How much milage does Tommy Wiseau’s The Room have left? A case could be made that it’s an all-timer, a piece of outsider art that will draw new audiences for decades to come. You could call it, Ed Wood’s Eraserhead, maybe. But its biggest hurdle towards becoming a true classic is going to be over saturation, a problem most cult films haven’t had in the past. In the last five(ish) years there’s been a desperate, sweaty urge to crown new “so bad it’s good” classics, sometimes before they’re even released (Sharknado). And when a movie works as well as The Room, there’s a real danger of it being smothered by fans who just want to pet it and squeeze it and love it forever. Like Grumpy Cat.
James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Productions has optioned book and life rights toThe Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the book published last fall by Simon & Schuster from actor Greg Sestero and journalist Tom Bissell. Franco will direct and co-produce the book adaptation with his Rabbit Bandini partner Vince Jolivette, and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s Point Grey Productions. Ryan Moody is writing the script.
Shortly after the article went online, Franco’s Twitter account (it doesn’t look like he runs it, not on his own, anyway) announced that the film will be “Directed by Franco” and star both of the Franco brothers. Fine, but who’s playing Tommy? I was lucky enough to interview the man (for Paracinema Magazine, run by some lovely, cinefile friends of mine) and he’s everything you’d hope he might be. But therein lies the problem. His Transylvanian drawl is easy enough to mimic, but like his film, the smaller details of his personality are what make him so memorable.
I get the feeling that James wants the role of “Tommy” for himself (I can’t blame him), giving the part of “Greg” to his younger brother. And while I can see it, the film becomes a potential tightrope walk over a chasm of self indulgence because of that casting. I’d advise James to spread the wealth and find someone else to play “Tommy,” allowing himself to focus on directing the damned thing. Establishing a point of view that goes beyond, “look at these idiots make this stupid movie” is going to make all the difference in the world with this project and he’d do well to learn at least one lesson from Tommy Wiseau: don’t try to do too much.