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Pop Culture Happy Hour: 'The Disaster Artist' Is A Very James Franco Production

Greg (Dave Franco) and Tommy (James Franco) in <em>The Disaster Artist</em>.
Justina Mintz
courtesy of A24
Greg (Dave Franco) and Tommy (James Franco) in The Disaster Artist.

You never know with James Franco.

You might get the sensitive, believable Franco of 127 Hours. You might get the serious, introspective Franco of Milk. You might get the self-serious Franco of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, or the comically self-serious Franco of Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? Then there's the gleefully cheap-laugh Franco of, say, Pineapple Express. But there may never have been a project so obviously suited to the actor-poet-writer-philosopher-pretty-plausible-as-a-weed-dealer as The Disaster Artist, which is about the making of the terrible 2003 film The Room.

Franco plays The Room's writer-director-star Tommy Wiseau, and his mimicry of Wiseau's voice and eyelid action is eerie. But is this comedy — co-starring Franco's brother Dave as Wiseau's collaborator Greg Sestero — saying something about art, or is it just a goof upon a goof, a midnight movie squared?

Marissa Lorusso of NPR Music joins the panel this week to consider The Disaster Artist — and, to an extent, The Room — as the possibility comes into clearer focus that this will be the closest Tommy Wiseau will ever get to the Oscar he perhaps dreamed of.

We also take a look at what's making us happy this week. Stephen is happy about a film he was hesitant to watch. Glen is happy about NPR's great big book project for the end of the year. Marissa is happy about a variety of newsletters, including one that might broaden your nose's horizons. And I am happy about a Twitter feed that might left your spirits.

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter: me, the show, Stephen, Glen, Marissa Lorusso, producer Jessica, and producer emeritus Mike.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.

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