IS there such a thing as an objectively bad film? This hilarious, knowing, and oddly heartfelt offering from director James Franco is predicated on the answer being yes. But it’s with inserting the caveat that, viewed in the right light, such an offering can also be a blast and that its perceived awfulness is ultimately only part of the story.

Essentially this is a dramatised, heightened, behind-the-scenes look at The Room, a film made in 2003 by the still-indefinable Tommy Wiseau that has garnered a fervent cult following as “the best bad film ever made.” It’s shown at sold-out midnight screenings around the world where audiences shout out its idiosyncratic lines like, “Oh, hi Mark!” and throw plastic spoons at the screen whenever framed photographs of spoons inexplicably appear on screen.

If The Room itself didn’t actually exist as proof – with its endless parade of stilted dialogue, blatantly misogynist underpinnings and plotlines that go nowhere – you’d think The Disaster Artist was the most ridiculous Hollywood wind-up project of all time.

Franco himself stars as the weird and enigmatic Wiseau, approached by fellow wannabe star Greg Sestero (played by Franco’s real-life brother Dave Franco) after an intense acting class in which Wiseau over-dramatically performs the famous “Stella!” scene from A Streetcar Named Desire.

Before long the two strike up a friendship and move in together in Wiseau’s Los Angeles apartment. Unable to break into the tough Hollywood world and inspired by the work of late actor James Dean, they decide to make a film themselves. I mean, how hard can it be, right?

James Franco gives an astonishing performance that’s an absolute treat to watch. He dives deep into a lived-in persona, perfectly capturing every little tick and mannerism.

Wiseau’s awkward stance, oddball accent and line delivery (he claims he’s from New Orleans but the accent could come from anywhere or nowhere at all), the constant wiping of his obviously dyed jet black hair from his eyes and overly forced style of laughter.

It’s a testament to his performance that he makes such an eccentric character so believable, finding real notes of delicacy and pathos where you wouldn’t think they could exist. It would have been easier just to make this a parody of a bad film but it’s so much more than that.

The tone is affectionate ribbing rather than all-out ridicule, deploying a cavalcade of surprise Hollywood cameos (some playing themselves, and some not – though none of which I’ll spoil here) along a journey that marvels at the audacious madness of making a film that seems doomed to be terrible at every turn.

But, at the same time, it celebrates with the purest of hearts the idolised ambition of a frustrating and frustrated creator and the beauty of making something on your own terms – even if it doesn’t end up having the desired effect.

In tandem it also finds room to explore Wiseau and Sestero bonding and friendship over a shared dream, giving us a grounded anchor to hold on to throughout a strange yet sincere odyssey through the Hollywood creative process. It all adds up to one of the year’s most purely entertaining cinematic experiences.

The Disaster Artist is in selected cinemas now and nationwide from December 6.