Of the thousands of terrible movies produced since the advent of film, The Room has baffled moviegoers and critics alike while miraculously entertaining them the whole way through.
James Franco’s The Disaster Artist lifted “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” from its cult following to become a tale that garnered 11 major film award nominations, turning the original film’s screenwriter, director and producer Tommy Wiseau and fellow star Greg Sestero into marketable draws. But their new film, Best F(r)iends, soundly shows that their moviemaking skills have hardly improved since 2003.
The idiosyncrasies that turned The Room into a beloved film are present in this new film, but a key difference is that it drags on rather than keeping audiences amused. Warning: Spoilers are laid out below.
The story follows a homeless drifter named Jon (Sestero) who Harvey (Wiseau) takes pity on by letting him work unlicensed as a mortician’s assistant. Without Jon saying so much as a word, Harvey blurts out that he has boxes full of gold fillings just sitting around after stumbling over the first line of the movie.
From the first few minutes, it’s immediately clear Sestero’s acting skills also fall far short of the emotion that’s intended to reach audiences. It follows him with panhandling around Los Angeles, testing misspelled signs like “Family kidnaped by ninjas, need money for karate lessons” before a flashback to him as a young boy prompts vacant stares from his glassy eyes.
As soon as Harvey mentions the gold, the plot can be seen from a mile away. Jon steals a small amount, sells it, then convinces Harvey to sell the remaining gold to a shady figure played by Paul Scheer. Harvey has his own skeletons in the closet and won’t give Harvey his cut of the cash stored in an ATM inside a shed. Cue betrayal, a plethora of slowed-down footage, incessant yelling about said betrayal and a literal cliffhanger.
Though the plot is a slight upgrade from a cheating-fiancé melodrama ending in suicide, it’s still centered on friendship and betrayal — clearly topics near-and-dear to Wiseau’s possibly-alien heart.
Here are some other standout moments that are hardly missed:
- Harvey lets Jon touch the body of a fully dressed clown who committed suicide by shoving a candle down his throat and ass, then calls to celebrate his life with cake and sweets.
- Harvey also suggests celebrating the life of a dead Chinese man by ordering Chinese takeout and calling repeatedly calling him a “nice Chinese man.”
- Harvey has thousands of gold fillings, prompting the questions of how many bodies he processed and how common are gold fillings, anyway?
- Harvey makes a mask replicating Jon’s face that probably doesn’t show his artistic abilities like the script wanted.
- A copy of The Room DVD is seen at Jon’s new girlfriend’s house, as well as a theroommovie.com sticker on the basketball Harvey and Jon randomly throw around à la the football scene.
- Harvey and Jon stumble around Las Vegas with no signs of actual drinking or nightlife.
- Jon tricks Harvey into leaving Los Angeles with a Rolling Stones concert ticket the now-demolished Candlestick Park, which Harvey eventually catches on to.
- A dramatic change in lighting occurs during the penultimate scene and if the past is any indication, it’s probably because the sun set while Wiseau repeatedly messed up his lines.
To the surprise of the incredulous audience who came to the lone 8 p.m. showtime on March 30, the story is not over. Though the first film hardly left moviegoers on the edge of their seats, Vol. 2 will be released on June 1 — though the post-credits came with a preview lacking all the subtleties of a Marvel Cinematic Universe teaser.