A few months ago, the FilmBunker staff discovered that there was going to be a Brisbane preview screening of Greg Sestero and Tommy Wiseau’s new flick Best F(r)iends with Greg Sestero himself in attendance. The Room fans in us lit up at the opportunity, and tickets were immediately purchased. At this point, I have been to a quite a few media preview screenings for new films, but before this event, I had not been to a premiere (albeit local premiere) that was ticketed for the public. The difference was immediately apparent walking into the cinema—the atmosphere was buzzing. While media screenings can be exciting, the crowd, for the most part, is usually a bit more subdued. Stern-faced critics intermingled with small online bloggers and a smattering of ticket competition winners don’t always exude excitement for the latest blockbuster they are waiting around to see. But cult movie lovers, lining up to meet Greg Sestero before walking into the theatre to see him and Tommy Wiseau finally back together on screen—they made the air feel electric. In line, fans of The Disaster Artist clutched their books excitedly waiting to have them signed. We didn’t get a chance to meet Greg on the way in and it was drawing to close to kick-off time, so half the line was hurried in with promises of a meet and greet after the flick. We took our seats and geared up for what was to come.
Greg, as the writer and star of the film, was to provide an opening speech before the film began. Upon being introduced, he was greeted with raucous applause and cheering, and began to regale us with his story. The film was partially based off a road trip he and Tommy took, where Tommy suspected Greg of attempting to kill him (of course this was not the case). But years later, as he was high on edibles, the thought came to Greg’s mind—what if he was trying to kill Tommy? And so, Best F(r)iends was born. Greg had always wondered what would happen if Tommy was given a character written just for him, in a film that wasn’t created by Tommy, hoping to see what Tommy could do in an actual decent film. The result? Well, to use Greg’s own words, it is batshit crazy.
The film opens with a battered and bruised Greg Sestero playing Jon, a homeless man wandering the streets. Jon soon stumbles upon a mortician, Harvey, played by Wiseau. Seeing the production company ‘Sestero Productions’ flash on the screen during this opening sequence incites a giggle as the ridiculousness of this film even existing begins to sink in. Harvey takes Jon in, clothes him, and asks for his help for the night. While working with Harvey, Jon discovers that he hordes old, gold dental scraps. After leaving the next day, he devises a plan to steal and sell the auspicious loot. He returns to see Harvey and begs for a job, and Harvey eventually gives in, kicking the plot into the realm of the bizarre. The two form an unlikely partnership, Jon finds a girl, and paranoia seeps into all of them.
I don’t want to go much further into the plot of the film as it is reasonably straightforward (although insane) at times. I’d rather talk about the more interesting part: the performances. Tommy Wiseau playing a paranoid, eccentric mortician is an absolute stroke of genius. As you would expect, his general personality oozes into the character, but, unlike last time, it actually works! Coming out of this, you can almost say Tommy gives a good performance—perhaps not award-winning, but good. The most interesting part is that this character is so well formulated for Tommy that the audience doesn’t lose the Wiseau-isms that make The Room so iconic and enjoyable. The voice, the personality, the extra-terrestrial demeanour—it’s all still there, just this time paired with the correct character. Greg’s performance as Jon was very similar to Mark from The Room, just no longer clueless, and with a drive to get by no matter the cost. Greg receives most of the quieter scenes in the film, and in most of them, he brings a strong performance backed up by some great music. Kristen StephensonPino as Traci can feel a bit shallow at times, but overall she fits in quite well and the rest of the cast bring solid performances to the table.
‘But Nic, this sounds like you’re saying this is actually a really good movie?’ I hear you cry. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is fun and a million times better than The Room in terms of quality, but it’s not perfect. However, in the end, I didn’t care if it was actually good or not. To be honest, with the duo at its centre, I wasn’t expecting it to be ‘good’. The draw of this film, and the reason our staff frantically booked their tickets, is the opportunity to see Greg and Tommy on the screen together again, and that’s all that matters. As it turns out, this isn’t the last time we will see them on screen together, for this is only ‘Volume 1’, and there’s another volume for us to race and see.
After the credits rolled, we were treated to a Q&A with Greg which was a fantastic thing to be a part of. Fielding questions from the crowd, he spoke about his writing process and what Tommy was like on set, among other things. The Q&A was to be followed by another meet and greet/signing session, so I excitedly joined the line with my colleagues, The Room DVD grasped in my hand ready to be signed. After what felt like an eternity in line (although it only turned out to be 11 minutes), I was walking up to Greg to get a photo and have his signature. I made my way to him and for the first time ever, I was star struck. I meekly mumbled, ‘Hi, it’s really nice to meet you,’ received my signature and photo, and scurried away in panic. We laughed about it, as I have met people from actually good films before and didn’t freeze. It was a brilliant night, but I do regret not getting to shake the man’s hand. All in all, Greg seems like a great guy and I’d recommend Best F(r)iends to all fans of The Room, but probably nobody else.