Best F(r)iends: Volume 1 (2017) Poster

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5/10
Money Over Friendship
ThomasDrufke18 August 2019
Before watching the first film of the epic 2-part 'saga' that brought back Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau on screen for the first time since the beloved and maligned 'The Room', I was unsure if these films were going to follow in the same vein of 'so bad they're good' or maybe this time they know the films are bad? My question wasn't immediately answered upon watching the first entry as it starts off with a promising premise, a good tone/setting (or so I thought), and even a score that feels perfect for this reunion. As the film goes on and gets more absurd as the characters start to show their true motives, I couldn't help but think that one: this film is beyond stupid and convoluted, and two: that it's also effortlessly entertaining and something I may think about re-watching if it's ever on cable. Now, onto part 2...

5.7/10
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7/10
Dark Film
dar041714 February 2020
There is a lot to this film it's dark, fumy, romantic, awkward and at sometimes the worst acting you will see on the screen. As for the look, style and story it all works really well and is very entertaining to watch. Just know what you are getting in for.
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7/10
Clever tragicomedy about an unlikely friendship
kluseba4 March 2019
I had the chance to watch Best F(r)iends: Volume 1, Best F(r)iends: Volume 2 and The Room at Ottawa's famous Mayfair Theatre with Greg Sestero in attendance who would answer numerous questions about his latest project. The two volumes tell a story which is partially inspired by true events when Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau took a road trip many years ago. The two movies tell an epic story about betrayal, friendship, greed, love and trust but the two volumes are actually quite different. The first volume focuses on the growing friendship between the two main characters in Los Angeles while the second volume is an almost surreal road movie taking one of the lead actors and his girlfriend to Arizona.

The plot focuses on lonesome and silent drifter Jon Kortina who has a shady past. He lives under a bridge and tries to get some money by walking through town with humorous signs. On his way through town, he comes across a mysterious hearse on several occasions. One day, the drifter observes how the driver of said hearse transports a coffin inside his mortuary. The mortician realizes he is being observed and spontaneously asks the drifter to help him out preparing bodies for their funerals. He later on introduces himself as Harvey Lewis, an eccentric loner who prepares masks to make the dead faces look beautiful. While the mortician is looking for a business partner and true friend, the drifter is only interested in stealing the gold fillings of the deceased's teeth to make money. One day, his conscience comes into play and he reveals his intentions to the mortician. The two start to get involved with shady underground businessmen and the more money they make the more risks they take. Things are getting even more complicated when Jon Kortina starts dating manipulative bartender Traci Walton who wants her boyfriend to take his share of the money and start a new life with her in Colorado.

If you were expecting a sympathetic train wreck of a movie like The Room, you will be quite surprised by this film. This experimental movie is a mixture between a drama with sad undertones about two loners, a crime flick with sinister vibes and a dark comedy film with numerous awkward situations. The movie is told with calm, care and precision. It starts with slow pace but gradually gets more intense until the closing cliffhanger which is followed by a surreal preview of the second volume. The locations are quite intriguing and cleverly accentuated by calm camera work, light techniques and sound effects. Greg Sestero's acting performance is enjoyably minimalist while Tommy Wiseau's eccentric style perfectly fits the character he incarnates. The two actors complement each other perfectly. Despite being at times awkward, I would watch Tommy Wiseau's theatrical performance over any one-dimensional acting job by the terrible Dwayne Johnson. Despite the criticism he has faced, one can't deny that Tommy Wiseau puts all his passion into his projects and this is also the case here. A man who follows his dream no matter what like he does deserves respect. Greg Sestero's courage to create such a complex project and collaborate with the eccentric Tommy Wiseau also deserves recognition.

In the end, I liked this movie for its unpredictable plot with numerous minor twists and turns, its unusual genre mixture that keeps the film interesting despite a slow pace and the surprisingly dynamic chemistry between an introverted Greg Sestero and an eccentric Tommy Wiseau. Fans of the aforementioned artists and those who like experimental art house cinema should give the two volumes a sincere try. I didn't have any expectations walking into this film and was positively surprised.
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6/10
Reasonable effort
Agent1016 October 2021
Sooooo....let's just be honest. This is an average film. There are some cool ideas in this film and some good shots, but let's not fool ourselves. Anything Greg Sestero does will be compared to The Room, and so anything he does will be infinitely better. The case in point was Best F(r)iends. And honestly, I love this freaking title. It's low key kinda genius.

The story starts with Sestero being down on his luck as a homeless man in Los Angeles named Jon. A chance encounter with a strange man (expertly played by Tommy Wiseau) leads Jon into a strange underground of gold selling. You see, at least according to Sestero, there was a group of men that used a mortician to steal the old gold fillings of dead people. This happened during the recession of 2009 where gold skyrocketed in value. Anyway, Jon strikes a bizarre friendship with Harvey (Wiseau) as they start working together at the mortuary. Jon ultimately finds out Harvey has hundreds of teeth with gold fillings and talks Harvey into going into business with him, selling the gold on the black market and making some extra cash. All is going well until an obvious thing happens...a super hot girl gets between them.

We all know how this turns out. Harvey gets suspicious of the new girl Traci. You see Harvey is withholding some of the profits from Jon and Traci starts planting ideas in Jon's head that he is being cheated. It makes it even weirder that Harvey is hiding the excess funds in an ATM in his garage. So they hatch a plan to get rid of Harvey and it inexplicably works, making it look like Harvey committed suicide while the couple runs off with the ATM/safe.

The film is pretty basic in its make-up, but it is a fine showcase for Sestero. He has embraced his cult status as a D-list actor and while Best F(r)iends is not a masterpiece, it is also not a complete waste of time. I also liked the fact he specifically made the Harvey character a mirror of real life Wiseau, giving him a vehicle where he is not the butt of a joke but an actual participant in a film. I mean, this movie will be forgotten in the annals of history but if you like The Room and anything associated with it, then check this one out.
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5/10
Wildly fluctuates
jellopuke17 July 2019
Some of this is great, especially Wiseau's gonzo,crazy performance, but some of the rest is utter crap, Sister's awkward performance & the pretentious shooting. So it's hard to pin down because it can be entertaining and boring, captivating and infuriating. In a way it tries too hard , but fails too far. See it anyway.
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6/10
Best F(r)iends (2018)
rockman18226 September 2018
Tommy Wiseau is a national treasure. I love The Room. its phenomenal. Its obviously terrible but its probably the best worst movie ever made. I didn't think the trailer for Best F(r)iends was a real thing. Seeing Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau reuniting for a film, that's amazing. I tried to catch this in its very limited theatrical run but here we are the time has come for me to see this. Its not amazing or anything but its exactly what you want from this project involving the pair.

The film is about a drifter who is down out of luck and how his life changes when he meets an odd and eccentric mortician. The mortician gives him a job and the pair become friends. The drifter takes advantage of an opportunity and sells gold teeth that the mortician has saved up and realizes that they could make a fortune off of it. The pair enjoy success at first but soon their friendship is tested. Loyalty, betrayal, trust, all of it is explored in this tale. Interestingly, Sestero himself wrote this picture in a very brief screenplay.

The film isn't the most smartly written for sure and I think its purposeful. The odd nature of Wiseau and his terrible delivery is on full display here and its turned up to 11. I dug that; the film shouldn't really be taken seriously and its understood the goofy nature of the story itself and the oddball that is Wiseau. Yet just seeing the two on screen together and being able to play off each other was fun to see. I am actually curious to see the second part of this film, I never know I needed this.

This film definitely won't be for everybody. I can imagine casual filmgoers won't find the enjoyment they seek in this. Why should they? Its not very good. This film is for the people (like me) who loved The Room and the lore that comes with it. That film is the most quotable ever and the bare minimum is delivered in this film. And that minimum standard is to see Wiseau being Wiseau and not making any sense. Bring on Volume 2. The wait is tearing me apart.

6/10
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2/10
I wouldn't watch this.
Delrvich23 May 2021
The only reason I give 2 stars for movies I wouldn't watch is because I might be wrong about how bad it looks (but, IIRC, haven't been wrong after having finally watched movies I've avoided).

---------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Deliberately botched 2 I don't want to see it 3 I didn't finish and or FF'd through it 4 Bad 5 I don't get it 6 Good 7 Great but with a major flaw 8 Great 9 Noir with moral 10 Inspiring with moral.
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6/10
A Fresh, Strange Experience
Gresh85412 May 2018
Best F(r)iends was a bizarre, surreal experience, and I mean that in the most approving way possible. It's nice to see that Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero have crafted something truly original. I'm undeniably psyched to see Volume 2 this June! (Verdict: B+)
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1/10
what a waste of time
talllwoood134 March 2021
Warning: Spoilers
The first 20 minutes almost nothing happens. Greg still hasn't improved in the slightest as an actor. The only redeeming factor of this movie is one of the people Harvey (Tommy) does business with calls Harvey out on whether he's on drugs or not.

Greg is homeless. I forget why.. or even what his characters name is. He starts off by conning this kind man (Harvey) who gives him money. He dates this girl that wouldn't even look at Greg if it wasn't for the promise to be in this movie and then she tells to keep stealing from him and for some reason after an argument with Harvey he finally sees there is potential in this business involving gold teeth that tommy just happens to have like a santa claus bag amount. I mean how many pimps and gangsters get shot in that part of California. Why they ever made a sequel to this is beyond me. I'd pay good money to see Tommy become an over the top 1960s style James Bond villain instead of this abomination. Either way I think it's time to get rid of Greg and get someone else for future tommy wiseau projects.

It's not as fun any more that Tommy is in on the joke people want to see him put out bad movies. When he was trying to be a good actor it was way funnier as the closest we'll ever get to that magic is "the house that dripped blood on alex"
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3/10
As expected but still missing something...
aeongale13 December 2018
You're probably just wanting to watch this to see Tommy deliver lines and act in only the way he can. It makes good on that. The fundamental plot is a good idea but falls over face-first as soon as the wheels get moving. The tv soap-esque performances are a little better than The Room but it lacks "so bad it's good" element. It really doesn't need a sequel.

If you're a Room fan looking for comforting warm hug check out Greg's audiobook The Disaster Artist. Heaps better than this and the film adaptation of the same name.
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8/10
Refreshingly original and unconventional
jackcwelch238 December 2017
I am well versed in the story of the Room and Greg Sestero's acting journey. I think it is fantastic that he not only has kept his acting dream from being completely extinguished by his association with the mother of all bad movies The Room, but managed to write and act in a gem that will hopefully open up the doors to him that seemed closed permanently.

It is difficult to categorise this movie into a genre. It's funny, strange, scary and silly, frequently all at the same time. If you don't know much about the plot, it makes the experience far richer, the surprises are half the fun. Greg is very good, but his reluctant life partner Tommy Wiseau is, believe it or not, actually quite good as well. I have a feeling they didn't let him go full on tyrant on this set and let him run completely amok like he did back in '03. He more or less plays a version of himself, or at least similar to how Greg describes him in the disaster artist, and is a compelling guy to watch, despite looking like dawn of the dead at whatever his age is.

The production value is good. The dialogue wasn't dubbed back in. I couldn't see any green screen rooftops and the dialogue is strange at time but not exactly "Oh Hi Mark" strange if you get my drift. Even if you know absolutely nothing about the story of these 2 men and just watch this movie like any other, you will still probably enjoy it. It's never boring or repetitive. In short, it looks pretty darn good.

If you really are sick of movies, even the good ones, that follow a very recognisable formula and want something truly unique and unpredictable then this is for you. It left me scratching my head, wondering exactly what it was. That is the highest compliment I can pay to a movie. In the words of harmony Korine "Please just give me something different."

Best Friends is about as different as Transformers is the same.
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7/10
A surrealist, neo-noir love letter to a great city and a greater friendship
kim_smoltz20 April 2018
** Official Selection - Screened at Cinedelphia Film Festival 2018 **

Though both a perfect companion to "The Room" and a standout film in its own right, "Best F(r)iends" overall seems to be a meditation on the past fifteen years of Greg Sestero's life. But, that sentence should mean something to you before you watch this movie. Don't see this film yet if you haven't. It won't do anything for you, and worse, you'll never appreciate what inspired it. It says so right at the beginning of the film -- "Based On True Events."

This two-volume film (which has a clear "intermission" moment at the end of Vol. 1) is really the final film in a loosely bound trilogy, which came together accidentally and incredulously.

Now, if you are already well-versed in the mythology behind Sestero and his unforgettable counterpart Tommy Wiseau, you should see this film. I would go into it not knowing anything -- but the plot is classic California neo-noir and involves detailed, interwoven subplots. It's also a tribute to the beautiful city of Los Angeles, and the significance of Sestero's time there versus his time in San Francisco.

Despite being a cult figure for fifteen years, this is Sestero's debut screenplay. At the wonderful Q&A I attended, he admitted that the script was written in only a few days, and inspired by both a fond (yet bizarre) memory and a cannabis edible. It lives up to this story and unfolds in a dreamlike manner, in which situational tones change rapidly and unexpectedly. Although clearly made on a limited budget, the film has simple yet effective cinematography. The direction is perfectly suited for both Sestero's script and Wiseau's acting, and there is a surprisingly great score by Daniel Platzman (of Imagine Dragons).

It's a good movie. It's not an amazing movie, but that hardly matters. The important part is that you will discover there is major talent behind Sestero (who hopes to next write an unrelated horror-thriller). It's clear that he has the capability to become more than "the guy who played Mark," and this is him getting his feet wet. This his him laying "The Room" to rest. It's a first effort, and an impressive one.

At the Q&A, Sestero explained that he wrote the characters of Jon and Harvey to be played specifically by himself and Tommy Wiseau. It was actually initially inspired by a memory of the two of them taking a road trip up the California coast, and Wiseau becoming paranoid that Sestero was going to kill him. Let me make myself abundantly clear -- there is absolutely no possible way for the characters in "Best F(r)iends" to be portrayed by other actors. The film would never work. To this point, it is clear that the film is a deep meditation on the complex relationship between these two men; one that has not always been great.

Given this context, I personally found the first volume of "Best F(r)iends" to be beautiful and poetic. It's somewhat over-the-top; Wiseau really shines when he is playing a character that was (quite literally) written for him -- it's clear he's having fun, and it's refreshing to see him take on a more serious form of acting. He also seems to be acutely conscious of his image and the way his adoring fans see him, and is embracing his naturally eccentric personality. It's not ridiculous to say he can and will appear in more films in various roles. And the guy earned it.

"Best F(r)iends" seems to suggest there is not much more to be said about the friendship between Sestero and Wiseau. It will always be there, and this two-part epic is its tribute. At the same time, it is being laid to rest in the cult circuit -- the memories will be there forever, but it's time to part ways and focus on the potentially incredible things that they create independent of one another.

I am enthusiastically looking forward to Vol. 2.
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5/10
well.... this exists
mayormcdeath12 July 2021
Warning: Spoilers
I rated this move a 5/10 because it honestly depends on who you are when you watch this, because there are 2 distinctly different people that this movie could be meant for.

Person number 1 is just your average joe cinema going public who hasn't heard of The Room or Tommy Wiseau and just wanted to enjoy a simple coherent, well scripted, well made movie. This person would be confused, irritated and disappointed and rate this movie a 1.

Person Number 2 is a movie loving, mst3k, rifftrax fanboy who absolutely knows The Room has watched it and loved it multiple times and considers The Disaster Artist one of their top 10 movies. This person would be entertained, delighted and literally in stitches by the end of this "movie" and rate it a 10.

So 5 is in the middle. I'm way more person number 2 and personally had an absolute blast, having to stop the movie several times because I was laughing so hard i was literally in tears.

SPOILERS BELOW

The basic plot of this new disaster from the disaster artists who inspired The Disaster Artist is that Greg, or Mark or whatever his name is in the movie is homeless and randomly stumbles into the creepiest mortician possible, Tommy or Johnny or whatever he calls himself. After some classicly ridiculous Tommy Wiseau nonsensical lines where he talks about making masks of dead peoples faces and being in love with them he lets it drop that for some reason he also steals their body parts... as souvenirs..... Literally just off handedly mentions it as if its nothing big. GregMark doesn't seem to have a problem with this and when he finds an apparently endless vault of gold teeth (bags and bags of them) he decides to sell them or steal them.

As with the room the plot makes no sense and who cares. It's really about the dysfunctional relationship between Tommy and Greg. Tommy's character is constantly giving mark nuggets of advice while also telling him he's going to die, and making a very creepy mask of mark (in volume 2 he wears the mask for like 10 minutes on screen while playing with a homemade doll he made of himself before putting on a knight helmet that looks like it came from the set of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.) Through twists and turns you relive the room as Greg betrays Tommy for a woman who turns out to be no good (surprise!). Volume one ends on a cliff hanger that i wont spoil.

If you like watching craziness and other actors being visibly annoyed with Wiseau interrupting them on camera or a man wearing platform shoes in a basketball montage missing an easy layup and slamming into a wall, this movie is for you.
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8/10
Remarkable entertainment
unclezoltan13 September 2017
This film is way wackier than The Room on terms of sanity, it's written by Greg Sestero and he did a great job with it. I saw it at an event with Tommy and Greg live and it had the whole audience in hysterics. Although, we did only watch a 'preview cut' for it and I was rather disappointed to not see some of the scenes that I've viewed in the trailers online.

Tommy is crazier than ever in this and is more like you'd imagine him in real life which is a pretty stellar depiction of what he is actually like.

It started off slow and I was getting a bit bored but it picked up quickly. It's truly cinematic despite being filmed on a 'small' budget. The sets look great and the story is original. This is really a film where you can see the friendship of Greg and Tommy flourish. I look forward to seeing the theatrical version in hopes that some of the funny scenes from the trailer like Tommy smearing Vaseline over Greg's face makes the cut. If you love Tommy Wiseau, you'll love this!
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10/10
Riveting
gantzu-534651 October 2018
Right away this film reminded me of the time I purchased fabric and the guy tries to measure the width of the fabric and not the length. I should have said I wanted the entire roll since the width will always remain the same. Instead I said what I see is a scrap of fabric that is 2/3 of a yard long and he said "Ok we'll go with that" This mimics Tommy and Gregs relationship in Friendship over profit. We are all looking for golden teeth and sometimes we end up with only lemons. An absolutely stunning masterpiece that grabs your attention from beginning to end. Can't wait for part 2.
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7/10
Brilliantly... Confusing?
kile_katarn4 April 2019
I surely was caught off-guard by this feature. It was a very very enjoyable watch for me. Let's get the technical standpoint out of the way: The cinematography was quite stunning, the film is beautifully shot, both with gorgeous wide shots and intimate close-ups. The editing was shoty at times, but overall good. Even the shoty parts one could argue add to the bizzare atmosphere. Acting was.. Well, more hit-or-miss than the editing. The actors give passable-to-good performances.

Except for Tommy. Tommy is the most amazing of them all (no joke, no irony, pure honesty), and exactly because he plays himself - a very bizarre, weird, almost alien person, who can be gullible and intelligent at the same time, and still feel relatable and believable. This is not Johnny from The Room, where the actor is trying to be serious and fails miserably. This is the same actor playing pretty much the same role, but owning the role, owning himself and being overall amazingly fun and investing to watch. The story is surprisingly engaging. If this was any movie I'd say the script needs work, as there are a few "eh" moments, a few out of place lines, etc., but in this one all these quirks contribute to the style, which, even if unintentional, exists and I adored it.

Overall, expect a reimagining of the bizarre style of The Room, but this time done (I think) intentionally, and done right. It probably won't become such a cult phenomenon as The Room, but it gets damn near close to its potential.
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9/10
!?!?!?!?
timofthecrew31 March 2018
On a technical level it feels like a sophomore student film. It's really not well shot in many scenes. But I'm going to say this movie was competently insane. I'd go on but I know that I couldn't put a review for this experience into actual words. 9/10.
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9/10
An Unusual Masterpiece
tom245-32-1533837 September 2017
This film is nuts. It starts off slowly. Jon (played by Greg "O hai Mark" Sestero) is a drifter who stumbles upon Harvey (Tommy "I'm fed up with this wurld" Wiseau). Harvey gives him a job for a day. The next day Jon comes back to Harvey for a full-time job. Little does Harvey know that Jon is going to betray him by selling bags of Harvey's gold teeth. What a story Mark (I mean Jon).

I saw the UK premiere of the extended cut and the audience was going crazy. There were a few references to The Room and whenever they happened the audience applauded with frenzy. It's not The Room, and I'm not going to compare them as others will do this. I will say that if you want an entirely unique viewing experience which will make you laugh at the poor/legendary acting and scratch your head with bewilderment, this is the film.

Best Friends is very good, and it is very bad, so it's impossible to give it a legitimate score with the usual ranking system. As stupid as this sounds, it's true, so I'll be interested how critics approach Best Friends on it's release.

The 9/10 is for the experience I had while watching it. It really is awesome to see Tommy and Greg acting again opposite each other, so this should not be missed.
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10/10
Breaking bad but with dental scraps
dandymaninthespace7 October 2018
You know that feeling when you fall into a deep coma when staring into the abyss of artistic mastery, like when a sculpture, song, or piece of exotic cheese speaks so deeply to your soul that you transcend the mortal coil if only for an instant. This film is more than an hour of pure rapture. This film is full of memorable quotes, such as "you're a homeless person with no soul and no friends" and "the only thing that I can do is i can send a few oranges" which should leave any die hard "The Room" fan waiting for the second volume. Overall this is a great film for the whole family, better by far than anything else you might happen to find.
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1/10
After all these years since The Room.....
sabrina-7501126 April 2020
Warning: Spoilers
After all these years since The Room, he still can't act. I don't know who said everyone in the movie is bad at acting. I only see Tommy who doesn't belong. But the movie still sucks. Not even "The Room" kind of way sucks. It drags! Too many montages.
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5/10
A Middling Attempt at "Neo-Noir" Warning: Spoilers
Sestero gives a nice performance as a homeless drifter - all wounded eyes and thousand-yard stares. He's less convincing as a conniving crook. Tommy is Tommy. If you love him for his eccentricities, there's plenty on display here. Same for the dialogue, which is pretty flat except when Tommy and Greg banter, which shows off their chemistry. The plot has been done a million times - love, betrayal but it does have a modern twist. I think the goal was "neo-noir" but the film doesn't quite get there. Too much style over substance - too many drone shots, unnecessary slo-mo shots, etc. Filming L.A. and Las Vegas at night doesn't automatically equal noir. The director should have concentrated on dialogue and performance more than showy shots. I will say that the climax of the film provided more tension than I ever would have thought possible from a Wiseau/Sestero film. I'm looking forward to Part 2, in spite of myself.
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1/10
Worse than The Room, and not in a good way.
Bane201614 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I've never been so bored in a cinema.

There is nothing memorable or noteworthy contained within this film. Wiseau manages to deliver a performance lacking any passion, energy believability or truthfulness. Say what you want about his performance in 'The Room', but at least he he gave it energy and passion. Greg Sestero is as bad as he was in The Room and offers nothing of interest here.

Unlike Wiseau's magnum opus, which moves at lightning pace, Best F(r)iends is flat, poorly paced, sterile, unimaginitive and held back by desperate attempts to bring the audience onboard with shoved in 'The Room' references. You would think, given the opportunity they both had with this film, Sestero and Wiseau would have wanted to move away from 'The Room' and produce something that could stand on its own. The trailers certainly suggested as much. The references to the 'The Room' bored me, and made me wish I was watching that film instead. At least that film is entertaining. For some reason they went for what can only be described as a Pretentiousness Overload, ripping as much as they could get away with from Mulholland Drive.

The soundtrack is quite simply one of the worst soundtracks ever committed to film and must've been ripped from a Youtube playlist of Royalty/Rights free stock music. At points it is poorly mixed in, either being overly loud or ruining the tone of scenes. They released a clip on Youtube not too long ago featuring a scene where Wiseau's character Harvey purchases a car. The clip was actually a nice scene with a reasonably decent performance from Wiseau. This scene in the film is longer, the point of the scene is muddled and supressed and the music has been changed, completely ruining the tone. It is one example of several scenes which have been poorly edited and scored in the film.

I like 'The Room'. I think it has a charm about it, I think it is (unintentionally) a comedy masterpiece with fast pacing and memorable characters and moments, and the soundtrack at least conveys the emotions of the film despite not being very varied. This film has none of that. If you're looking for Wiseau craziness, you might be occasionally entertained.
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8/10
The best movie of 2018 so far...
BlakAdder31 March 2018
Best F(r)iends is an emotional roller coaster ride. The movie is packed to the brim with absurdity, dark humor, romance, love, betrayal. Everything required for an excellent film. Fans of The Room will not be disappointed. It does hold up as a legitimate film.
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5/10
not the room
abuc4027 March 2018
It was ok. nothing really great about it or as memorable as the room. the best parts of the movie were the room references. they were very crafty and well placed. after that it was pretty blah. the production and acting were a little better but the plot lacked and i almost dozed off a few times. greg is definitely a talented guy but i really feel like he should let tommy write the scripts moving forward.
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6/10
Enormous Potential
joewestcott14 February 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I'd like to preface this review by saying that the version of 'Best F(r)iends' I saw was a work in progress, so much of what I write might no longer be relevant by the time the completed version is released, as, presumably, it's all subject to change. This also, of course, means that the final product is likely to be significantly better than what I saw.

Having read and enjoyed Greg Sestero's excellent book 'The Disaster Artist' I was very excited to learn that he'd written a screenplay, and that he would be starring in it alongside his old companion, the ever-inscrutable Tommy Wiseau.

Greg's book is thoroughly demonstrative of his ability to write extremely well - his eloquence, perceptive wit, and remarkable gift for description are all apparent in every page of his economically structured account of the making of 'The Room'. It was also made clear at the screening (attended by Tommy and Greg themselves) that 'Best F(r)iends' was to be considered something utterly separate from 'The Room'. Greg even stated at the screening that he felt Tommy hadn't been given a real chance to shine as an actor, and wanted to write him a part that he could really sink his teeth into.

So, knowing how good a writer Greg is, how good the trailer looked, and how keen the pair were to distance themselves from the infamous cult classic film that has followed them for so long, I was expecting something unique, profound, and haunting.

And that's what I got! Here and there, at least. It's tough to give this film any rating at all to be honest, as it seems to fluctuate between something highly competent in its style and themes, and something amateurish in terms of writing, technicalities, and sometimes acting.

The overall feel of the film is great, especially in its early stages. The use of dialogue is minimal, to begin with at least, as we see a blood-stained and bruised John (Greg Sestero) wander aimlessly through the city until stumbling upon a quirky mortician with a love for life (and death), Harvey (Tommy Wiseau). The cinematography is beautiful in these first 10 minutes or so, and the soundtrack, eerie and ominous. We also see great performances from both Greg and Tommy in their first scene - Greg's portrayal of the silent and wayward John is pleasingly nuanced, and contrasts perfectly with Tommy's idiosyncratic and unconventionally wise Harvey. Everything works so well at this point, even down to costume design, but before long the film's faith in the implied seems to run dry.

The initial cracks show when the dialogue becomes more extensive and we see John conversing properly with Harvey for the first time. Not only does most of the dialogue throughout the film feel improvised and overly expositional, but it seems that the cinematographer knew how to shoot everything except dialogue.

Firstly, the dialogue shots appear poorly lit and framed (in fact the lighting state seems to change from shot to shot), and secondly I think I'm right in saying that the camera actually 'crosses the line' at one point when John and Harvey are throwing a basket ball back and forth - a truly amateur mistake to make. This, coupled with the shot of John being over-exposed, was so jarring and uncomfortable to look at that it completed distracted from what they were saying - I cannot for the life of me tell you what was said during that exchange.

It also suffers from the occasional continuity error, generally speaking these are negligible, but one that stands out in my mind was when John and Traci (Kristen StephensonPino) were watching 'Sunset Boulevard'. We see the words 'The End' appear on the screen, it then cuts to John saying he enjoyed the film, and Traci recommending 'Double Indemnity', it cuts back to the TV screen and we see Gloria Swanson creeping toward the camera in the iconic final moment of the film. Needless to say, in reality, that iconic moment happens BEFORE we see the words 'The End' on the screen, not after. Maybe this was intentional as it seems too obvious to miss, but it didn't come across that way.

I found myself constantly baffled by this film's ability to come across so cool and calculated in one moment, and completely unsure of itself in the next. In fact, I can't help but feel slightly frustrated by the whole thing because the basic skeleton of the film seems brilliant, it's just distractingly rough around the edges - the plot is somewhat conventional and classic, taking after the kinds of films to which it so fondly refers ('Double Indemnity', 'Sunset Boulevard' etc), the difference being that it's layered with a fresh and unfamiliar paint that brings into play questions of loyalty, identity, greed, the macabre, and the fickle nature of icons and their worth.

The film does so well in expressing these things through images, take when John discovers Harvey's necrophilia allegations (a moment I audibly gasped at), or when Harvey is wearing the mask he made of John, or simply being shown the images of film icons that Harvey has adorned his work space with (Charlie Chaplin, Brigitte Bardot etc) that it's jarring when they're expressed through clunky dialogue, like when John mentions Harvey's allegations in passing during an already stilted scene.

Furthermore, any characters who aren't John, Harvey, or Traci have a tendency to feel unneeded and stereotypical, serving only as vague plot functions. Although the character Traci is very convincingly performed and somewhat interesting, she does a feel a little thrown in for convenience.

The film's confident use of stylised techniques is where it performs best, they might be a little over-used but the slow motion moments of emphasis, or switching quite suddenly to black and white provide the film with an unsettling punctuation that's likely to leave an imprint in the mind long after viewing - Harvey dressed all in jet black, blowing out the candles on his jet black cake was particularly indelible for me personally. The key thing about these moments is that no one is talking during them! While most of these silent moments are a welcome sight, I do recall one montage of John and Harvey walking around the city with a seemingly drunk man dancing around them in slow motion as being a pointless and halfhearted attempt at something 'artsy'.

Maybe I'm a little too harsh on the dialogue, for all I know it COULD have actually been improvised given that I saw a work in progress, but I did feel that it relentlessly interrupted the flow of something elegant and haunting. I suppose writing a screenplay is very much a different beast to writing an account of a series of true-life events, but I somehow struggle to believe that the scenes were all done in the way Greg Sestero had intended. The real issue at this point is not knowing what's going on behind the scenes, not knowing exactly who's responsible for what, not knowing how faithful to the script all the performances are. I only feel the need to point this out as I'm so aware of Greg Sestero's brilliant mind that I can't help but feel the need to defend him, he wrote my favourite book after all.

Overall, I think the film's potential is through the roof, the execution just needs some serious work, but there's plenty of evidence that it CAN work. I can't wait to see the second installment, but am probably more excited for the final version of what I've already seen.
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