UK Release Date: 25th September 2018
Runtime: 103 minutes
Director: Justin MacGregor
Writer: Greg Sestero
Starring: Greg Sestero, Tommy Wiseau, Kristen StephensonPino
Synopsis: A homeless drifter finds work and companionship in the shape of a strange undertaker and then spots a business opportunity that could net the friends millions.
There’s almost no point in reviewing Best F(r)iends: Volume 1. Everyone who might possibly be interested in seeing The Room leading duo Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero back together will watch the movie regardless of whether it’s good, bad or bona fide incompetent. And to an extent, this is a film that does get by as a result of the morbid curiosity inherent in seeing these guys share a screen again. Any question of whether there has been an improvement in Wiseau’s ability is answered with his first line of dialogue. “Are you going to stand out there like a Statue of Liberty?” he drawls, as if every word is entirely new to his lips. Yep, we’re back.
This time, though, it’s not Wiseau who’s in the driving seat. In the director’s chair is Justin MacGregor, helming a script by Sestero, who also produces and takes the leading role as Jon – a homeless drifter. He arrives in Los Angeles with nothing except cardboard message boards bearing slogans dubbing him a “stranded time traveler” and declaring that his family has been “kidnapped by ninjas”. The balance of power may have shifted to Sestero, but it’s still Wiseau who dominates as the strange undertaker, Harvey, who takes Jon under his wing. Soon, though, Jon discovers he can make a bit of cash by selling the gold teeth Wiseau collects from corpses, sparking a strange business alliance that devolves into paranoia.
Everything about Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 is bizarre, but not in the enjoyable way Wiseau-Sestero fans may be expecting. It’s a relatively competent movie from a basic filmmaking perspective and certainly has the feel of acceptable gloss that was so sorely lacking from the decidedly DIY The Room. However, Sestero’s story is incredibly weird and supposedly based on “true events” – a road trip the duo took in which the ever-eccentric Wiseau became convinced Sestero was plotting to kill him. It’s clear the movie is shooting for a hybrid of black comedy and neo-noir, but no one involved has the talent to sell that complex genre mishmash.
With that in mind, the movie is altogether more serious and dramatic than The Room, though still prone to bizarre flashes of oddity. There’s a scene in which the duo talk about life while throwing a basketball between them, in a clear homage to the many football sequences in The Room, while there’s always the expectation that every sequence of Wiseau raising his voice will lead to an exclamation that Jon is “tearing me apart”. Without the trappings of The Room‘s quasi-charming egotistical incompetence, all that’s left is the fact that Wiseau is just a bad actor – and that makes Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 more than a little boring.
Devotees of the strange Tommy Wiseau cult of personality will probably find just enough here from their idol to justify the price of a VOD rental. However, for anyone who has never spent an evening lobbing spoons around at the Prince Charles Cinema, this is just a bland attempt at LA noir that’s best left to fade away into obscurity, before the second “volume” of the story even shows up. Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 is a movie in which Wiseau dresses up corpses and claims they’re beautiful, through sheer force of creative enthusiasm. Maybe he isn’t so far from The Room after all.
Pop or Poop?
It’s impossible to divorce Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 from the fact it marks the long-awaited reunion of the stars of The Room, 15 years after they accidentally delivered the ultimate cult classic. Unfortunately, it’s a dull and unimaginative ride that is just a little too competent to boast the same appeal. In fact, the worst thing is that there’s a second volume already in the can and on the way.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.
Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 is available on VOD platforms in the UK and worldwide from September 25.