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We Are Your Friends Review

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Set slap dab in the middle of the EDM (electronic dance music) scene, We Are Your Friends is your typical coming of age tale with Zac Efron as Cole Carter, a struggling young DJ who just wants to strike it big and become a major record producer. With superstar DJ James (Wes Bentley) as his mentor, Cole sees his dreams almost coming through, but when he falls for James’ girlfriend Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski), some difficult decisions must be made about his future. If you look at that synopsis and feel you’ve seen this story before, you are right, and that’s the major problem with We Are Your Friends as director Max Joseph (co-host of Catfish: The TV Show) can’t save this from just being painfully generic.

There is some promise from the opening frame, with Joseph making some nifty stylistic choices in an attempt to make this something different. There is a neat visual flair as on screen text and graphics work in tandem with Efron’s narration to explain the science of working up a crowd or the unsung beauty of the San Fernando Valley, and some musical interludes could work as especially well produced music videos. But these dry up once the movie hits its second act, and the story just plods towards its predictable conclusion. There was a real chance for Joseph (also co-screenwriter with Meaghan Oppenheimer) to explore the EDM scene, but he foregoes this in favour of the usual rags to riches tale, complete with the generic plot beats, that seems to champion how ‘rad’ partying all day is. The whole movie is just an incredibly vapid affair, and an attempt to turn things dark and serious towards the end rings hollow. The musical component is also a let down. We’re told how important music is to people almost every ten minutes, but it doesn’t seem important to this movie. Sure, maybe an openness to electronic music is needed, but none of the music grabs you like it should, even that ‘one track’ Cole keeps harping on about that you know will form the centrepiece of the finale. The music, just like the rest of the movie, is just sort of lifeless.


As vapid as the story is the characters are even worse, with Cole and his posse, a completely intolerable Jonny Weston especially, being a bunch of bros who only care about prolonging the party. Try as he might, Efron can’t make you feel for Cole. He’s not totally unlikable, just settling for the right side of tolerable, but any attempt to further his character is undone by another party scene that shamelessly glamourises drug use (PCP turns everybody into a cartoon, which is just super) or another chemistry devoid encounter with Ratajowski, who at least appears to be trying but can’t do much with a thankless role that doesn’t amount to more than the obligatory eye candy. Even actors who you know are much better than this, namely Bentley and Jon Bernthal, add nothing to proceedings and just coast through their scenes.

With a paper thin plot that barely gets to where it needs to go, We Are Your Friends tells a story that has been told a million time before, with the little substance it has been choked out by far too much style.







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The Movie Bit: We Are Your Friends Review
We Are Your Friends Review
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