From the duo that brought you The Room is a tagline that knows its target audience. Let’s be clear, no one is going to see this who isn’t a fan of The Room or The Disaster Artist. But even though Best F(r)iends Volume 1 is made with a modicum of competence (neither Tommy Wiseau or Greg Sestero directed this) it is so self-consciously trying to capture that midnight movie, cult lightning-in-a-bottle of The Room, it becomes quite tiresome to watch.
Written by Greg Sestero, the plot of Best F(r)iends Volume 1 sees him playing Jon Kortina, a homeless ex-army vet who encounters a strange mortician called Harvey, played by Tommy Wiseau. The two become friends and start working together. Wiseau’s character is as strange as you might expect, however playing a mortician who makes creepy death masks and carries a dossier on The Black Dahlia, is a much better fit for his persona than Johnny (his all-American businessman character in The Room) ever was. Together Jon and Harvey hatch a scheme to sell the gold teeth and fillings that Harvey has been collecting over the years. Yes, you read that right.
So what can we say about this film? Well, thanks to neither Tommy nor Greg being behind the camera, it has a much better production value than their last collaboration. The film was directed by Justin MacGregor, and even in the absurdly arty and overblown opening credits, it is clear that he at least knows the basics. Sestero is still a wildly average on screen presence, but his script (which isn’t great) manages to make use of both his limited talent, and Tommy’s bizarre eccentricities. Tommy just does his thing, and if that is what you are looking for, then nothing I say about this film is going to stop you from seeing it.
The film is objectively bad. Sestero and Wiseau – just like in The Room – are constantly fluffing their dialogue and stepping over each other’s lines. The plot is horribly misjudged, and in terms of tone and genre it jumps all over the place. The running time is also padded to the extreme with endless montages that make no sense and fail to move plot or character one iota. There is legitimately about 45 minutes of story here. And this is only Volume 1! With the bizarre score, and strange soundtrack choices, the end result is more like a weird art project than a film.
The obvious answer to what is going on here with this bonkers movie, is that they intentionally set out to make a cult film. Something you simply can’t do. These things have to happen naturally. What we have here is a blatant attempt to cash in on the resurgence of interest in The Room thanks to last year’s excellent adaptation of The Disaster Artist. They have a scene of Jon and Harvey talking about their personal lives whilst tossing a ball back and forth. There are random cutaways to establishing shots of cities and skylines that go on way too long. Then there’s the dialogue, which is of course dreadful and again very reminiscent of The Room. However, when Tommy wrote that film he thought it was genius. Sestero is just trying to mimic this, with bizarre non-sequiturs and inexplicable outbursts. There’s even an attempt to create a new “tearing me apart Lisa”.
However, and this is important, it made me laugh a lot. Wiseau seems to have embraced the ridiculous Frankenstein’s monster side of himself, and isn’t afraid to be the object of fun. And Sestero is just naturally funny, as the handsome boy next door who can’t really act, but has clearly accepted that The Room, Tommy Wiseau, and “oh hi Mark”, will forever be part of his legacy. There is something about these two that I just find endlessly fascinating, and Best F(r)iends genuinely taps into their appeal.
So yes, it is a bad film, but if like me you are a fan of The Room and The Disaster Artist, then I think you will probably have some fun with this. I highly doubt it will have the same enduring appeal of their first film, but if you’ve had a couple of drinks and you’ve got your mates round, then Best F(r)iends will most certainly deliver the giggles. If however, by some freak turn of events you have downloaded this without any prior knowledge of the Wiseau/Sestero Cinematic Universe then I don’t know what to say, other than good luck. You’re gonna have to navigate this weird and wonderful world on your own.
Cast: Greg Sestero, Tommy Wiseau, Paul Scheer, Kristen StephensonPino Director: Justin MacGregor Writer: Greg Sestero Released By: Lionsgate Certificate: 15 Duration: 104 mins Release Date: 25th September 2018