Title: We Are Your Friends
Director: Max Joseph
Major Players: Zac Efron, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski
Out Of Five: 2
I’d be the first to admit I’m not the target audience for this one: a film about an aspiring DJ, full of electronic music and strobe lights isn’t exactly my thing. So when a film so clearly has a particular age group in mind, you’d think its aim would be true, to say the least. At least, you’d hope.
Cole (Zac Efron) is an aspiring DJ in California, living with a group of friends and spending his time working on his music. His career takes an upward turn when he meets James (Wes Bentley), a big name on the party scene, who takes him under his wing. But when Cole starts taking an interest in James’ girlfriend, things start to look uncertain and then a party has tragic consequences …..
Which means it’s a very familiar storyline: older, slightly jaded master takes on talented protégé who thanks him by betraying his trust. Yes, we’ve been there before, even in teen movies, so this is all going to seem like old territory even to the younger audiences this is aimed at. And that makes you wonder if first-time director Max Joseph and his crew actually know their young audience and the world they’re portraying. It’s not a positive answer as the film moves along at such a speed that there’s hardly any time to get to know anything – people or context.
It’s all very superficial, as is the world in which it’s set, which makes it frustrating and the characters more irritating than anything else. To be fair, Efron puts some effort into it – he took DJ’ing lessons from D J Alesso, who has a momentary cameo in the movie – and Wes Bentley looks increasingly rough around the edges as the talented but washed-up DJ. But Efron’s three friends are nothing more than annoying insects who keep hanging around, making a lot of noise. Even involving one of them in a tragedy doesn’t change your mind.
Director Joseph seems to know that he’s got a lightweight on his hands, so he tries to introduce some gravitas in the shape of a sub-plot where Efron and his friends take jobs with a real estate company. It’s the housing market collapse and the company is exploiting people who are about to lose their homes. But as an attempt to give the film some weight and a touch of realism, it’s pitiful to the point of insulting. If you want to see a film about the housing collapse, watch 99 Homes. End of.
Thankfully, there was one thing about the film that I rather enjoyed and that, surprisingly, was the music. The final piece is supposed to be the ultimate track that Efron’s character had been seeking throughout the film. It’s good, although not great, but it’s rhythmic beat certainly gets to you, even if the use of real sounds (as opposed to synthetic ones) does at times seem contrived.
As he plays that track to a packed audience, Efron shouts “Are we ever going to be better than this?” You wish …….
We Are Your Friends is released on DVD on Monday, 11 January and reviewed on Talking Pictures on Thursday, 14 January.