Cole (Zac Efron) is a young man living in LA’s San Fernando Valley with his friends, who has dreams of making it big as a DJ. In the meantime, he and his mates are scraping by promoting at clubs and Cole DJ-ing for free. Then he meets producer James (Wes Bentley), who takes Cole under his wing and may be able to show him the way to the big time. However, things are complicated by Cole’s feelings for James’ assistant/girlfriend Emily (Emily Ratajkowski), the difficulties Cole and his friends find themselves in – including getting a job that may be more ethically murky that the low grade drug dealing they are also involved in – and the darker side of the electronic music scene.
We Are Your Friends is a film that desperately wants to be the sort of movie that becomes emblematic of a generation. It wants to be for electronic music what Saturday Night Fever is for disco. However, it’s all a bit too bland and hackneyed to be that, so while it’s okay, it’s also uninspired and not that interesting. The problem is highlighted by the special features, as they do a better job of expressing the excitement and joy that electronic music can bring some people than the movie does.
Unfortunately, We Are Your Friends often feels like it’s playing safe, suggesting there are great highs to that world, but never really showing them, while also hinting that there is real darkness, but being a bit shy about that too. Even when it is attempting to show you the repercussions of going too far into a hedonistic world, it’s too little too late and underplays the impact it ought to have had.
It doesn’t help either that the characters often seem oddly inscrutable, so that their feelings and motivations are never clear. What does come across is that there’s a distinct possibility that everyone in the movie is a complete douche. Maybe that’s just me being an old fart, as in the special features Zac Efron and co. are insistent that the film reflects their generation, so unless they’re all douches too it’s either that I’m an old fart or the movie doesn’t really reflect what they think it does. It is perhaps that what motivation there is in the movie suggests everyone is out for themselves and that despite its talk about loyalty and friendship, they’re all inherently selfish.
Although it does slightly try to deal with that at the end, as it involves the main character using great tragedy to further his own career, it doesn’t really work.
There is no doubt though that Efron gives it his all, and that the good-looking cast do a good job with what they’re given, it’s just that what they’ve got isn’t as strong as they seem to think it is. What the film does successfully hint at though is that there is a great film still to be made about the world of electronic music, but this isn’t it.
Overall Verdict: Despite the best efforts of Zac Efron and everyone else involved, We Are Your Friends is undone by a timid, well-worn plot and characters who are a bit too douchey.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac