BEST F(R)IENDS – VOLUME 2 (2018)

Movie Review by LL Soares

I had a lot of questions going into this one. First off, why hasn’t Tommy Wiseau, the director and writer of the 2003 cult hit THE ROOM directed any films since? He’s done some internet TV stuff, but we haven’t gotten a bonafide movie in 15 years.

When we do finally get a new project starring Wiseau and his “sidekick” Greg Sestero, why is it  the work of director Justin MacGregor (with a script by Sestero)?

And, why has that film, BEST F(R)IENDS (2017), been split into two movies, with very limited screenings from Fantom Events?

I went to see VOLUME 2 on June 1st with a little bit of hope that it might actually be entertaining, and a whole lot of trepidation. VOLUME 1 had some good moments, but overall was a disappointment compared to the phenomenon of THE ROOM (and that movie’s “behind the scenes” story in James Franco’s THE DISASTER ARTIST, 2017, based on Sestero’s book). But, if nothing else, BEST F(R)IENDS VOLUME 1 had lots of Tommy Wiseau, and interplay between Tommy and Sestero. Which was something, at least.

Unfortunately, we’re not so lucky with VOLUME 2. Tommy isn’t seen for long stretches of the movie, and the focus is on Sestero, whose character is a bit of a bore.

QUICK SYNPOSIS OF VOLUME 1:

Greg Sestero plays Jon Kortino, a homeless guy who takes a shower with a hose in the park. When we first see him, he’s wearing a bloody T-shirt. He wanders around the city and is noticed by mortician Harvey Lewis (Tommy Wiseau), who offers him a job cleaning up.

Jon finds a crate with bags full of gold teeth that Harvey has been pulling from corpses. Looking for a way to make quick cash, Jon goes to one of those “Cash for Gold” places and gets a wad of money for teeth. He feels guilty and goes to Harvey to admit he stole the teeth and sold them. At first, Harvey is mad. But then he says, “I have a lot more than that.”

Jon hooks Harvey up with some gangster guy who arranges for Harvey to sell gold teeth to his clients. They meet clients in alleyways like drug dealers.

Harvey makes a ton of money, and says they shouldn’t spend any of it, or it would draw suspicion to them. Then he turns around and buys an expensive vintage Chevy. Jon gets mad, but Harvey reveals he is in charge of the money, and will decide when Jon gets some, if any. Even though there’s all this money, Jon is still pretty much homeless, since Harvey won’t give him any more cash. Jon and his girlfriend Traci (Kristen StephensonPino) come up with a plan to get some money out of Harvey.

During an argument Harvey and Jon have on a seaside cliff, Harvey falls into the sea. Jon runs back to Traci, and they go back to the mortuary, where Harvey keeps his money is a safe that looks like an old ATM machine. Jon and Traci put the ATM in her car and try to figure out the best way to break it open.

And now, on to VOLUME 2.

On their way to Colorado, Jon and Traci are stopped by a suspicious cop who says there have been smugglers in the area. He asks to look inside the car, but Traci refuses without a warrant. Meanwhile, that ATM safe is still in the back seat, covered in a tarp. After they squeak out of this situation, they end up stopping at a weird bed & breakfast for the night, where the owner is hesitant to give them a place to stay in a strange, awkward exchange, then he finally relents.

Traci calls her “Uncle Rick” Stanton (Rick Edwards), for help. Rick shows up and takes them away, along with the ATM. Rick is a former football star who had an embarrassing failure that ruined his career. Now he lives on a ranch in the middle of nowhere, watching old footage of his glory days, and throwing footballs at a bull’s eye on a barn wall. Rick is a fun, eccentric character, but the script really has no idea what to do with him.

When Rick can’t get the safe open, they end up seeking help from some sketchy guy named Doc Seagar (George Killingsworth) and his violent henchman, Vincente (R.J. Canti), an insane biker, and then everything turns to shit.

This whole segment where Jon and Traci are staying with Rick, trying to get the safe open, takes up the majority of VOLUME 2, and I have to admit, it was pretty boring for most of its running time. A big part of that is due to the fact that Tommy Wiseau’s Harvey is hardly in it. The appeal of VOLUME 1—despite the fact that it’s a pretty lame movie—was the interaction between Tommy and Greg, but VOLUME 2 doesn’t even have that to save it. Sestero’s Jon is pretty much a blank slate most of the time, and not very compelling.  Kristen StephensonPino’s Traci is okay, but not given much to do. The only real standout in VOLUME 2 is Rick Edwards as Uncle Rick, who is actually a pretty decent actor, but even he can’t save the storyline.

By the time Wiseau returns to the story (with a crazy reason why he’s back), it’s too little too late, and we’ve just sat through almost two hours of procrastination.

I have to admit to having no better idea why BEST F(R)IENDS had to be cut into two films when I left the theater than when I entered it. Instead, Mr. MacGregor should have invested in a decent film editor to cut this all down into a manageable and better-paced movie (according to the credits, he edited it himself, and frankly, editing is not in his skill set). I can’t imagine anyone who isn’t a hardcore fan of THE ROOM sitting through both parts, especially the laborious VOLUME 2. So what about people who aren’t hardcore fans? Those must have been the people who walked out half-way through the showing I attended.

Aside from Rick Edwards, and any scene with Tommy Wiseau in it, there isn’t much to recommend here. I did like the score by musician Daniel Platzman of the band IMAGINE DRAGONS, although it’s mostly wasted.

I really doubt if BEST F(R)IENDS will get a real theatrical release (there’s no reason it should), or if it will now go directly to a streaming service (probably), but this one is for the morbidly curious and Tommy Wiseau completists only. I can’t imagine many people actually enjoying BEST F(R)IENDS VOLUME 2. Although we do finally find out who the mysterious Malmo (Paul Scheer) from the first volume is. And the ending is upbeat and kinda works – even though it takes so long to get there!

I give VOLUME 2 ~ one and a half knives, and that’s being generous.

© Copyright 2018 by LL Soares

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