We Are Your Friends (2015)

We Are Your Friends (2015)
  • Time: 96 min
  • Genre: Drama | Music | Romance
  • Director: Max Joseph
  • Cast: Zac Efron, Emily Ratajkowski, Wes Bentley


Caught between a forbidden romance and the expectations of his friends, aspiring DJ Cole Carter attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.


  • We Are Your Friends (my latest review) is about prospective DJ Cole Carter. His friends as they say, are just secondary pawns. Liberating itself as part Tony Manero escapade, part 8 Mile, and sprinkled with a little fairy dust from The Wolf of Wall Street, this is a film that’s somewhat inferior to everything just mentioned. That in my mind, secretes its place among the many releases in the last dash, August scrap heap.

    Notwithstanding, the music is completely bumpin, the sun shines intensely, and beautiful women seem to grow on trees. “Friends” with its plot threads subjugating as dangling loose ends, sticks to its persona as an L.A. snob story (not sob story). Every character is of a certain class, every scene is a party (full of sex, laced joints, and plenty of eurodance music), and everything the next day is a reckless hangover. The one saving grace: Two appealing actors by the names of Wes Bentley and Zac Efron. They give burying performances and in the world of music mixing, one of their characters is the mentor and the other is the student. Their kinship as veritable tug of war, kept me somewhat interested. Otherwise, things sort of end when they end. Oh and did I mention this vehicle has the audacity to hint at the hope of a sequel (by the time the final credits roll)? I’m kept thinking to myself, would that actually work?

    Referencing the alleyways of San Fernando and masquerading Los Angeles as a modern day Munich (Ecstasy and flashing, neon lights can’t lie), We Are Your Friends chronicles one Cole Carter (Efron). He’s an aspiring deejay, a man who’s got the music in him (as Kiki Dee would say). He can take one track, promote variations on said track, and have any inebriated partygoer dancing till the break of day. Here’s the problem though: He doesn’t make very much money via this craft. And to supplicate his own income, Carter dabbles in phony real estate (he’s also accompanied by three of his buddies who pose as a low rent entourage). A chance meeting with a spin doctor higher up on the food chain (DJ James Reed played by Wes Bentley), sets him straight. He can polish up his technique, wreck the turntables at Summerfest (an all-out musical fiesta), and get his sorry butt out of quote unquote, “the Valley”. While all this is going on, he has a thing for Reed’s saucy, pseudo-like girlfriend (Sophie played by Emily Ratajkowski).

    Random things to look for when taking in a viewing of We Are Your Friends: 1. A visual palate akin to something out of a Vitamin C music video. 2. Lots of giddy, techno music riffs. I wanted to get up and dance but was afraid to do so (I probably could have being that I was the only one in the theater). 3. A swift education from the filmmakers on the aspects of BPM (an urban definition for “beats per minute”). 4. Finally, a scene in which a death occurs (at a party) in the form of a drug overdose. What I’m curious about is why the person handing out the pills didn’t get busted. I mean it was his fricken house!

    Anyway, in my lifetime I’ve never seen a cinematic endeavor pertaining to the art of DJing. And in truth, I never would have thought that it could be made into an interesting enough component to carry a film. But darn it if “Friends” doesn’t take itself way too seriously. That was probably what was needed. Max Joseph (he shoots mostly documentaries and shorts) directs in a hyper-kinetic style. He’s flash with a little bit of stash. He uses every nickelodeon technique in the book including a PCP-trip sequence as animation fantastique. When his lead player (Efron’s Carter) is out on his own or his role in a two-part character study arises, the proceedings have a responsibility to them, a blossoming. When Carter trades dialogue with his nitwit buddies (in the form of actors Shiloh Fernandez, Alex Shaffer, and Jonny Weston), We Are Your Friends becomes immature and immaterial. Basically, Saturday Night Fever turns into Saturday Night Cleaver. Ugh!

    In conclusion, we all know what the month of August means. It’s that time when movies scrape the bottom of the barrel. In fairness, there have been some exceptions to the rule (The Sixth Sense comes to mind) and some hardcore stinkers to boot (1998’s 54, ouch). We Are Your Friends fits somewhere in the middle. Bottom line: “Friends” shouldn’t let “friends” pay ten bucks to see the movie I’ve just reviewed. “Friends” should just tell “friends” to wait for it on DVD.

    Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog: http://www.viewsonfilm.com

  • There’s something about attending a concert that listening to music on your iPod could never replace. It doesn’t matter what genre you listen to either, live music always (and I mean always) beats recorded music. EDM, Electronic Dance Music, is at the peak of its popularity and it is only right for Hollywood to cash in. If you are a newbie to the genre then We Are Your Friends has a lot that it could teach you but as for the elements that make the movie, director Max Joseph could learn a thing or two.

    Set in the world of electronic music and Hollywood nightlife, an aspiring 23-year-old DJ named Cole spends his days scheming with his childhood friends and his nights working on the one track that will set the world on fire. All of this changes when he meets a charismatic but damaged older DJ named James, who takes him under his wing. Things get complicated, however, when Cole starts falling for James’ much younger girlfriend, Sophie. With Cole’s forbidden relationship intensifying and his friendships unraveling, he must choose between love, loyalty, and the future he is destined for.

    This is Max Joseph’s first time sitting in the director’s chair and a lot of the mistakes that are in We Are Your Friends could be pinpointed to that. The film is filled with a lot of basic movie elements and then things that simply don’t make sense. For example, the title of the movie. When the film first starts, we are introduced to Zac Efron’s Cole and his three amigos but that’s about it. We never grow a connection to his friends or even care about their dynamics which is only highly puzzling due to the name of the film. I understand that the film is titled after one of the songs in the soundtrack but perhaps another song title would have benefitted.

    Then there’s the cliche love triangle that starts building on fairly early in the film. Cole meets the beautiful Sophie, played by Emily Ratajkowski, at a club one day and the way they met just screams rookie director. They lock eyes on each other, the music slows down, everyone in the club speeds up while Cole and Sophie slow down and get lost in each other’s eyes. Sophie ends up leaving Cole behind that night but later they run into each other when Cole becomes a mentee to Wes Bentley’s DJ James. Sophie happens to not only be DJ James’ assistant but his girlfriend as well. The love triangle does not fail to disappoint as it serves for a great set piece when Sophie and Cole finally connect at a music festival in Vegas but you will be able to predict everything a mile away with this one.

    Despite the lack of “friends” and basic movie elements, the movie’s one and only highlight is the music. Not only is Joseph able to introduce new fans to the music but he is able to debunk the simplicity of the music. It takes one with a great ear to make a great EDM track and that is something I might have not fully believed prior to seeing the film. Personally, I never attended an EDM concert or anything similar but after that final act in We Are Your Friends, I am looking forward to the next Electric Zoo in my area!

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