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There's something wonderful about midnight screenings to cult movies. This sense that everyone around you in the theater knows exactly why they're here and what they're in for. However, what about a cult movie that has not yet had time to truly become one. Moreover, one that will always be attached to one of the most oddly inspiring or inspiringly odd cinematic legacies out there in form of The Room?
Therefore, as I waited in the dark theater with other eager fans for Best F(r)iends (Tommy Wiseau's and Greg Sesteor's long awaited on screen reunion) to begin, the best way for describing the overall vibe was one of anticipation mixed with perplexed feelings in what to anticipate from it in the first place. Could it be its own thing, but also live up to The Room's legacy? And, while we're at it, what is The Room's legacy anyway? Clearly, at this point, to simply call it a "so bad, it's good movie" feels like a bit of an understatement. Indeed, it's much more fitting to look at it is as something to be inspired by rather than to laugh at. And, well, in that sense, Best F(r)iends did deliver.
Now, as is the case with most things which are—directly or indirectly—tied to The Room, it's kind of difficult to comprehensively sum up one's thoughts and feelings on it. Yet, that doesn't take anything away from the desire to do so (at least, in regards to those, one does feel more certain about). So, let's get right into it. To me, Best F(r)iends is...
A Simple but Interesting Look at Life and Friendship
Now, as much as it may be difficult to separate this movie from The Room, it definitely deserves a chance to be viewed on its own terms. And, well, after three plus hours (can't help but to count the vol 1 and vol 2 as one big whole) of plot twists, editing and cinematography that ranged from truly beautiful to beautifully insane. What it all came down to was a simple and sincere look at friendship and life choices. However, not without it's little intricacies.
Here's the thing, in essence, the film can indeed be summed up with a rather straightforward friendship before money theme. However, as one follows the F(r)iendship between an aimless drifter named Jon (Sestero) and an eccentric mortician named Harvey (Wiseau), there's also another, perhaps more interesting theme to be found here about losing yourself in the world.
Simply put, as Jon raises up to the challenge of breaking away from his self-imposed excile and starts having many seemingly good things happen to him all at once, he's faced with an even bigger challenge in trying to figure out which of these good things are actually good for him and which could send him straight back into that dark place where he came from.
All in all, whatever one makes of the story, bottom line here is that it's actually pretty damn effective. A feeling which to me was solidified, when I heard a couple of fans in the theater go, "aww" as this trippy ride reached it's simple and, in it's own unique way, cute conclusion. Now, say what you will, but there aren't many movies that can call up such a reaction in a packed theater.
A Wake-Up Call for Anyone with a Dream of Making a Movie
One of the more common criticisms that has popped up from time to time, in regards to Best F(r)iends is that it often feels like a result of what happens when a first year film student gets his or her hands on some expensive equipment. And, well, to a certain extent, I actually agree with that. Only thing, I sincerely mean it as a compliment.
You see, the whole movie has this refreshing "let's just go for it" energy to it. It really feels as if Greg Sestero thought about the films that have inspired him (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Drive and Nightcrawler to name a few), people who have had an effect on him (Wiseau and film's other scene-stealer Rick Edwards for example), life experiences that have shaped him (including a certain road trip, where Tommy thought that Greg's going to kill him for some reason) and then just let it fuel him to write a script and throw himself into bringing that project to life.
And well, that's kind of the trick isn't it? No matter how boring we think we are, we all have things that have inspired us, people who have affected us and experiences that have shaped us. In other words, there's a movie inside all of us. All we really need to do, is to somehow conjure up stupefying amounts of confidence and an unrelentingly fanatic drive to bring it all to life.
An Ode to Oddness
Last but not least, as is the case with pretty much the entirety of The Room's legacy, Best F(r)iends also reminded me what a huge playground of opportunities there lies on the other side of conventional. Granted, this ground might be a bit wobbly at times, but it is equally amazing how right something off-beat can feel when approached with sincerity and passion. It's really not even so much about trying to be original but rather, about having the confidence and enthusiasm to embrace the crazy, quirky and odd should the opportunity present itself.
It's certainly apparent in many of the film's unique editing choices, plot twists, cameos or even within bigger roles like with Rick (played by Rick Edwards), who beautifully manages to ham in every cowboy stereotype imaginable with such an infectious sense fun that it somehow ends up feeling extremely original.
And then there's of course Mr. Tommy Wiseau himself. With Sestero quite possibly being the only person in the world, who's truly able to write a part worthy of Wiseau. The result is exactly as oddly pitch perfect as one would hope. Simply put, while all the trademark Tommy Wiseauness is on full display here, his character also genuinely fits within the story we're told. Indeed, after the novelty of seeing the long awaited reunion of this unique duo fades, it's kind of amazing how easy it is to get invested in the story of these two characters, as both actors manage to bring a lot of sincerity to their respective roles.
More on that unique duo ... Perhaps the best way to put the film's ability to celebrate the brilliance within odd and off-beat into perspective, is with a little scene towards the end of the movie (minor spoilers ahead). I'm referring to the moment, where Jon chooses to trust Harvey over his girlfriend turned partner in crime, turned con artist Traci (Kristen StephensonPino). More specifically, it's that image of this unlikely pairing walking away together, which perfectly seems to sum up both the duo's on screen as well as their off screen friendship. It's off-beat, at times crazy but also so oddly perfect. As is the case with the entirety of Best F(r)iends.