If you haven’t seen The Room—Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 “drama” that many people consider to be the worst movie ever made—The Disaster Artist will make you want to change that ASAP. James and Dave Franco play the eccentric Wiseau and his younger, starry-eyed friend Greg, respectively, and try to explore exactly how and why The Room ended up being a thing.
The Disaster Artist is full of unexpected and enjoyable celebrity cameos that’ll make you question just how many Hollywood connections the Franco brothers actually have (we’re thinking at least a couple hundred thousand). But we don’t want to spoil the surprises, so instead we’ll focus on the amazing 1990s and 2000s pop culture references the Francos managed to slot in between Tommy and Greg’s initial 1998 meeting and The Room’s ultimate 2003 premiere.
Tommy confesses that he only discovered his passion for acting after getting into a car crash that nearly killed him. Greg, on the other hand, was inspired to become an actor after watching Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. Both experiences are clearly life-changing, if you ask us.
Tommy and Greg eventually decide to take a big step towards inevitable stardom and move to Los Angeles together. Once they get there, Tommy offers Greg the only bedroom in his roomy L.A. apartment. While Greg tries to refuse, Tommy won’t back down. “I want you to be my guest,” Tommy assures Greg. “Like Beauty and the Beast. I will be Beauty, of course.”
This hip hop classic by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (aka Mark Wahlberg and co.) pops up right after Tommy and Greg arrive in L.A. Wahlberg’s retro beats underscore the excitement Tommy and Greg both feel as they run around the city, taking headshots and searching for gigs.
You’ll hear this song during a club scene early in the movie, when Greg meets his future girlfriend Amber (The Little Hours’ Alison Brie, who’s actually married to Dave Franco in real life). Judging by the way he steps out on to the dance floor and starts joyfully flailing his arms, this is also Tommy’s favourite song.
In one scene, Tommy sits in a restaurant all by himself when he overhears Judd Apatow (who, in 1999, would have been best known for executive producing Freaks and Geeks) talking to a woman about Star Wars: Episode I. More specifically, Judd’s talking about fan-favourite Star Wars character and all-around cultural icon Jar Jar Binks. Fortunately, Tommy cuts him off and introduces himself before Judd can go too far down that rabbit hole.
The Kylie Minogue banger plays in the background while Tommy and Greg audition actors for the role of Lisa and start to hire the rest of their crew members, including script supervisor Sandy Schklair (Seth Rogen), and DP Raphael Smadja (Veep’s Paul Scheer).
While they sit on the couch and watch an early episode of Gilmore Girls together, Greg tells Amber that he auditioned for the role of Dean—Rory’s first boyfriend and the role ultimately filled by Supernatural’s Jared Padalecki. Amber assures Greg that he’s way hotter than Jared, but we think it’s too close to call.
We don’t want to spoil too much, but Greg and Amber have a noteworthy interaction with a pre-Breaking Bad Bryan Cranston late in the movie. The scene takes place in 2002, back when Cranston was best known for playing Malcolm’s Hal Wilkerson and, according to Amber, for being a fellow Pilates enthusiast.