REVIEW: Best F(r)iends: Volume Two

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Minutes after the catastrophic events of Best F(r)iends: Volume One, Best F(r)iends: Volume Two picks up the story of petty, wayward criminal, Jon, who continues with his intents to succeed in his “get-rich-quick” scheme, in the absence of his partner and friend, Harvey.

A few months back, readers, you would remember, I brought you my critique of Best F(r)iends: Volume One, to which I reviewed purely off atmosphere and experience as opposed to getting technical and intricate with the finer details. Being a production from The Room duo, Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau, I have to firstly restate that the technical aspects of filmmaking are not important when exploring what the two performers have to offer in Best F(r)iends: Volume Two. Sestero and Wiseau are of a cult background, having made almost nothing but absurd, terribly acted and horrifically orchestrated, pieces of, what can only be described as, accidental avant-garde cinema. In my last review, I also noted that the style of film that Wiseau and Sestero appear to continuously dabble in is so unique and separate to anything and everything else that it should receive its own title, for which I have come to refer to as the Wiseau Weird Wave. So, following on from Best F(r)iends: Volume One, for which I thought to be hilariously well-done despite falling slave to The Room on a few occasions, Best F(r)iends: Volume Two presented something distinctively different to its predecessor and honestly… I think it may be that tiny bit better.

When I said Best F(r)iends: Volume One felt like a slave to The Room, I meant that as both a positive and a negative. Positively, Best F(r)iends: Volume One utilised its connections to The Room to really broaden the comical but understandably deep relationship between Wiseau and Sestero. The film also hit a lot of comedy beats that could have only been provided by assistance of the groundwork that had been originally laid by The Room. However, atop it all, the film was most successful in its ode to the 2003 classic by allowing audiences to bask in the craziness of an off-the-chain Wiseau performance that was complimented by the filmmaking at play around the mysterious actor. Yet, negatively, Best F(r)iends: Volume One, at times, felt it only existed purely because of The Room. Now, that’s not entirely a bad thing, but what I meant to say is that the movie felt like its main mission was to pander to fans of The Room rather than go its own way and be completely of its own style and structure. Best F(r)iends: Volume Two, on the other hand, felt like a fresh new story with ambitions to go further than just a homage to The Room.

best-friends (2).jpg
(Film 2018)

Now at my screening for Best F(r)iends: Volume Two, THE Greg Sestero was there to introduce the film and answer some questions on topics like The Room, The Disaster Artist and, of course, Best F(r)iends: Volume One and Two. Sestero said three things in particular for which really stood out to me when it came to watching Best F(r)iends: Volume Two and later assessing it.

The most immediate element of Sestero’s Q&A that assisted in my observation of his new film was the fact that apparently, whilst filming Best F(r)iends, Wiseau wouldn’t even wake up to shoot until about 3pm and so therefore, Sestero had to portray the man with a fake wig, hat and trench coat in most shots. And so, based off guesswork now, I believe the filmmakers decided to remedy this problem in Volume Two by having the film feature very minimal Wiseau.

So yes, Best F(r)iends: Volume Two did not have a lot of Tommy Wiseau, savour for some voiceover work and a genuine appearance from the actor towards the end of the film, but, for the most half, the film operated without Wiseau. His presence was comfortingly felt over the project and never did it seem like the actor was not a part of the production, but what Best F(r)iends: Volume Two smartly did was allow Sestero to take centre stage and have an obscurely cheesy but heavily entertaining and newly fashioned narrative to follow suit.

Best F(r)iends: Volume Two, funnily enough, felt more compact as a story – much shorter and tighter than Volume One, taking the form of a road trip type tale across America featuring unknown actors almost on-par with the calibre of classic Room faces like Chris R and Mike. With Wiseau out of the picture (not entirely, I remind you), Best F(r)iends: Volume Two was able to bring to the forefront fresh and dumb acts to sell the film’s corny, uncomfortable humour. For example, my favourite new addition to the cast of characters from the mind of Sestero and Wiseau would have to have been Uncle Rick without a doubt. Portrayed by Rick Stanton – a Clint Eastwood crossed with Bruce Willis-type – Uncle Rick would easily be the most despicable, most stupid, most comical character I have seen written and performed on screen in 2018. His inconsistent mannerisms, his constant need to workout and show off his muscles, his creepy, overly-manly vibes – everything about Uncle Rick was exactly the right amount of a fix that I needed for comedy in the calendar year.

And basically, Uncle Rick was the central reason I loved Volume Two – him and all the new characters. Random supporting cast members like a hotel concierge and a lock breaker called Doc, all just really assisted in making Best F(r)iends: Volume Two so crazily unique and separate from the original. Whereas with Volume One, I felt the film leant too much on Wiseau with the hope that said actor would carry the film through its terrible production quality, Best F(r)iends: Volume Two, instead, broadened out to new and differently styled comedy act weirdos like Uncle Rick to share the load.

The second thing that really stuck out to me in Sestero’s Q&A was how the actor explained James and Dave Franco’s The Disaster Artist as a “lighter”, “friendlier” version of the true story behind The Room. In my original review for Best F(r)iends: Volume One, I noted something along the lines of how the “based on a true story” title card at the beginning of the movie was probably a joke in reference to a film like Fargo. Although, coming out of Best F(r)iends: Volume Two and after hearing Sestero literally say that Best F(r)iends was “his own adaptation of ‘The Disaster Artist’”, amplifying the darker elements at play, I have to believe that maybe, just maybe, Best F(r)iends might have more going for it than just humour and call backs to The Room… in fact, it may be way smarter than that.

I believe the intent of the Best F(r)iends movies were for Sestero to metaphorically tell the story of ‘The Disaster Artist’ but through stranger, dumber and darker routes. In Sestero’s own words, he met Tommy at his lowest point, when he was broke and doing small acting roles – in contrast, the character of Jon in Best F(r)iends met the character of Harvey whilst being homeless and having literally nothing. Both Wiseau and Sestero decided to collaborate on an ambitious project (The Room) to make money – Harvey and Jon eventually teamed up to hatch a scheme to make millions. The two had several falling outs – both the real-life pair and their characters. And maybe, unless I’m digging into this too deep, Sestero eventually felt he betrayed his friend, Wiseau, for writing the book, ‘The Disaster Artist’, similar to how Jon equally felt guilty over time for stealing from his boss and friend, Harvey. It’s become, under my belief, that Sestero set out to make amends with his best friend by making a film, subsequently entitled Best F(r)iends… and maybe the ‘fiends’ part was just a metaphor for how the pair have become famous for producing absolute sh*t for mass audiences.

So, being that most of the relationship between Wiseau and Sestero, and subsequently Harvey and Jon, was explored in Volume One, you may ask: what was Volume Two all about then? Well without Wiseau’s Harvey, Sestero’s Jon was left to lead the narrative solo, leading himself and the plot down a deeper rabbit hole. The movie felt like it continued to beat Jon over the head with problem after problem whilst Harvey continued to plague his mind, filling him with confusion and regret. Only towards the end of the film, when Wiseau’s Harvey resurfaced in the narrative, did Jon’s luck begin an ascent and the story once again gained a lighter edge. If I were to assess the meaning of Volume Two then I would have to come to the conclusion that what Sestero was trying to communicate through his script was that he needs Wiseau just as much as Wiseau needs him. A friendship is made clearer when friends are disconnected and disjointed, and its in that absent space that a partnership strengthens, not physically but emotionally. Separated, the two men are lost but together, they (as cheesy as it sounds) stand strong. Funnily enough, the films earned the title Best F(r)iends even more than you may have originally imagined.

Again though, I do not necessarily think I could call this film genius, despite its impeccable technical prowess over The Room, as, at the end of the day, the production for Best F(r)iends was still blatantly sh*t, even though I noted that criticising said element of the movie is not entirely fair. Yes, some of the movie’s horrible technical fundamentals were purposely done in said way or just so badly executed they worked in the film’s favour, but even Sestero noted how some of the editing and camerawork were just poorly done for no feasible reason. I mean, it’s difficult to really pinpoint the bits and pieces in Best F(r)iends: Volume Two which were bad or just wrong, but if you have seen the film or at least Volume One, you would know why I cannot say this movie is technically ‘great’…

Either way, this second part to Wiseau and Sestero’s cinematic comeback was indeed a welcome one. I would 100% recommend watching both films back-to-back though as most of Volume Two would be hard to follow without having seen Volume One – and I even saw Volume One! This ain’t no Kill Bill where the audience receive a faithful re-cap of the previous film, because even the re-cap in Best F(r)iends: Volume Two was weirdly and oddly done. Yet, as the film Sestero set out to make, Best F(r)iends faithfully served as a cinematic love letter to Tommy Wiseau, respectfully from his best friend.

Best F(r)iends: Volume Two is a bloody… CRUSADE!!

P.S. The third part of Sestero’s Q&A that I found fascinating was the fact Sestero’s next film is apparently going to be a horror… ‘Night of the Living Wiseau’s’ anyone?

 

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