze the world with his personified surrealism.

All in all, you’ll be reading this book and asking yourself, ‘What The Fuck?’ more times than you can possibly imagine. The life of Tommy Wiseau and the poor young San Francisco kid whom he dragged into it will have you laughing ‘til you puke, and make your jaw drop enough times to have it dislocate itself.

Stay tuned for the next instalment, where I shall be reviewing Sestero’s memories of how the greatest bad movie was filmed. 

Yes, what a story, Mark!

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