“We Are Your Friends” is the latest and possibly final summer-themed movie of the year before we transition into autumn.
Set in present day San Fernando Valley, Cole Carter (Zac Efron) is an aspiring DJ dividing his time with his childhood friends between promoting clubs and profiting from real estate schemes. With no escape from his dead end path in life in sight, Cole soon falls under the tutelage of James (Wes Bentley), an older, more successful DJ and is forced into the adult world.
Efron showed surprising charm and emotional range. He didn’t blow me away, exactly, but considering what campy roles he has accepted in the past, this is Efron leveling up from mediocre to adequately charming.
His character Cole is the very definition of our generation’s man-child. He deliberately chose not to “waste [his] time” with a full athletic ride to college to live rent free in his friend’s parents’ pool house and party like he’s an extra in “Entourage.”
His character never noticeably grows up. He just acts like a complete douche right up until the final 10 minutes or so and has a pseudo-moral epiphany.
There were a couple of lines that resonated with me from his character, however: “Are we ever gonna be better than this?” and “Nobody thinks they’re a bad person.” But then every time I’d get my hopes up that the story was about to mature and get real like Cole needed to, it would fall apart again with a string of tired cliches.
The rest of the cast and their story arcs were such a weird mixed bag. Bentley, as James, Cole’s self-destructive mentor, was pretty great, actually. I wish this movie had been about him. He was such a more interesting character, and he was the only one whose story arc wasn’t glaringly obvious.
Emily Ratajkowski as Sophie, James’ assistant, proved her acting chops. She stole more than a few scenes with Efron and added the touch of humanity this overly saturated mess sorely needed. Literally every single other actor in this movie was awful, though – definitely not this casting director’s finest work.
The editing and cinematography were obnoxious. There was never a consistent tone or sense of style, not to mention that the strange animated scene near the beginning made my eyes burn (fair warning to epileptics). What’s cool about this movie, though, is that while the soundtrack isn’t the most inspired, and I do love quality techno, is the message that you should always be original and try to create new sounds rather than being a crowd pleaser. The mini-explanation as to the mechanics of DJing (the actual science behind the skill) was fairly accurate and a lot of fun to watch play out.
“We Are Your Friends” was not Efron, Bentley or Ratajkowski’s best work, but they did what they could with it amid an embarrassing cast and obvious storyline.
This movie had its fun moments but failed to deliver like it should have on those more emotional scenes. Despite its many flaws, seeing this with your friends would at least give you something to joke about all weekend. This wasn’t a terrible movie, it just wasn’t a good one either.