Genre: Drama, Romance, Music
Directed by: Max Joseph
Starring: Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski, Shiloh Fernandez
Yes, it may have been a major flop when first released, and sure, the title does come off as a trite attempt on the part of the filmmakers to ingratiate themselves with you, but please don’t dismiss We Are Your Friends out of hand. As in actuality, this lively EDM drama is so damn entertaining it’s practically guaranteed to leave you with a spring in your step.
Cole (Zac Efron) and his friends Mason (Jonny Weston), Squirrel (Alex Shaffer), and Ollie (Shiloh Fernandez) have spent all their lives living in the San Fernando Valley, “that flat stretch of land on the other side of the Hollywood Hills”, but dream of making it over the top. They don’t go to college, and they’re not interested in education. All they want to do is find success, ideally as actors, party promoters, or, in the case of Cole, as a DJ; an aspiration that looks like it may well blossom into an actuality after he forms a friendship with legendary local DJ James Reed (Wes Bentley) and his girlfriend, Sophie (Emily Ratajkowski).Playing out like a lite remix of Magic Mike, but with disco tunes replacing the dirty dances, We Are Your Friends admittedly struggles to hit the critically conventional high notes. The script, collaborated on by director Max Joseph and screenwriter Meaghan Oppenheimer, artlessly attempts to play on the tired Generation Y tropes of ambition and blurred morality, and is packed with pretentious platitudes about how successful artists have a moment “where they stop being an admirer, and they find their signature”. While the ponderous plot bursts with more bum notes than you’re likely to hear in a karaoke bar at 2am on a Friday night.
Yet almost from the start you find yourself willing to bop along to the beat. The base blares with an intoxicating energy courtesy of the ever-reliable Zac Efron, who once more manages to fuse the clichéd millennial character saved by his own innocence and integrity with notes of charm and tenderness, which emotionally elevates the fairly flat material.
Joseph, making his directorial debut, does sometimes seem unable to define his own style, and regularly over-relies on flashy graphics. His filmmaking, however, still fizzes with artistic flair; the most inspired sequence being a PCP trip that’s euphorically encapsulated through remarkable rotoscoping animation. It may have a muddled tempo, but We Are Your Friends still manages to find the right rhythm.
We Are Your Friends is out now on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD