BEST F(R)IENDS, VOLUME 2 [Movie Review]: Playin’ It Straight.

“El Sacerdote” J.L. Caraballo Twitter @captzaff007

Best F(r)iends, Volume 2 is really hard to recommend, and this is a shame since the first volume was such a crazy, gonzo experience. Tailoring a film around the wacked-out persona of Tommy Wiseau, and shaping a character and part that plays into his well-documented, and highly parodied eccentricities, was one of the draws of Vol 1, which steered itself down a gonzo well or near-manic energy and borderline surrealism. Any of that manic energy, the very thing that made Vol 1 such a bizarre, highly-watchable experience, is severely lacking in the follow-up.

The film does itself no favors by being split into two parts; if it were one long epic film, as opposed to two separate entries, perhaps Best F(r)iends would have had more of a connection with audiences. As it is, Vol. 2 feels like the third act of a movie stretched out and padded, than it ever does a full fledged feature; it didn’t help that the film opened with a bizarre TMZ interview with stars Greg Sestero and Wiseau at a premiere of some kind; when it began, my girlfriend and I stared at each other to make sure we hadn’t started tripping out, but were, indeed, watching the same thing as the other. Also not helping Volume 2 is the fact that it is handled in a much more straightforward manner than its predecessor. Director Justin MacGregor plays it much more straight, at best miscalculating how much story this volume contains, or, at worst (and most cynically), milking an audience’s expectations for anything containing Wiseau for everything its worth.

Volume 2 finds Sestero’s drifter, Jon, running off with Harvey’s (Wiseau) ATM-disguised safe, the contents of which is assumed to be worth a fortune. Jon absconds with his girl, Traci (Kristen StephensonPino), and across the desert they drive. They’re stopped by a black-and-white, and then rest up at a b&b, where Taci calls her uncle, Rick (Rick Edwards), for help hiding, and cracking open the safe, and who *SPOILERS!* turns out to be Traci’s lover — and hopefully not ALSO her uncle. I say SPOILER!, but really, the revelation does little to affect the plot. And, when you get down to it, it does make much sense in the long run: Was Traci cheating on Jon BEFORE or AFTER she got wind of the ATM safe? Were they really uncle and niece? Rick lives in the middle of nowhere…how recently were they seeing each other? Was Traci with Jon only because of the ATM safe…if so, at what point did she even think to rip him off? When did she find out?)

The finale is, admittedly, pretty entertaining and even clever at parts, but it wasn’t enough to keep the film afloat, nor justify its runtime.

We already know what booth he’ll be at, at E3…

There are little idiosyncrasies throughout that threaten to pepper the film with something memorable: Wiseau appearing in a bizarre costume to save the day…yes, he survived the first film, a point that is made by continually cutting back and forth to him in present time; the entire character of Malmo feels like he belonged SOLELY in Volume 1; the safecracker and his lackey tried their best to inject life in their roles…but they felt like they were acting; the lackey appearing at the end…goes nowhere?; and Uncle Rick, throwing out flat-falling one-liners is actually the most entertaining character this time out, sadly reliving his former football glory over and over.

But, again, this volume doesn’t click until maybe the final 10-minutes. For comparison, I remember specific shots, cues, and sequences from Volume 1, months after the fact. I can barely remember an individual scene from Volume 2, and it’s been less than a week. Hopefully when released on blu-ray, Best F(r)iends will be re-cut as a single film; to go from the insane highs of Volume 1 to the downbeat, straight-faced, single-act-structured Volume 2 was disappointing. But as one entity? Probably works a lot better. 2.5/5 Jon Kortina Masks.

-J.L. Caraballo

Best F(r)iends: Vol. 2 is now playing in select theatres.

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