BEST F(R)IENDS: VOLUME ONE

Who doesn’t love Tommy Wiseau’s trashterpiece The Room? Considered by many “the best bad movie ever made”, the reason why is because of the sheer amount of passion that went into it. Passion doesn’t really mean a whole lot, if you don’t have the talent to back it up, though. The Room is evidence of that, but the passion is so misguided and absurd, you can’t help but be entertained. What if that passion is just dull and directionless? 

Best F(r)iends: Volume One follows Jon (Greg Sestero), a drifter wandering around Los Angeles and trying to make money any way he can. One lonely night, he comes across mortician Harvey (Tommy Wiseau), an odd man with a mysterious past. After making their acquaintances, Harvey offers Jon a job at the morgue, where they slowly become friends. Realizing that Harvey has a large supply of gold teeth to make the corpses look presentable, John begins stealing them and selling the gold for cash. As his secret side gig goes on, Jon starts to learn more and more about Harvey’s strange, and possibly sinister, past. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is the official onscreen reunion of Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero, 15 years after they took the world by storm with The Room. Just like The Room, the passion is all there, but there’s really no sense of talent to be seen. If you’re familiar with Sestero’s backstory, he always wanted to be an actor and a screenwriter, and Best F(r)iends: Volume One is him saying, “This is who I can really be.” Unfortunately, Sestero just isn’t very good at acting or writing. His character is silent for a majority of the film, especially in the first half. When he’s not talking, he does a decent job, although his facial expression don’t change much. It’s when he starts talking when all doubt goes out the window: Sestero just isn’t very talented. A lot of the dialogue is awkward and weird and when he is forced to recite it, it often comes off as very stilted and flat. It doesn’t help that he doesn’t give Jon a whole lot of characterization to begin with. Just a lonely drifter who lost his mom at a young age and seeks a human connection.

Of course, the big “selling point” of the film is Tommy Wiseau’s return to acting. We all know he couldn’t act to save his life in The Room, so how will he fare under somebody else’s writing and direction? Well, he’s still just as awful. Since he didn’t write or direct this film, his character and performance is a lot more restrained, but his accent, cadence, and mannerisms are still as bizarre as ever. Since the film doesn’t really give him a whole lot to do, most of the performance is pretty dry and uninspired, with occasional moments of laughter, depending on how weird the dialogue is at the time. I attended a showing of this film where Greg Sestero came out and did a 20-minute Q&A with the audience. He said that part of the reason he wrote this film was that he wanted to actually “give Tommy something to work with as an actor.” Well, I think it’s official after this: Tommy Wiseau is not a good actor, nor will he ever be. 

Where The Room ended up being hilariously entertaining due to its baffling absurdity, Best F(r)iends: Volume One is just a slog. The former’s insane amount of incompetence has always added to the humor. Here, the incompetence is annoying and distracting, mostly because the film is so dreadfully boring. This is director Justin MacGregor’s feature film debut and it really shows in the many attempts at experimentation that just don’t pay off at all. Aspect ratios will change from scene to scene, some shots will be in a higher framerate (sometimes during the same scene!), and some shots were just straight up out of focus. I know this is a low budget film and MacGregor’s debut, but it just felt inexcusably cheap and poorly put together. During the Q&A, one audience member asked, “Why did the director change aspect ratios and shoot in higher framerates?” All Greg had to say ways, “He wanted to experiment with some stuff, so we let him go wild.” The musical score was really neat, though, if a bit oddly composed, but that only just complimented the film’s weird tone. 

Just like The Disaster Artist, I’m curious as to how much one would enjoy Best F(r)iends: Volume One if they haven’t seen The Room before. Obviously, this film is much more niche and intended for fans of Wiseau and Sestero, but without any context, they would probably just feel like they’re watching a poorly made student film. Judging from the questions asked during the Q&A, it seems like many people legitimately enjoyed the film, but I feel as if it’s simply because they’re fans of The Room and The Disaster Artist, and not out of any genuine enjoyment. While I admit it’s somewhat fun seeing the pair together on screen again, it’s really just watching two poor actors with no chemistry reciting off the wall dialogue. 

The biggest question that Best F(r)iends: Volume One begs is, was this intended to be bad? The fact that it stars Tommy Wiseau and that the premise and events are the film are so bizarre makes you think it was intentional. However, during Sestero’s Q&A, it seems that this was all done in earnest. It seems like he was actually trying to make a strange, yet compelling, arthouse film. In that case, he failed, but unlike The Room, the failure here isn’t at all entertaining. It’s simply boring and bad. 

Also, I’m sure you’ve noticed the Volume One part all over the review. Yes, there’s more of this story to come. Will I see it? Perhaps. Am I interested at all to see how all of this nonsense resolves? Not in the slightest. Oh, bye, Mark. 

2.5/10

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