The Disaster Artist is a film about the making of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, the worst film of all time. It features an Oscar-worthy performance from James Franco, who is caked in prosthetics to make him look exactly like Kevin James. From the moment a fat-suit-wearing Franco scoots across the screen on a Segway, it is clear that he has captured an uncanny likeness. And while it results in moments of sheer hilarity, it ultimately leaves one feeling tremendously sympathetic for Kevin James.
I have not seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop or Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, so I cannot claim to understand all of The Disaster Artist’s nods and in-jokes, but what it conveys so effectively is how, exactly, the sequel to a film about a shopping centre security guard ended up being so horrendous that it became a cult classic.
Ironic fans of Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 now gather at least four times a year to point and laugh at the screen in disbelief of how utterly shit it is. The Disaster Artist perfectly captures and recreates all of its worst moments, like when Paul Blart falls over and when Paul Blart fits an entire hotdog in his mouth. At least I assume those are the worst bits. I have not seen Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, as I said.
But while The Disaster Artist succeeds at being one of the funniest films of the year, its biggest strength is in its heart. I began to feel incredibly sorry for Kevin James, who the film depicts as a massively misunderstood artist with a simple dream to delight audiences with his shopping mall shenanigans. For a second time.
The sympathy I felt was no doubt down to Franco’s brilliant and emotive impersonation of Kevin James. He does his whiny face thing perfectly, looking like a sea lion squinting at the sun. And seconds later he produces tears when talking about James’s Netflix partnership with Adam Sandler.
The Disaster Artist is one of my favourite films of the year, not because of my fairly aggressive man-crush on James Franco, but because of its main message about the importance of believing in one’s self. It also reminds me of The Room, which is a masterpiece.
The Disaster Artist is in UK cinemas December 6.