We Are Your Friends
Starring Zac Efron, Alex Shaffer, Shiloh Fernandez, Jonny Weston, Wes Bentley, Emily Ratajkowski
For a film that centers on a San Fernando Valley twenty-something, trying to make it big in the world of spinning music, “We Are Your Friends” never finds the kind of beat to make you move in your seat. It doesn’t help that the film’s non-descript title could basically describe any other movie at the box office right now. Aimed at the back to school crowd, “We Are Your Friends” has three major problems: First it only caters to those interested in club music and the party scene. Second, if you are going just because of Zac Efron’s famous muscular arms and ripped abs you don’t get your money’s worth. Finally this story about four hopeless male friends chasing the celebrity dream was far more clever and interesting earlier this summer when it was called “Entourage”.
Cole (Efron) is a 23-year-old living with his best friend Mason (Weston) in the Valley with no air condition and a pool with no water. They, nor their friends Ollie (Fernandez) or Squirrel (Shaffer) attended college. Instead, the foursome promote a local club on Thursday nights where Cole spins, Mason bounces, and the other two sell drugs. For years they have imagined what their life will be when they hit it big, but they grow increasingly impatient as their funds dry up. Cole strikes a friendship with a renowned international (Bentley) and quickly becomes infatuated with the lavish lifestyle and his assistant/girlfriend. The guys eventually take high paying jobs for a local real estate agent that puts dirty money in their pocket.
Never finds the kind of beat to make you move in your seat.
We Are Your Friends spends two thirds of the screen time showing the lead characters party, indulge, fornicate, get high and then wake up each morning to hustle again. The last third of the film slams on the breaks, saying everything they have enjoyed showing you at this point it actually wrong, bad, and you shouldn’t do it. This message might be fundamental for those very people wasting their lives to loud music on the dance floor, but for those living outside that carefree lifestyle this is more of an annoyance to watch. In many ways Bentley is the villain of the film but he is also the character with the most depth. The push/pull control and influence he has over Cole is the lackluster film at its best. He represents in many ways where Cole might end up, even if he hits it big.
“They wouldn’t last two seconds in the real world,” Efron’s character says after punching a guy talking vulgar about Sophie’s behavior. This actually provided me with the biggest (ironic) laugh, since clearly Cole, living with his buddy, no car, no job and no education, doesn’t understand the real world either. The scene is just one of many that showcases the filmmaker’s disassociation with reality. We Are Your Friends quickly turns into a love story for Efron’s character like his recent movie “That Awkward Moment”, where the supporting actors are relegated to the background. Which is a shame for Alex Shaffer (“Win Win”) back on the big screen since his debut in 2011. Finally in that last five minutes Cole takes all of his experiences and life lessons thrusting them into his music. It’s a pulse pounding scene that has Efron in the zone and nearly makes you want to be in that crowd, but it’s too little too late.
If you want good music, insightful characters or gratuitous shots of Efron’s body you will be disappointed.